For Tiger Woods, the stats show that his victory Monday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational is his eighth win at Bay Hill, his sixth in his last 20 PGA starts and his 77th on the PGA Tour.
But the best number is 1 — and that’s a position Woods will again occupy in the world golf rankings, reclaiming the top spot for the first time in 29 months with his two-stroke victory in Orlando. After his game and personal life plummeted in the fall of 2010, Woods has gotten both together, winning three events this year and, last week, announcing that he is dating Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn.
Number 1 !!!!!!!!!!!!!
— lindsey vonn (@lindseyvonn) March 25, 2013
This No. 1 Woods was relaxed, happy and confident at Bay Hill. Not even missing a long, initial putt on the 18th green could bother him. He just grinned, couldn’t believe he’d missed and bit his putter. Woods finished with a final-round 2-under 790, 13 under par and two shots ahead of Justin Rose. “I play well here,” he told the Golf Channel with a smile, “and that’s about as simple as it gets.”
For the 11th time, he’s ranked first in the world. “It was just a byproduct, a byproduct of hard work and getting back to winning golf tournaments,” he said. “Consequently, I’ve moved up.”
Now he’ll see if he can get back on track as far as major tournament wins go. He has been stuck on 14 since winning the U.S. Open in 2008 and the Masters, which he has won four times, starts April 11. Woods measures his success by his major titles, but wasn’t buying the idea that he has to win one to be considered officially back on top again.
“That’s their opinion,” he said of those who would suggest that he needs a major win. “I’m very pleased with the way I’m playing.”
Woods was comedic rather than combative in his post-match press conference, joking with reports. He said he’ll prepare for Augusta after a few days off, feeling happy and healthy. How long has it been since he felt this good?
“It’s been a few years.”
— CBSSports.com (@CBSSports) March 25, 2013