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Tiger Woods eyes sixth Bay Hill victory

Tiger Woods’ rivals may feel as if they are stepping into his private lair this week when the American world number one defends his Arnold Palmer Invitational title at Bay Hill Club in Orlando.

Although Woods will be playing only his third tournament since being sidelined for eight months after having reconstructive knee surgery midway through last year, he has established a remarkable record at the Florida venue.

He won the first of his three consecutive U.S. junior amateur titles there in 1991 and this week will be seeking to triumph for a record sixth time at the PGA Tour event hosted by Palmer.

“I’ve had good success there,” Orlando resident Woods said on his official website.

“We all love to support Arnold’s tournament—he helped put professional golf on the map.

“Plus, I get to sleep in my own bed,” added the 14-times major winner. “It’s always nice to basically have something on at home and you can keep your routine.”

Last year, Woods won the event in dramatic fashion with a 25-foot birdie putt on the last hole to beat fellow American Bart Bryant by one stroke.

“I don’t know how I did that,” the 33-year-old recalled of his stylish finish. “I just wanted to get the speed right and make sure I didn’t leave myself a second putt … and it went in.”

Woods’ victory, his 64th on the PGA Tour, followed a run of four successive wins at Bay Hill from 2000.

“This (course) has always fit my eye since the junior golf days,” he said. “You have to play well in order to win the tournament. You can’t go out there and slap it around and try and shoot something in the mid 60s here.”

Should Woods go on to clinch the title on Sunday, it would be the fourth PGA Tour event where he has triumphed six times.

He has already achieved the feat at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the WGC-CA Championship and the Buick Invitational.

Only Sam Snead, with an astonishing run of eight victories at the Greater Greensboro Classic between 1938 and 1965, has won a PGA Tour event more than six times.

Although Woods will start Thursday’s opening round as the overwhelming favourite, he faces a strong field including three other members of the world’s top 10.

Fifth-ranked Irishman Padraig Harrington, 2007 champion Vijay Singh of Fiji (sixth) and 2005 winner Kenny Perry of the U.S. (10th) are also competing.


March 25, 2009

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