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Tiger Woods a Winner on Tour Again After 30 Months
Tiger Woods finally brought the buzz back to the very thing that made him famous
Two weeks after another injury scare, Woods looked dominant as ever in that red
shirt on Sunday to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
It was his first PGA Tour victory since a sex scandal at the end of 2009 led to one
of the greatest downfalls in sports. And with the Masters only two weeks away,
Woods looks more capable than ever of resuming his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus in
Woods closed with a 2-under 70 for a five-shot win over Graeme McDowell.
The question two weeks ago was when he could play again. Now, it's whether he
can get back to being the player who once ruled golf.
Woods refused to acknowledge this as his first PGA Tour win in 923 days, dating
to Sept. 13, 2009, at the BMW Championship. He counts the unofficial Chevron
World Challenge last December. Even so, this was significant — a full tour event
against a strong field, and a performance so clean that he was never seriously
challenged on the back nine.
The final hole was a mere formality, and Woods tapped his putter on the ground
waiting for his turn, knowing that 30 months without a win on the PGA Tour was
about to end. He walked off the green with his arm extended, waving his cap to a
"It does feel good. It feels really good," Woods said before signing his card. "It's
been a lot of hard work."
The only thing missing was the host himself.
Palmer's blood pressure increased during the final round from new medications,
and he was taken to the hospital about 15 minutes before the tournament ended as
a precaution. Alaistair Johnston, vice chairman at IMG and his longtime business
manager, said Palmer would be kept overnight. "Nobody is overly concerned," he
Woods goes to No. 6 in the world, returning to the top 10 for the first time since
He finished at 13-under 275 for his 72nd PGA Tour win, one short of Nicklaus for
second place on the career list. But that's not the record Woods wants. He has 14
majors, four short of the Nicklaus standard, and he tries to end a four-year drought
at the Masters, which starts April 5.
"I am excited, no doubt," Woods said. "I'm looking forward to the momentum I've
It was the first time Woods had all four rounds under par since he returned from
his personal crisis at the 2010 Masters.
McDowell made a 45-foot birdie putt and a 50-foot eagle putt early in the round to
try to stay close, though he was never closer than two shots after starting with a
double bogey. He closed with a 74.
"I think he really just kind of nailed home his comeback," McDowell said. "Great
to have a front-row seat watching maybe the greatest of all time doing what he
does best — winning golf tournaments."
Ernie Els failed in his bid to get into the Masters. The three-time major champion
started the final round three shots behind, but twice missed par putts inside 3 feet
and shot 75. He would have needed a two-way tie for second to crack the top 50 in
the world. Instead, he tied for fourth and moved up only four spots to No. 58 in the
world. He will have to win the Houston Open next week to avoid missing the
Masters for the first time since 1993.
This day belonged to Woods, as it used to at Arnie's place.