It may not be where he wanted to be, but Tiger Woods can once again conquer the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday from Orlando, FL. Woods, who shot 3-under par on Saturday, is a currently five strokes back of Henrik Stenson, who leads at 12-under par. Woods is 7-under for the tournament.
As Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press wrote, there is a history of Woods and comebacks at a golf course he has owned over the years.
“When he was out nearly nine months recovering from reconstructive surgery, his first victory back was at Bay Hill when he made a 15-foot birdie for a one-shot victory over Sean O’Hair,” wrote Ferguson. “After going more than two years without winning on the PGA Tour while trying to patch his personal life back together, Woods finally broke through at Bay Hill with a five-shot victory over Graeme McDowell.”
Woods, the winner of 79 PGA titles in his career, is already the feel-good story of 2018 and there is a chance he could add a victory or two to his trophy case before the end of the golf season. Some believe The Masters is his for the taking.
“Six months after Woods wasn’t sure if he would be able to compete again at a high level, he is the betting favorite at Bay Hill. That stems from his runner-up finish last week at Innisbrook, where he was never more than three shots behind in the final round and had a long birdie putt at the end to force a playoff,” Ferguson added.
After opening rounds of 68 and 72, Tiger Woods posted a 3-under 69 in the third round, thanks to six birdies against three bogeys. He was pleased with his round when he spoke to the media on Saturday.
“I played well, scored well, it was a good day all around,” Woods said. “Can’t complain about anything I did today. I really hit the ball solidly, I controlled it, and I hit a lot of beautiful putts. Some went in, some didn’t.”
Last week at Innisbrook, Woods looked like he could earn his first win since 2013, but ran out of steam on the back nine in Tampa. It’s a different Woods fans are getting to see. He is smiling, he looks more loose and he is enjoying his time on the course. It’s far cry from the stoic, emotion player from a few years ago who won Majors at a record pace.
As Jason Sobel of ESPN.com wrote, Tiger Woods showed he could still play the brand of golf he knows well. On the third hole, he dropped in a sidewinding 38-foot birdie putt to negate the previous hole’s bogey. On the 11th, he hit a laser from 186 yards to inside 10 feet and made the putt. And on the par-5 16th, with his ball just below the fairway bunker lip, he decided against laying up, then flew trees over water to find the green, later two-putting for another birdie.
Can he reach into his bag on Sunday and win yet another Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“I’m just happy to be back playing again, competing, grinding out there and trying to work my way up the board, work my way around the golf course,” Tiger Woods said. “It feels good to be able to finally understand and feel that I can get into a round again. I’m not really thinking as much as I was initially. I’m just playing shots, playing the holes, playing angles. … All these things are becoming more intuitive, which is great, because if you look at the last two days, I’ve missed the golf ball in the perfect position on almost every shot.”