Tiger Woods held off a late run by Justin Rose to defend his title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational Monday after a furious storm postponed play in the middle of Sunday’s rounds. With his eighth win at Bay Hill, Woods has jumped Rory McIlroy for the top spot in the World Golf Rankings, a position he hasn’t held since Oct. 30, 2010, a span of 29 months.
Woods was 1-under through two holes Sunday before play was stopped and had a three-shot lead when play resumed on Monday. Playing partner Rickie Fowler fell apart on the par-5 16th, finishing the hole with a triple-bogey after finding the water twice.
Justin Rose was great in the first two rounds before shooting even-par and giving up the lead to Tiger Woods on day three. Woods never gave it back, and held on to beat Rose by two strokes for his 77th career PGA-Tour victory. Both Rose and Woods shot two-under par in the final round.
The past few weeks couldn’t have gone better for Woods, as he won the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral two weeks ago and announced his relationship with pro-skier Lindsey Vonn a week later. Woods then turned to Bay Hill where he has dominated in the past and came through once again for his third win early in the season.
Woods came into the week just 177 points behind Brandt Snedeker for first-place in the FedEx Cup rankings. Snedeker missed the cut at Bay Hill after back-to-back rounds of 76, giving way to Woods who is now 42-2 when leading entering the final round of a tournament.
Tiger Woods will next play in the Masters which start April 11. Woods hasn’t won a major in five-years and hasn’t won at Augusta since 2005. Those numbers won’t be a factor as Woods is currently playing his best golf since winning six tournaments in 2009.
Woods’ putter has been the key to his success over the past few weeks and if he can find a few more fairways he’s sure to be near the top at Augusta. Woods has 14 career wins at majors, just four behind Jack Nicklaus’ 18, but hasn’t won a major since the U.S. Open in 2008.
Will Tiger Woods roll into Augusta and win his first major in five-years to continue his strong start to the 2013 season?