Originally written on The Victory Formation  |  Last updated 11/17/14

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 09: Tiger Woods lines up his putt on the second green during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 9, 2010 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

September 13, 2009.  Thirty months.  Nine Hundred and Twenty-Five days.  That’s how long it has been since Tiger Woods’ name was alone atop a leaderboard at the end of an official PGA Tournament. Today, after holding off an early charge by former US Open champion Graeme McDowell, Tiger added another trophy to his collection with a five-shot victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, posting a 13-under score of 275 for the tournament.

Back in 2009, Tiger owned the PGA’s BMW Championship at Cog Hill Country Club from start to finish. At no point in the entire tournament was he ever over par.  His third round was masterful, as he carded a 62. In the end, he posted an eight-shot victory over Jim Furyk and someone named Marc Leishman, finishing at (-19) and winning a $1.35M first prize. At that time, there was no reason to think that it would be this long before the famous Tiger fist pump would be seen on an eighteenth green.  There were no rumors or innuendo about Tiger’s personal life.  He was living the American Dream, and was the poster boy for what most fans wanted from American athletes – wholesome, clean cut, and ridiculously good at what they do.

We’ve all heard the story of his downward spiral a hundred times by now.  It’s been discussed, dissected, and retold by nearly every sportscaster, blogger, and late night comedian.  It’s not what matters anymore.  What matters today is that Tiger is back atop the golfing world.  The PGA needs him to stay there for as long as possible.

The tournament got interesting over the final six holes, as Tiger seemed to take his foot off the throttle and take the safe approach by playing for pars with his four-shot lead.  In doing so, Tiger missed a handful of fairways, and left himself with some very, very long two-putt pars.  But in the end, the strategy worked, as McDowell was unable to capitalize on Tiger’s less aggressive approach to the final third of the round, and Woods continued to save pars and minimize the damage of missed opportunities to extend the lead.

With The Masters Tournament just around the corner, Tiger is back to his old form.  He is rounding his game into shape at the perfect time, and is the current favorite to win yet another green jacket (4/1, just ahead of Rory McIlroy at 5/1).  And if he plays four rounds at Augusta the way he played the last four days at Bay Hill, the rest of the field doesn’t stand a chance.

Welcome back Tiger.  We missed you.


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