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Tiger Woods returns in search of another Bay Hill win

Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour on Thursday looking for his ninth title in 10 appearances worldwide.

The world number one does not have far to travel from his home in Windermere, Florida, a 15-minute drive to the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Club.

Woods has taken a break since his record 8&7 win over fellow countryman Stewart Cink in the final of last month’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Marana, Arizona.

The 32-year-old American will be chasing his fifth victory in the Palmer event.

After landing his 63rd PGA Tour title at Marana, Woods edged ahead of Palmer into fourth place in the all-time standings. Only Sam Snead (82), Jack Nicklaus (73) and Ben Hogan (64) have won more.

Few doubt Woods will rise further up the standings and Sean O’Hair, winner of the Tampa Bay Championship on Sunday, believes he is already the game’s all-time number one.

“He is the greatest the sport has ever seen. Obviously he has not outdone Mr.Nicklaus yet but I think he will very soon,” O’Hair told reporters on Tuesday.

Woods has 13 major victories to his credit and is attempting to overhaul Nicklaus’s record of 18.

“I think it is cool to play in the same era as Tiger,” said O’Hair. “I think he is just great for the game.

“I think he’s like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and all of those guys in one guy, that is the cool thing about Tiger.”

Others are more circumspect, noting the role Palmer played in popularising golf in the 1960s.

“What he did for the game is probably the equivalent to what Tiger is doing now,” said South African Trevor Immelman.

“He took it to a whole new level and made it so popular. All of us owe him a lot for that.”

Palmer, celebrating the 30th year of the event at his club, will watch what should be a fascinating tournament involving 30 of the leading 50 players in the world.

Among the competitors are holder Vijay Singh of Fiji, world number two Phil Mickelson and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger.

World number three Ernie Els pulled out citing fatigue but John Daly and Colin Montgomerie will feature having been handed sponsor’s exemptions.


March 12, 2008

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