Woods back in swing of things

He tri­umphs by five shots

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports -

OR­LANDO, FLA. | Tiger Woods fi­nally brought the buzz back to the very thing that made him fa­mous — win­ning.

Two weeks af­ter an­other in­jury scare, and two days be­fore his for­mer coach’s book goes on sale, Woods looked dom­i­nant as ever in that red shirt Sun­day to win the Arnold Palmer In­vi­ta­tional.

It was his first PGA Tour vic­tory since a sex scan­dal at the end of 2009 led to one of the great­est down­falls in sports. And with the Mas­ters only two weeks away, Woods looks more ca­pa­ble of ever than re­sum­ing his pur­suit of Jack Nick­laus in the ma­jors.

Woods closed with a 2-un­der 70 for a five-shot win over Graeme Mc­dow­ell.

The ques­tion two weeks ago was when he could play again. Now, it’s whether he can get back to be­ing the player who once ruled golf.

Even though he won the un­of­fi­cial Chevron World Chal­lenge last De­cem­ber, this was mean­ing­ful for Woods — a full tour event against a strong field, and a per­for­mance so clean that he never was se­ri­ously chal­lenged on the back nine.

The final hole was a mere for­mal­ity, and Woods tapped his put­ter on the ground wait­ing for his turn, know­ing that 30 months with­out a win on the PGA Tour was about to end. He walked off the green with his arm ex­tended, wav­ing his cap to a rau­cous gallery.

“It does feel good. It feels re­ally good,” Woods said be­fore sign­ing his card. “It’s been a lot of hard work.”

Woods fin­ished at 13-un­der 275 for his 72nd PGA Tour win, one short of Nick­laus for sec­ond place on the ca­reer list. But that’s not the record Woods wants. He has 14 ma­jors, four shot of the Nick­laus stan­dard, and he tries to end a four-year drought at the Mas­ters, which starts April 5.

“I am ex­cited, no doubt,” Woods said. “I’m look­ing for­ward to the mo­men­tum I’ve built here.”

It was the first time Woods had all four rounds un­der par since he re­turned from his per­sonal cri­sis at the 2010 Mas­ters.

Mc­dow­ell made a 45-foot birdie putt and a 50-foot ea­gle putt early in the round to try to stay close, though he was never closer than two shots af­ter start­ing with a dou­ble bo­gey. He closed with a 74.

Ernie Els failed in his bid to get into the Mas­ters. The three­time ma­jor cham­pion started the final round three shots be­hind, but twice missed par putts in­side 3 feet and shot 75. He would have needed a two-way tie for sec­ond to crack the top 50 in the world. In­stead, he tied for fourth and will have to win the Hous­ton Open next week to avoid miss­ing the Mas­ters for the first time since 1993. player to reach 15 LPGA Tour vic­to­ries. Nancy Lopez was 22 when she reached the mark.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Tiger Woods closed with a two-un­der 70 for a 13-un­der 275 to de­feat Graeme Mc­dow­ell by five strokes in the Arnold Palmer In­vi­ta­tional for his 72nd PGA Tour vic­tory.

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