Woods enters this weeks event in his surrogate hometown of Orlando, Fla., as the two-time defending champion. And, like last year, he enters the event winless on the PGA Tour.
Tiger on his 2001 Bay Hill win
Slump. That word hung over Tiger like a singular cloud in the Sunshine State. Questions rained upon him as to why the worlds No. 1 player hadnt won in eight consecutive starts ' dating back to the 2000 season.
He silenced critics with a one-shot victory over Phil Mickelson. It proved to be the first of three straight titles, culminating with a fourth consecutive major championship victory at the Masters Tournament.
Now, Woods steps to the Bay Hill Club and Lodge winless since the WGC-NEC Invitational in August. For the record, thats eight starts without a win.
Woods can only hope that the similarities between last year and this one continue.
Leading Sergio Garcia by a stroke entering the final round in 2001, Tiger found his primary rival ahead of him in Mickelson. The lefthander shot a 6-under-par 66 to take the lead, saving par on the 72nd hole with a near hole-out from 60 yards.
One stroke back, with three holes to play, Woods hooked his drive four feet from the out-of-bounds fence on the par-5 16th. Using a 7-iron, he easily cleared the pond guarding the severely tiered green, placing his ball onto the back shelf. He two-putted from there to regain a share of the lead.
Following a par on the par-3 17th, Woods again pulled his drive badly on the par-4 18th. It appeared to be heading out of bounds until it hit a spectator in the neck and dropped next to the cart path. A woman picked up the ball and immediately dropped it. Woods got a free drop, anyway, because his feet were on the cart path.
On trampled grass, 195 yards from the green, Tiger nuked a 5-iron through the stiff breeze, over the water, 15 feet from the hole.
Then, with 1997 winner Mickelson waiting in the wings, he made the winning putt to finish at 15-under 273.
It was ugly,' Woods said. It was not a pretty round of golf, but I got the ball in the hole. I was able to get some wonderful breaks down the stretch.
Those were the kinds of breaks given to him throughout the 2000 season, but ones missing in '01 until Bay Hill.
Tiger went on to win five times last season, earning nearly $5.7 million to go along with his third straight Player of the Year award.
While Woods will headline this years field, hes not the lone star in the state.
Ernie Els enters the tournament as the hottest player on the planet, having won the Genuity Championship two weeks ago, as well as last week's Dubai Desert Classic. He's also the 1998 Bay Hill champion.
Other participants include David Duval, Garcia, Retief Goosen, Davis Love III, Buick Invitational champion Jose Maria Olazabal, Match Play victor Kevin Sutherland and Vijay Singh.
The purse is $4 million, with $720,000 going to the winner.
Full field and tee times for the Bay Hill Invitational