Tiger Woods is back on top after emerging victorious at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this Sunday. The victory at Bay Hill served as his first PGA Tour win since taking home the Australian Masters trophy nearly two years ago. Woods endured a drought that lasted 923 days, and 26 PGA Tour events in total. While there is still great doubt over his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major wins (he currently has peaked at 14), it provided a huge surge of momentum for Woods as he heads into the Masters Tournament on April 2nd.
Historically, Woods has preceded each of his four wins at the Masters Tournament with a PGA Tour victory. In an interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi, he attempted to describe what the win at Bay Hill meant for both present and future. “It feels good,” said the 36-year-old. “The win means I’m getting better because I’ve been so close [in a number of tournaments], so it was a matter of putting four rounds together and I did this week.”
When asked what his victory means heading in to the Masters, Woods replied “It’s important to have a little boost going into Augusta…A lot of things that I did here this week will translate to the course next week and I’m very excited about that.”
In addition to increasing the resurgent golfer's confidence as he prepares for his next big invitational, the win also gave many fans a boost in excitement for the sport of golf again. One of the most well-known athletes in the world, Woods' success and relevance is paramount for the entire sport. His divorce, which came shortly after he was revealed to have what many described to be a 'clown car' of mistresses, nearly tarnished a seemingly flawless image, and sent Woods on a downward spiral professionally which lasted two and a half years. He endured a rash of knee injuries that also hindered his ability to maintain the level of dominance that everyone had come to know from him. With the mental preparation and acute focus that is required of a successful golfer, Woods' winless streak was certainly understandable, yet many believed he would never bounce back.
When asked whether his personal situations or the injuries were the tougher obstacle to overcome, Woods replied “It was definitely the injuries, because I wasn’t able to practice at all.” Woods is still battling back from an Achilles injury that caused him to miss months of playing time, and almost prevented him from participating in the tournament at Bay Hill. Alas, it proved to be a small challenge and we have seen Woods finally to return to familiar territory, the winners circle.
Steve Rivers contributes to The Source, ESPN Rise and a host of other online publications. Follow him on Twitter: @TheKidSkoob.