Tiger Woods returned to the top of the sport that he helped popularize with a convincing two-shot win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill on Monday.
It was an anticlimactic finish on his 72nd hole as he dropped a nondescript tap-in bogey putt to seal the victory at a course where he’s been dominant over the course of his career. He got the job done, however, and can now head to The 2013 Masters with all the confidence he needs to win his elusive 15th major.
He is now ranked No. 1 according to the Official World Golf Rankings, overtaking the struggling Rory McIlroy by shooting a final-round 70 to finish ahead of Justin Rose. It’s his eighth win at the event in his career, and that ties Sam Snead for the most in PGA TOUR history at a single tournament. He is also inching even closer to Snead’s all time TOUR victory mark of 82 with 77.
But Woods is all about winning majors, and he, like the rest of the sports world, understands that he is only back to his legendary status when he wins his 15th major and rejoins the conversation of potentially overtaking the great Jack Nicklaus for his career total.
It’s been over two years — October 30, 2010 to be exact — since anyone could proclaim Woods the world No. 1 player. Though he didn’t win at Bay Hill with his foot on the proverbial accelerator as in years past, he was obviously the best player in the field all week long and in control of his game from tee to green. There was no intimidation of other players like in his dominant days, but if he’s not officially back, then he’s as close as anyone’s seen him since the 2009 season.
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