Arnold Palmer Invitational 2013
Tiger Woods claims win and World No.1 March 25, 2013
Tiger Woods is back to No. 1 in the world with a game that looks as good as ever.
Woods walked off the 18th green Monday waving his putter over his head - his magic wand this week at Bay Hill - to acknowledge the fans who have seen this act before. He won the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the eighth time to tie a PGA Tour record that had not been touched in 48 years.
This win had extra significance. It returned Woods to the top of the world ranking for the first time since the final week of October 2010, the longest spell of his career.
''It's a byproduct of hard work, patience and getting back to winning golf tournaments,'' he said.
Woods never let anyone closer than two shots in the final round at Bay Hill that was delayed one day by storms. With a conservative bogey he could afford on the last hole, he closed with a 2-under 70 for a two-shot win over Justin Rose.
Next up is the Masters, where Woods will try to end his five-year drought in the majors.
Woods fell as low as No. 58 in the world as he coped with a crisis in his personal life and injuries to his left leg. One week after he announced he was dating Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn, Woods celebrated his third win of the season, and his sixth going back to Bay Hill a year ago.
''Number 1 !!!!!!!!!!!!!'' Vonn tweeted moments after his win.
Like so many other victories, this one was never really close.
Rickie Fowler pulled to within two shots with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole, but after he and Woods made bogey on the 15th, Fowler went at the flag on the par-5 16th and came up a few yards short and into the water. Fowler put another ball into the water and made triple bogey.
''I was swinging it well. I made a few putts, and trying to put a little pressure on them, let them know I was there,'' Fowler said. ''Just would like to have that 7-iron back on 16. Just kind of a touch heavy.''
Woods played it safe on the 18th, and nearly holed a 75-foot par putt that even drew a big smile from the tournament host.
Woods tied the tour record of eight wins in a single tournament. Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times from 1938 to 1965 at two golf courses. Woods tied his record for most wins at a single golf course, having also won eight times at Torrey Pines, including a U.S. Open.
''I don't really see anybody touching it for a long time,'' Palmer said while Woods made his way up the 18th fairway. ''I had the opportunity to win a tournament five times, and I knew how difficult that was.''
Rose, who played the first two rounds with Woods, closed with a 70 to finish alone in second.
He pulled to within two shots of Woods with a birdie on the 16th. Woods was in the group behind him in the fairway bunker on the par 5, and hit 8-iron over the water and onto the middle of the green for a two-putt birdie to restore his margin.
''He plays every shot like he plays them on Sunday,'' Rose said. ''His intensity is the same on Thursday often as it is on Sunday, and that makes Sunday a lot less different for him. He plays in that kind of atmosphere far more regularly than a lot of guys do, and it's an adjustment for most of us. It's a known for him.''
Fowler had to settle for a 73 and a tie for third with Mark Wilson (71), Keegan Bradley (71) and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (72).
Rory McIlroy had been No. 1 since he won the PGA Championship last August. He can reclaim the No. 1 ranking by winning the Houston Open this week. Woods heads home to south Florida for two weeks before the Masters.
Asked the last time he felt this good going to Augusta National, Woods replied, ''It's been a few years.''
This was the fourth time in his career that he already had three PGA Tour wins before the Masters - he didn't win a green jacket in any of the previous years (2000, 2003 and 2008). More telling, perhaps, is that Woods has won back-to-back starts for the first time since the Buick Open and Bridgestone Invitational in August 2009.
''I think it shows that my game is consistent,'' he said. ''It's at a high level.''
Woods finished at 13-under 275 and won for the 77th time on the PGA Tour, moving to within five of Snead's record.
Fowler, his first time playing with Woods in the final group, opened with eight pars when he needed to be making up ground. And when he finally had a few openings on the back nine, Woods refused to let him through.
Woods salvaged a two-putt par with a 7-footer on the 11th hole to keep a three-shot lead. On the next hole, Fowler looked to gain some momentum when he made a 40-foot birdie putt. Woods answered with a 25-foot birdie putt. Fowler was standing off the green when Woods made it, and turned with the slightest smile on his face as if to say, ''What can you do?''
The answer at the moment: Not much.
Woods produced some absurd statistics with the putter this week, making 19 of 28 putts from between 7 feet and 20 feet.
He walked off the green to share a handshake with Palmer, along with a big smile and some words that Woods said were best kept private. He left the course in that familiar blue blazer that goes to the winner.
And he left as the No. 1 player in the world. It's the 11th time that Woods has gone back to No. 1, tied with Greg Norman since the ranking began in 1986. Still to be determined is how long Woods stays there this time.
Storm forces Monday finish
March 25, 2013
Tiger Woods's bid to regain the world number one ranking will have to wait a day after violent thunderstorms hit the Bay Hill Club, halting the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday.
After assessing damage by the powerful storm the PGA Tour announced the final round would resume on Monday at 10 a.m. EDT.
"We just got so much rain and wind, we've got some bunker problems, we've got a lot of standing water. That is the main thing," Mark Russell, PGA Tour vice-president of rules and competitions, told reporters. "It just got to the point where we weren't going to be able to get the golf course ready.
"They're going to go out now and work till dark and then do the same thing at daybreak and try to get ready to play."
Woods had rolled in an 11-foot birdie putt on the second hole to open up a three-shot cushion when warning horns were sounded to evacuate the course, sending spectators and players running for cover.
Heavy rains and violent winds, reported at over 50 mph, soon followed, ripping branches from trees, cutting off power and turning Bay Hill into one massive water hazard.
"We didn't get in much," said Woods. "We got in two holes and hopefully the course will be drained and we can get after it tomorrow."
The 14-time major winner can reclaim the number one world ranking from Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy with a victory at Bay Hill, where he has won seven times previously.
The PGA Tour has been plagued by weather woes this season.
Torrey Pines was forced to a Monday finish because of fog while high winds pushed the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii to a Tuesday conclusion.
"At least we got a little activity in today, so we're not completely stagnant," said Woods. "We've dealt with this before.
"We had that fog delay in San Diego, and this is part of playing outside. We've got to deal with conditions like this."
Officials reported no injuries but there was damage to several television installations and towers.
With the Sunday forecast calling for heavy rains, PGA officials were questioned on why they did not try to beat the storm by sending players off both the first and 10th tees.
"We talked about that (split tees) yesterday," admitted Russell. "We had a 50-50 chance, and we decided to try...we decided to play off one tee and the weather got us.
"We just got unlucky today. It's unfortunate, but there is nothing we can do about it."
It may take more than severe storm to keep Woods from taking an eighth Bay Hill title and reclaim the number one throne.
After a staggering 623 total weeks as number one, Woods has not sat atop the rankings for 29 months, a barren stretch that included two-and-half years without a PGA Tour win.
But Woods has been back in top form this season, having won twice in four starts with a chance to add a 77th PGA Tour victory to his resume on Monday and move within five of Sam Snead's record of 82.
Arnold Palmer Invitational 2013 Final Scores