Drought buster: Tiger wins by 5 at Bay Hill|
Orlando, FL (Sports Network) - And on the 924th day, the drought ended.
Tiger Woods closed with a two-under 70 on Sunday to easily win the Arnold
Palmer Invitational for a seventh time.
Woods ended at 13-under-par 275 to win by five strokes. The victory was his
first official PGA Tour title since the 2009 BMW Championship.
Later that year, he was involved in a Thanksgiving weekend car accident, the
aftermath of which led to a Woods' divorce. He has also battled several
injuries in the interim, but that is all behind him now.
Woods picked up tour title No. 72, which moves him within one victory of his
idol, Jack Nicklaus.
"It does feel good. It feels really good. It's been a lot of hard work," Woods
said in a televised interview. "Today was unbelievable. The conditions were
Graeme McDowell, who beat Woods at his own tournament in 2010 when the duo was
paired together in the final group, was unable to repeat that feat on Sunday.
McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, struggled to a two-over 74 to end alone
in second at minus-eight.
Ian Poulter took third at six-under-par 282 after closing with a 74.
Ernie Els needed a solo third-place finish or better to get inside the top 50
in the world rankings, which would have gotten him into the Masters. However,
he struggled to a three-over 75, which left him tied for fourth at minus-five.
Els was joined there by Brian Davis (70), Kevin Na (73), Ryan Moore (70),
Bubba Watson (72), Johnson Wagner (74) and Bud Cauley (72).
Woods entered the final round one clear of McDowell. The last two times Woods
had the 54-hole lead, he lost. The first was when McDowell beat Woods at the
2010 Chevron World Challenge. Earlier this year, Woods lost to Robert Rock in
a European Tour event.
On this day, there was no stopping Woods.
McDowell stumbled to a double-bogey at the first and was suddenly three back.
Woods then dropped a shot at the second. Both players steadied the ship with
birdies on the par-four third.
"You know, it wasn't the start I was looking for. I hit my irons to the
correct side all week, and the first hole today I got under a five-iron and
buried that thing in a bunker, and that led to a six," McDowell said in a TV
Woods made it two in a row as he rolled in a 14-footer for birdie on the
McDowell didn't have his best stuff in the final round, but he kept fighting.
He poured in a 51-foot eagle putt from the fringe on the par-five sixth. That
briefly got him within one, but Woods had an answer of his own.
Woods had 16 feet for eagle, and narrowly missed that. He tapped in for birdie
to lead by two. At the eighth, Woods stuffed his approach within three feet
and knocked that putt in for birdie and a three-stroke lead.
No one got closer the rest of the way.
McDowell bogeyed the ninth, but got that stroke back with a birdie on the
11th. However, he faltered to a bogey on the 12th. McDowell dropped two more
strokes down the stretch to fall back.
"The big turning point was the missed putt at nine," McDowell admitted on
television. "I misread that putt, then I got too aggressive with my lay up at
12 and hit it in a trap, then three-putted. I never really got close enough to
him. It's good to have [Tiger] back winning tournaments though."
Starting at the ninth, Woods two-putted for par on five consecutive holes. He
missed the green at the 14th, but chipped to six feet.
Woods missed the par putt, but was still four clear as McDowell also bogeyed
that hole. Woods made a clutch 12-footer for par on 15 before three-putting
for par from the fringe on the 16th.
Woods hit several safe shots in the final two holes. He two-putted for par
from 53 feet at 17, then dropped his approach to 33 feet at the last. Woods
two-putted for a closing par to snap the longest drought of his career.
Woods' closing 70 was bettered by just two players in the final round. He was
the only player in the last eight groups to break par and one of just 16
players that broke par in the final round.
Excluding Woods, the final 15 players on the course combined to shoot 37-over
"I don't know what the average score was today, but certainly wasn't anywhere
near par," Woods said. "It was a very tough day. It was a day of attrition.
There weren't going to be a lot of birdie opportunities out there."
NOTES: Woods earned $1.08 million for the win...He has won 49-of-53 times in
which he owned at least a piece of the 54-hole lead...This was his seventh win
at this event and he has also won the WGC-Bridgstone Invitational seven
times...Els will need to win the Houston Open next week or get an invitation
from Augusta National in order to get into the field for The Masters...Last
year's winner Martin Laird closed with a four-over 76 to tumble into a share
of 36th at plus-two...Phil Mickelson will defend his title next week at the
03/25 19:41:53 ET