ORLANDO, Fla. — Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Monday for his 77th PGA Tour victory and has returned to the No. 1 player in the world, displacing Rory McIIroy.
Woods also won for the eighth time at Bay Hill, which matches Sam Snead’s PGA Tour record for the most wins at a single event.
Woods never let anyone closer than two shots in the final round at Bay Hill that was delayed one day by storms. With a conservative bogey he could afford on the last hole, he closed with a 2-under 70 for a two-shot win over Justin Rose.
Next up is the Masters, where Woods will try to end his five-year drought in the majors.
Woods fell as low as No. 58 in the world as he coped with a crisis in his personal life and injuries to his left leg. One week after he announced he was dating Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn, Woods celebrated his third win of the season, and his sixth going back to Bay Hill a year ago.
“It’s a byproduct of hard work, patience and getting back to winning golf tournaments,” Woods said.
Vonn tweeted moments after his win, “Number 1 !!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Like so many other wins, this one was never really close.
Rickie Fowler pulled to within two shots with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole, but after he and Woods made bogey on the 15th, Fowler went at the flag on the par-5 16th and came up a few yards short and into the water. Fowler put another ball into the water and made triple bogey.
Woods played it safe on the 18th, and nearly holed a 75-foot par putt that even drew a big smile from the tournament host. He walked off the green waving his putter over his head to acknowledge the fans who had seen this act before.
Woods tied the Tour record of eight wins in a single tournament. Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times from 1938 to 1965 at two golf courses. Woods tied his record for most wins at a single golf course, having also won eight times at Torrey Pines, including a U.S. Open.
“I don’t really see anybody touching it for a long time,” Palmer said as Woods was making his way up the 18th fairway. “I had the opportunity to win a tournament five times, and I knew how difficult that was.”
Rose, who played the first two rounds with Woods, closed with a 70 to finish alone in second.
Fowler had to settle for a 73 and a tie for third with Mark Wilson (71), Keegan Bradley (71) and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (72).
Already with three wins this year, Woods is closing in on another Snead record — 82 career wins. Woods won for the 77th time on Tour.
Leaderboard: Tiger Woods 69-70-66-70—275 (-13); Justin Rose 65-70-72-70—277 (-11); Mark Wilson 71-68-70-71—280 (-8); Keegan Bradley 74-69-66-71—280 (-8); Gonzalo Fdez-Castano 69-71-68-72—280 (-8); Rickie Fowler 73-67-67-73—280 (-8)
— Woods carded a final-round 2-under 70 on Monday to defeat Justin Rose by two strokes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard, winning the event for a PGA Tour record-tying eighth time (Sam Snead/Greater Greensboro Open). His 77th career win moves him within five wins of all-time leader Sam Snead’s 82 victories.
— With wins at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods wins in back-to-back starts for the first time since the 2009 Buick Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
— In addition to moving into the top spot in the FedExCup standings with his victory this week, Woods also supplanted Rory McIlroy for the No. 1 position in the Official World Golf Ranking. The last time he held the top spot was on October 30, 2010.
— Woods surpassed Ernie Els this week for most weeks in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking at 789. Woods had a record run of 736 consecutive weeks in the top 10 from April 13, 1997, to May 15, 2011. He returned to the top 10 on March 25, 2012, where he has since remained.
— Woods has at least seven wins at four different PGA Tour events.
- 8 – Arnold Palmer Invitational (2000-03, 2008-09, 2012-13)
- 7 – World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational (1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009)
- 7 – Farmers Insurance Open (1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2013)
- 7 – World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship (1999, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013)
— Of his eight Arnold Palmer Invitational wins, Woods has entered the final round with at least a share of the 54-hole lead seven times. In 2009, he trailed Sean O’Hair by five strokes, but won by one over O’Hair.
— Woods has converted 52 of 56 third-round leads/co-leads to victory on TOUR, including 21 of his last 22 (2009 PGA Champ). He has converted his last five third-round leads: 2009 BMW Championship, 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational, 2013 Farmers Insurance Open, 2013 WGC-Cadillac Championship and 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational. Woods’ largest 54-hole lead lost was two strokes to Y.E. Yang (2009 PGA Champ.).
— Woods is the first player to successfully defend a title since Steve Stricker at the 2011 John Deere Classic.
— Woods made three eagles this week, taking his total for the year to six. He made just four in all of 2012.
— In addition to Woods with his eight titles, the only other players with multiple victories at the Arnold Palmer Invitational are Tom Kite (1982, 1989), Loren Roberts (1994-95) and Ernie Els (1998, 2010).
— Woods made his 17th start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week, with his lone missed cut coming as an amateur in his first start of 1994. Woods has played in every event at Bay Hill since, with the exception of 2010.
— Making his fourth start of the season this week, Justin Rose earned his third-consecutive top-10 finish (2nd-Arnold Palmer Invitational, T8-World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, T4-The Honda Classic). The runner-up finish is the fifth of his career on the PGA Tour.
— Rickie Fowler (T3) and Tiger Woods were paired together this week for the second time in a final round, with the first coming at the 2012 Memorial Tournament when Fowler carded a final-round 84 compared to Woods’ winning 5-under 67. This week, Woods finished with a 70 compared to Fowler’s 73. Fowler entered the 15th hole in second place and just two strokes behind Woods, but bogeyed No. 15 and triple bogeyed No. 16 to fall behind the eventual champion’s pace.
— Woods is the 15th consecutive American winner on the PGA TOUR, dating to Tommy Gainey’s win at the 2012 McGladrey Classic. The 13 straight American winners to start this year equals the longest streak to start a season since 1989.
— Woods (Cadillac Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational) becomes just the sixth player to win multiple times on the Florida swing since 1980; Ernie Els (2010), Tiger Woods (2001, 2013), Steve Elkington (1997), Tom Kite (1989) and Ray Floyd (1981).
— Since moving to Bay Hill in 1979, 24 54-hole leaders have converted for victory, including the last four champions. So far this season, nine of 10 have taken a third-round lead into the winner’s circle.
— Past Arnold Palmer Invitational champions in the field who made the cut: Tiger Woods (1st), Chad Campbell (T50) and Vijay Singh (T57)
— The Arnold Palmer Invitational has produced just four international-born players (5 total wins): South African Ernie Els (1998 and 2010), Australian Rod Pampling (2006), Vijay Singh of Fiji (2007) and Scotland’s Martin Laird (2011).
— Since the start of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 1966, only Fred Couples (1992) and Tiger Woods (2001 and 2002) have won the Masters and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in the same year.