Tiger returns to winning at Bay Hill
|Arnold Palmer (PGA)|
|View Full Leaderboard|
By DOUG FERGUSON
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Tiger Woods had not felt such an adrenaline rush in nine months, especially when he stood over a 12-foot birdie putt Sunday at Bay Hill with only enough sunlight remaining for one last shot.
It made Woods forget that it had been nine months since he played under so much pressure.
And then he made golf remember the magic it had been missing.
With cameras flashing in the approaching darkness, Woods delivered another rock-star moment by making a birdie on the final hole to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational by one shot and match the largest comeback in his PGA Tour career.
"It feels good to be back in contention, to feel the rush," Woods said. "It's been awhile, but God, it felt good."
It sure looked that way.
Just like last year, when Woods made a 25-foot birdie on the final hole at Bay Hill to win by one, he crouched and backpedaled as the putt rolled toward the cup. But instead of slamming his cap to the ground, he gave a roundhouse fist pump and ran into the arms of caddie Steve Williams, who lifted him off the ground in celebration.
Welcome back, Tiger.
"Last year ... there wasn't any big comeback or anything. I was out there just competing as usual," Woods said. "This time, it was a little bit different. I hadn't been in the mix since the U.S. Open, so it was neat to feel the heat on the back nine again."
Starting the final round five shots behind, Woods closed with a 3-under 67 for a one-shot victory over hard-luck Sean O'Hair. It was the third time he won at Bay Hill with a birdie putt on the 18th hole, and this uphill putt was the easiest of all.
But it was just as sweet, especially walking off the green to see a beaming tournament host.
"What was it I told you last year?" Palmer said as he grabbed Woods by the shoulder.
Palmer has seen enough of Woods to know what to expect. Woods won at Bay Hill for the sixth time, the fourth PGA Tour event he has won at least that often.
Woods had not been atop the leaderboard since he won the U.S. Open in a 19-hole playoff last June. He had reconstructive surgery on his left knee a week later, and missed the next eight months.
With two indifferent results, there were questions whether he would be ready for the Masters in two weeks.
Woods donned the blue blazer that goes to the Bay Hill winner. That could go a long way toward winning another jacket at Augusta National, different color.
"Certainly, this win definitely validates all the things I've been trying to do," Woods said.
O'Hair made only one birdie and closed with a 73, but he steadied himself along the back nine until a crucial mistake on the 16th hole, when he went at the flag with Woods in the rough. His 7-iron came up short and into the water, leading to a bogey.
"I think what happened is when the sun was going down a little bit, I guess that kind of proved to me that the ball wasn't quite going as far," O'Hair said.
He might be right, for Woods ran into the same problem a hole later. He posed over a 4-iron that he thought was flush, tongue hanging out of his mouth like Michael Jordan when he knew a shot was going in. This one plugged under the lip of the front bunker, and Woods made bogey to fall into a tie.
That set up the dramatic finish with only minutes of daylight remaining, thanks to a two-hour rain delay in the morning.
It was the second straight year that O'Hair had to watch Woods celebrate. They were in the final group a year ago when Woods made his big birdie putt to beat Bart Bryant. This one stung even more.
"It's just a little bit disappointing that I couldn't close it," O'Hair said.
Woods finished at 5-under 275 and won $1.08 million for his 66th career victory. Only once in his career has Woods failed to win a PGA Tour even in the three months leading to the Masters, but more Bay Hill magic took care of that.
Zach Johnson shot 69 and finished third, although he was treated to quite a show playing in the last group.
"I tried to stay in my own world, and for the most part I did that," Johnson said. "It's kind of hard when you're seeing what you're seeing. Obviously Tiger, when he needs to step up, he does it. It was impressive to watch."
Woods was running out of holes until he came up with two clutch putts, the kind he has made throughout his career.
The most pivotal came at the 14th, when he was one shot behind and caught yet another plugged lie under the lip of a bunker. Woods did well to blast out to just over 12 feet, while O'Hair had 15 feet for birdie. Make it, and he could go up by three.
O'Hair narrowly missed, and Woods holed his putt for par. On the next hole, Woods made a 25-foot birdie putt to tie for the lead.
There were three lead changes over the final three holes, and a predictable winner.
It was a struggle from the start for O'Hair.
He didn't hit a fairway until the sixth hole, and he didn't have a birdie putt inside 30 feet until the ninth hole. The game was on after a two-shot swing on the third hole, when O'Hair missed the green to the right and made bogey, and Woods made an 8-footer for his second straight birdie to close within two shots.
They were separated by one shot for most of the back nine, with momentum seemingly on Woods' side, but not the lead. That didn't come until the 16th hole, and then he needed one more clutch shot to return to a familiar place.
"It's like Stevie was saying out there," Woods said of caddie Steve Williams. "This feels like we hadn't left. You just remember how to do it. It hasn't been that long for me, but you just have that feel of what to do. And it's a matter of getting it done."
Updated March 29, 2009
Daniel Jeremiah calls NFL Sunday to preview the NFL Draft and discuss what the New England Patriots will be looking to do starting Thursday night.
In hour 2 of NFL Sunday, we get more draft talk from Price and Dickerson. They discuss if the Pats will trade up or down at all or what they can get by staying put. Also, what does the RB position look like for New England? We hear from Daniel Jeremiah from the NFL Network and NFL.com and get his thoughts on the NFL draft and what the Patriots will do. Finally, the boys talk about the Greg Hardy situation in Dallas.
