Tiger Woods Wins Arnold Palmer Invitational for First Win Since Knee Surgery
Monday, March 30, 2009
ORLANDO, March 29 -- The clutch shots. The late charge. An electric birdie putt on the 18th hole at Bay Hill.
Tiger Woods is back.
With those familiar back-nine heroics and a putt most everyone knew he was going to make, Woods holed a 15-footer for birdie to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational for his first victory since returning from knee surgery.
Woods closed with a 3-under-par 67 for a one-shot victory over hard-luck Sean O'Hair, matching his largest comeback on the PGA Tour.
"It feels good to be back in contention, to feel the rush," Woods said. "It's been a while, but God, it felt good."
Just like last year, when Woods made a 25-foot birdie on the final hole at Bay Hill for a one-shot victory, he delivered a high-charged celebration. Instead of slamming his cap to the ground, he turned and ran into the arms of his caddie, who lifted him off his feet.
Then came the meeting with the tournament host.
"What was it I told you last year?" Palmer said with a wide grin.
Palmer has seen enough of Woods to know what to expect. Woods won at Bay Hill for the sixth time, the fourth tour event he has won at least that often.
This one was special.
Woods had not been atop the leader board 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 at World Golf Championships events, there were questions whether he would be ready for the Masters in two weeks. Not anymore. He rallied from a five-shot deficit and delivered one crucial shot after another in fading sunlight.