Tiger back as world No 1
26 March 2013, 10:24
Orlando - Tiger Woods reclaimed the world No 1 ranking for the first time since 2010 with a closing round of two-under 70 to capture the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Monday.
With his eighth Bay Hill course triumph, the 37-year-old Woods replaces Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy atop the world rankings.
"I play well here," said Woods who earned $1.08m in prize money. "That is about as simple as it gets. It is a by product of hard work and patience."
VIDEO: Arnold Palmer Invitational, final round highlights
In a rare Monday finish, due to a severe thunder storm that postponed Sunday's round, Woods outdueled fellow American Rickie Fowler down the stretch winning by two strokes in the $6.2m event.
The 14-time major champion has previously spent a record 623 weeks on top of the world.
But he has not topped the rankings for nearly three years after injuries and an infamous sex scandal saw him tumble from the top 50.
Woods also claimed his 77th PGA Tour victory - and 99th professional tournament win - in his final tune-up event for next month's Masters.
Sunday's storm swept across the Bay Hill Club & Lodge course in dramatic fashion with gusting winds toppling trees and television towers.
Woods and playing partner Fowler began Monday on the third hole and Woods quickly set the tone with birdies on a pair of par-fives, the No 4 and No 6 holes.
He finished on 18 with a bogey but it was enough to reach 13-under 275, giving him the win and propelling him into No 1 for the first time since October 2010.
"I am getting back to winning golf tournaments," Woods said. "I won some golf tournaments the last couple years so consequently I moved up."
Runner-up Justin Rose fired a two-under 70 to finish at 11-under while Fowler stumbled down the stretch and closed with a one-over 73 to end in a four-way tie for third at eight-under 280.
Fowler finished alongside Mark Wilson (71), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (72) and 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley (71).
Woods has now won 51 times in 55 tries when holding the lead entering the final round and is five wins shy of matching Sam Snead's all-time record on the PGA Tour. He and Snead are also the only players to win the same tournament eight times with Snead doing it at the Greater Greensboro Open.
Last summer, Fowler and Woods played in the penultimate group in the final round of the Memorial tournament. Fowler shot 84, Woods 67 as Woods went on to win.
On Monday, Woods pulled away on the par-five 16 with a brilliant approach shot out of a fairway bunker that stopped 35 feet from the cup. He then two-putted for a birdie to reach -14 under.
Leading final-round scores on Monday from the PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Invitational (USA unless noted, par-72):
275 - Tiger Woods 69-70-66-70
277 - Justin Rose (ENG) 65-70-72-70
280 - Mark Wilson 71-68-70-71, Keegan Bradley 74-69-66-71, Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (ESP) 69-71-68-72, Rickie Fowler 73-67-67-73
281 - Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN) 69-73-66-73
282 - William McGirt 74-70-70-68, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 71-71-69-71, Bill Haas 69-66-73-74, Jimmy Walker 69-69-70-74, Ken Duke 70-68-70-74
283 - Scott Brown 74-71-69-69
284 - Bubba Watson 74-71-72-67, Ben Kohles 69-73-70-72
285 - Chris Kirk 71-72-72-70, Camilo Villegas (COL) 71-74-70-70, Erik Compton 72-72-70-71, John Rollins 68-72-71-74, Brian Stuard 74-69-67-75
286 - Vaughn Taylor 71-74-70-71, Carl Pettersson (SWE) 72-72-71-71, Kevin Streelman 74-71-70-71, Ben Curtis 72-70-70-74, Ian Poulter (ENG) 72-69-70-75, Hunter Mahan 71-70-70-75