It's finally the week of the NFL Draft and the guys are psyched. They kick off the show discussing the release of the NFL schedule and how they expect the Pats to do against a relatively easy road for the Super Bowl champs. Greg and Chris talk about any difficult match-ups and if any teams in the AFC East can contend with the Patriots. Then the boys move on to the Draft and where the Pats may go. WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia joins the program to discuss his thoughts on the upcoming draft, the Pats needs and his ideas on why the Patriots may in fact trade up this season.
Greg Dickerson and John Tomase discuss the amazing season for the Celts and if they have any chance against Lebron and the Cleveland Cavs in a seven game series. If they do, HOW ... how do they get it done?
Brian "White Mamba" Scalabrine joins the guys to talk about the Celtics playoff push, the development of Marcus Smart and James Young, and the prospect of Brad Stevens leaving the Celtics for a college job.
Brow Buff's Sam Packard and Ben Kichen break down Marcus Smart's unfortunate ball tap, debate leadership in the Celtics locker room, and rehash the great Kevin Love to Boston rumors.
Joe and Dave talk with Red Sox super utility man Brock Holt, who hit the game winning 3 run home run that propelled the Red Sox over the Baltimore Orioles, and played some stellar defense to seal the win.
Continued Red Sox talk on benching Victorino and the Red Sox pitching issues..and Sean's love for the band Poison.
Dale and Michael check in with the Red Sox manager John Farrell for his weekly take on all things Boston Red Sox.
The awesomely knowledgeable Fluto Shinzawa calls DJ, Naoko and Pete to talk about his thoughts on the future of the B's. He discusses his column from earlier this week on Cam Neely wanting to give Claude the ax earlier in the season but not getting the ok. Fluto shares his thoughts on Chiarelli's firing, the future for Claude and where the Bruins should go from here. He also gives his opinion on potential moves the team can make, who would fit in here, his thoughts on the NHL playoffs so far and more.
In the final hour of the "midseason finale" as DJ likes to call it, the crew discuss more about the future of the Bruins franchise, the possible power struggle in the front office and who should be the head coach going forward. They talk to intelligent and talented Fluto Shinzawa about all of these thing and more in an excellent interview, and finally, DJ says THANK YOU!
DJ, Naoko and Pete get into the huge week for the Bruins that saw the franchise move on from GM Peter Chiarelli. They discuss why that was done and if they agree. What does this mean for Claude? They talk about Claude and if he can exist here. If not, who would work in Boston? They also get into the NHL Draft Lottery last night and talk to ESPN Boston's Joey "National" McDonald live from Tampa, Florida.
Gary, Gerry and Kirk talk about a set of parents who decided to have their child's gender changed into being a boy.
The guys talk about the Tsarnaev family arriving in Boston and staying at a local hotel. Michele McPhee joins the show to talk about the family.
Gary, Gerry and Kirk argue about whether or not Tom Brady's absence from the Patriots' trip to the White House was disrespectful or not.
Led by Christian Fauria, the guys delve into 5 topics relating to all the hometown teams. There is a new intro by a special guest, plus Lou Merloni, DJ extraordinaire, nails the post.
The guys debate whether or not the Celtics even have a chance against the Cavs in game 4 and what the mentality of fans should be.
We check in with Senior White House Correspondent Joe Zarbano on this edition of Aloha Friday
Michael, Jerry and Dale speak with draft guru Todd McShay of ESPN for some insight on what the Patriots might do in the upcoming draft.
We talk to Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com and discuss his column on Rajon Rondo from ESPN and ESPN the Magazine.
Dale and Michael discuss some news on deflategate as the 100 day mark approaches us.
Mikey, Lenny, and Erin talk about the Sox 7-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Patriots Day and the Sox hold on first place in the AL East. Also, the Celtics trail the Cavs 1 Game to 0 in their 1st Round series and the 2015 Boston Marathon is in the books.
Mikey Adams, joined by Lenny Megliola and Chris Villani, talks about the Red Sox home opening win at Fenway and the Bruins fallout after missing the playoffs including the future of Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien.
Chris Price joins Mut to talk about how Revis will heat up the Jets-Pats rivalry next season
Football fans and Fantasy Footballers know that there is NO Offseason in the NFL, so Jim and Pete are back with the first of a series of Fantasy Football Podcasts of the “NFL Draft variety.” Tune in and you’ll get an in depth analysis on Pete’s most first batch of scouting reports on this year’s crop of Rookie Targets. Jim and Pete kick it off with a lot of focus on a Runningback rich draft class, some of the top Wide Receiver talent and touch on the top Quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Enjoy!
Uncle Buck joins Chris on the show again to talk about Raw from 4/20, finishing maneuvers and gives a few classic match picks.
Ben and Sam are joined by Julian Edlow from WEEI.com to give their predictions on every series in the NBA Playoffs.
We listen in on the Patriots Super Bowl visit to the White House, and then discuss why MVP Tom Brady was not in attendance.More from this show
The guys talk about the Tsarnaev family arriving in Boston and staying at a local hotel. Michele McPhee joins the show to talk about the family.More from this show
Gary, Gerry and Kirk talk about a set of parents who decided to have their child's gender changed into being a boy.More from this show
Dale and Michael discuss some news on deflategate as the 100 day mark approaches us.More from this show