Tiger Woods insists his game is approaching its best in time for next week’s US Masters at Augusta National.

The World No.1 won his first tournament at the weekend’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill since returning from an enforced seven-month absence due to reconstructive knee surgery. Despite being five shots off the pace and leader Sean O’Hair going into the final round, the 14-time Major winner fought bravely with a series of gusty par and sand saves, and claimed his 66th PGA Tour title by sinking a 16-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole.

The win was his sixth at Bay Hill, and was a timely reminder to his rivals that he remains on course for a 15th Major and fifth Masters Green Jacket in Georgia next weekend. After making his comeback at last month’s WGC Matchplay in Arizona, where he lost in the second round to South African Tim Clark, Woods played steady golf for a tied ninth-place finish at Doral in the CA Championship.

Speaking after his win at Bay Hill, Woods said: “I was hoping I could get my game where I could feel hitting shots again because I’d only been on the range and putting at home. Doral was great because I got better each round. This week I came right out of the gate. I got a lot out of my golf. Good saves, big putts at certain times and that’s what you have to do to score.”

Unsurprisingly, Woods’ odds for the season’s opening Major have been cut since his win, and can be found at a best price of 2/1. World number two, Phil Mickelson, who made clear his intentions to win his third Green Jacket by playing two practice rounds at Augusta earlier this month, is at a best price of 8/1.


Where next?

Latest US Masters news
Augusta Masters hole-by-hole guide
Wilson Staff kit the best: Gene Sarazen and Padraig Harrington
US Masters history
Augusta Blog

US Masters pictures
The English Contingent at the US Masters at Augusta 2009
US Masters 2009 – The Contenders