Tiger Woods wins his first tournament since 2009 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Woods cards a two-under-par final round 70 for a five-shot win over Graeme McDowell
McDowell can only manage a final round 74, the same score as third-placed Ian Poulter
Tiger Woods has finally ended a victory drought that lasted for 30 months, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five strokes to move back up to sixth in the world.
Woods carded a two-under-par final round 70 to finish well clear of Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell who slumped to a closing 74 at Bay Hill, Florida.
A 72-hole total of 275 (-13) gave Woods a remarkable seventh victory on one of his favorite courses, but his first tournament success since winning the Australian Masters in November 2009.
A beaming Woods told reporters: “It feels really good. It has been a lot of hard work and I’m so thankful for a lot of people helping me out along the way. They all know who they are.
“It was incredible to have that type of support here. I used to live here for a long time and it was neat to see some friends come out to cheer me.”
He added: “It’s always fun to play the Masters and I’m looking forward to the momentum I’ve built up here. “The things I’ve been working on are all coming together at the right time.”
The win also confirms Woods’ well-being ahead of next month’s Masters at Augusta and dispels worries about his fitness, following his withdrawal from the final round of the Cadillac tournament at Doral two weeks ago with an Achilles tendon injury.
It also moves Woods onto 72 career PGA Tour titles, one behind Jack Nicklaus but still 10 adrift of the record of Sam Snead, set between 1936 and 1965.
Woods has an ominous record when leading from the front and, starting the day just one stroke ahead of McDowell, he was never headed after his rival slumped to a double-bogey six on the very first hole.
Another player to prove his fitness was Englishman Ian Poulter, who showed he was over a recent bout of pneumonia to finish alone in third place, seven shots off Woods.