Tiger Woods scored his first PGA Tour victory since 2009, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard by five strokes over Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell.
It had been 923 days since Woods last tasted victory on the PGA Tour in the 2009 BMW Championship, and the former World Number 1 could not conceal his elation as he made his way up the 72nd hole.
“Pure joy,” he described it as.
Woods began the final day one clear of Graeme McDowell, the Northern Irishman who beat him in a playoff for the Chevron World Challenge of 2010. But that lead quickly became three as McDowell found a plugged lie in the sand on the 1st hole, blasted out into another bunker then failed to get up-and-down to record an opening double bogey.
The 2010 US Open champion attempted to hold on to Tiger’s coat tails and long putts at the 3rd for birdie and 6th for eagle kept the American in sight.
But McDowell faltered at the start of the back nine, missing a handful of holeable putts. Woods turned on the cruise control and seemed in total command of his game as he closed out the victory.
“I’ve been close for a number of tournaments now,” he said. “And it was just a matter of staying the course and staying patient, keeping working on fine-tuning what we’re doing. And here we are.”
With the victory Woods has moved back to 6th on the Official World Golf Ranking and his odds of picking up a 15th Major title at the US Masters in two weeks time have been significantly shortened.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the momentum I’ve built here.”
McDowell carded a final round 74 but that was sufficient to secure second place. Another Brit, Ian Poulter, was alone in third.
Ernie Els failed to secure a spot at the Masters with his tied fourth place finish. The big South African needed at tied second finish to break into the World’s top-50. He’ll have one more chance but will need to win next week’s Shell Houston Open to be playing at Augusta.
Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard
Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Florida
Mar 22-25, purse $6,000,000 par 72
1 Tiger Woods (USA) 69 65 71 70 275 $1,080,000
2 Graeme McDowell (NIR) 72 63 71 74 280 $648,000
3 Ian Poulter (Eng) 71 69 68 74 282 $408,000
T4 Bud Cauley (USA) 70 73 68 72 283 $209,571
T4 Brian Davis (Eng) 70 73 70 70 283 $209,571
T4 Ryan Moore (USA) 71 71 71 70 283 $209,571
T4 Kevin Na (USA) 73 68 69 73 283 $209,571
T4 Johnson Wagner (USA) 71 69 69 74 283 $209,571
T4 Bubba Watson (USA) 69 70 72 72 283 $209,571
T4 Ernie Els (RSA) 71 70 67 75 283 $209,571
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage
European Tour – Michael Hoey wins Trophee Hassan II