Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell both shot 71 in the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and will face off in the final round. Both are looking to transition back into the spotlight and the winner's circle. GolfChannel.com senior writers Jason Sobel and Rex Hoggard debate who has the best shot at winning.
By JASON SOBEL
For more than two years, I’ve been inundated by the familiar question, “When is Tiger Woods going to win again?” Each time, I’ll spew some observations about his recent play, produce a little statistical analysis and provide my unequivocal opinion.
“I have no idea.”
With Woods holding a one-stroke advantage with 18 holes to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a tournament he’s won six times previously, my answer remains the same. I still have no idea when he will win – and there’s a good chance that with a few holes left in Sunday’s final round, I’ll continue to feel the same way.
That said, when in doubt – and I’m often in doubt when it comes to picking winners – take the guy who already owns an advantage on the field.
Though that method hasn’t produced too many profitable bets this season, there haven’t been too many 54-hole leaders who own 71 career PGA Tour victories and are considered the greatest closers of this generation.
Woods has proven winners in Graeme McDowell, Ernie Els and Ian Poulter lurking just behind him, so the old proposition of him undoubtedly closing out a Saturday night lead is hardly a done deal.
I still don’t know when he’s going to win. But I like his chances better than anyone else going into the final round at Bay Hill.
By REX HOGGARD
ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiger Woods will win the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his first official Tour tilt since 2009, but it’s not because he’s owned Arnie’s place since 2000 or his history with 54-hole leads.
He’s going to win because he’s ready. That 48-for-52 record with at least a share of the third-round lead and six Bay Hill crowns only serve to make the pick statistically sound.
Even when Woods “flinched” on his tee shot at the 15th hole on Saturday and sent his golf ball sailing out of bounds and the Arnold Palmer Invitational into a suspense-filled Sunday, he remained, by all accounts, calm.
“The only bad shot I hit was there at (No.) 14,” Woods said. “Fifteen was just one of those fluke things and if I take that away, I make par on a hole and I’m at 13 under.”
For the week Woods has controlled the key elements of his game, from greens in regulation (T-4), putts gained (10th), driving distance (second) and, more importantly, his emotions.
The last time Woods went into a final round paired with Graeme McDowell he blew a four-stroke lead and lost a playoff to the Ulsterman. This time, however, is different, a different player and a different attitude.