Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bay Hill magic puts Tiger back at No. 1

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Tiger Woods is back to No. 1 in the world with a game that looks as good as ever.

Woods walked off the 18th green Monday waving his putter over his head -- his magic wand this week at Bay Hill -- to acknowledge the fans who have seen this act before. He won the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the eighth time to tie a PGA Tour record that had not been touched in 48 years.

This win had extra significance. It returned Woods to the top of the world ranking for the first time since the final week of October 2010, the longest spell of his career.

"It's a byproduct of hard work, patience and getting back to winning golf tournaments," he said.

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.

"Number 1 !!!!!!!!!!!!!" Vonn tweeted moments after his win.

Like so many other victories, this one was never really close.

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 while Woods made his way up the 18th fairway. "I had the opportunity to win a tournament five times, and I knew how difficult that was."

Rory McIlroy had been No. 1 since he won the PGA Championship last August. He can reclaim the No. 1 ranking by winning the Houston Open this week. Woods heads home to south Florida for two weeks before the Masters.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 26, 2013 D4

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