This week the PGA Tour heads to the magnificent Bay Hill Club in Orlando, the home of Arnold Palmer, for what will be the last stop for many of the game’s biggest stars before the Masters kicks off at Augusta next month. After winning at Doral last time out, Woods will tee it up at Bay Hill and he looks odds on favourite to be greeted by Arnie on the 18th as champion come Sunday evening. If his last showing – one of 5 wins in his last 19 starts, more than any other player – is not enough to suggest another PGA Tour victory is on its way for Tiger this week, his previous form at Bay Hill should be enough to have the rest of the field a tad concerned.
Arnold Palmer might own the place but over the last decade or so it seems as if Tiger has taken up permanent residence atop the Arnold Palmer Invitational and let’s not forget this is where he finally ended his 924 day PGA Tour win drought with a 5 shot win in 2012. Woods has won seven times at Bay Hill and it’s not just the number of wins but the significance of a number of them that really makes his record here impressive.
Bay Hill is home to 27 holes, the Champion, Challenger and Charger courses and a combination of any two offers a world class test of golf.
In the early noughties, Woods won four Arnold Palmer Invitationals in a row; the most consecutive wins in the same event in PGA Tour history. In 2008 he drained a 25 footer for birdie on the final hole to claim victory and move level with the great Ben Hogan on 64 PGA Tour wins. A year later he completed a 5 shot final round comeback against Sean O’Hair with, yes you guessed it, yet another final hole birdie. His 2009 win also marked another comeback of sorts as it was his first since returning from the knee injury that was so evident at his 2008 US Open win at Torrey Pines. And then there was the 5 shot victory this time last year which was the first major step in his return to form following “Fire Hydrant Gate”. A win this week would also see yet another notch being added to Tiger’s belt as far as PGA Tour records are concerned as an 8th win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational would tie Sam Snead’s record for most wins in a single event.
Tiger has produced fireworks on the 18th at Bay Hill in the past. Will he be greeted as Champion by The King come Sunday evening?
While all signs point to PGA tour title number 77 for Tiger this week, let’s not hand the trophy to Woods just yet. Yes Tiger loves Bay Hill and while his two wins in 2013 have come at venues that have been equally as kind to him in the past – Tigers has won 8 times at Torrey Pines and 7 times on the Blue Monster at Doral – he has never won at all three venues in the same calendar year, despite clinching wins at two out of the three on four separate occasions.
This week’s tournament has added significance as far as the world rankings go as well. Should Tiger win he will usurp Rory McIlroy as the world’s best player, although with McIlroy’s well documented struggles on the course in 2013, many already believe that to be the case; unofficially at least.
Should Tiger win this week, it will be hard to look past him at The Masters which, mercifully for the majority of golf fans, is only three weeks away! Whether or not he arrives at the 1st Major Championship 0f 2013 as the official world number one, the action at Bay Hill should be riveting and a great warm up for Augusta.
Here are some Memorable Moments from previous Arnold Palmer Invitationals…guess who boasts plenty of screen time!?
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