Woods' win sets up potentially epic Masters


ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiger Woods knew it was coming. He told us even though we didn't always believe him.

When he blew the lead earlier this year in Abu Dhabi, many thought he was not close to victory. When he watched Phil Mickelson scorch the field at Pebble Beach to win we weren’t sure Woods was ready. When he was ousted in the second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship because of atrocious putting we weren’t sold.

There was that little glimmer of hope in the final round of the Honda Classic when he shot 62, but that was from way back in the field with seemingly little to lose. The most doubt came just two weeks ago at the WGC-Cadillac Championship when he WD’d during the last round with a sore left Achilles tendon.

He sped off Doral property on that hectic Sunday and many didn’t know if he’d be well enough to play in the Masters. The thought of contending for his fifth green jacket seemed miles away.

Doesn’t seem so crazy now. Woods blitzed the field Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational to win by five shots over Graeme McDowell. Woods was in control of his game most of the round – hitting stingers off tees, approach shots close, etc. – and cruised to his 72nd PGA Tour victory, seventh here at Bay Hill.

“I hit a lot of good ones today,” Woods said. “Pure joy.”

The victory moved Woods to No. 6 in the Official World Golf Ranking and makes him one of the favorites along with Mickelson and Rory McIlroy. That trio, along with No. 1-ranked Luke Donald, have all won Tour events in the past six weeks, setting us up for a potentially epic trip down Magnolia Lane in two weeks.