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Tiger Drives for Five at Bay Hill

04 Bay Hill InvitationalQuiet on the set, please! Tiger Woods wins Bay Hill, Take 5. Lights, camera, action!
Its not yet scripted, but Woods will be working on the fifth installment of this blockbuster sequel this week in his adoptive hometown of Orlando, Fla.
And even if the ending is getting a little predictable, the path to the dnouement has varied from one Bay Hill victory to another.
In his first triumph, Woods hit it pretty good and beat Davis Love III by four. The following year, he slopped it all over the place and made everything and won by one over Phil Mickelson. In 2002, he plodded my way along and just played real smart and won wire-to-wire.
Last years victory, however, was both dramatic and decisive.
It also had one great plot twist: A prominent protagonist, unmatched and without peer, standing firmly on the mountaintop, literally brought to his knees, poisoned by the one closest to him ' his beautiful, blonde girlfriend.
Woods concluded the third round with a five-stroke lead ' the equivalent of death and taxes in terms of a guaranteed victory. He then went home to have a nice, quiet evening alone with his girlfriend, Elin Nordegren. She would cook, a pasta dinner.
They should have ordered in.
About an hour after finishing his meal, Woods became sick, a victim of food poisoning.
Ironically, Nordegren collapsed a day earlier at the course due to food poisoning and was taken to a local hospital.
Woods avoided a trip to the hospital only because he worried about them not allowing him to check out in order to make his tee time.
And so he vomited 20 to 30 times that night. He then played the final round through an abysmal bout of abdominal cramps and dry heaves ' in a driving rain, nonetheless.
He shot 68 and won by 11.
So how can he possibly follow up that performance? How can he write a script more compelling that its predecessors?
Or maybe that was the prologue, the climactic conclusion to the epic series.
This is the 39th playing of the Bay Hill Invitational, and Woods is the only player other than Loren Roberts (1994-95) to win two years in a row, let alone four.
He became the first player in 73 years to win the same PGA Tour event four consecutive times. No one has ever accomplished that feat five times.
If Woods is to become the first to do so, he will have to defeat a superb international field of 120 others.
The 7,239-yard course is a bombers venue ' as evidenced in the recent champions: Woods (2000-03), Tim Herron (1999), Els (1998) and Phil Mickelson (1997).
But its the greens that have been the primary concern over the last three years.
In late 2001, the greens were resodded, altering the feel and firmness of the surface, and creating more undulation. Short-iron approach shots werent sticking, and balls off a flatter-faced club were skipping like a stone on a pond.
The greens were more mature during last years tournament, but were still a concern ' so much so that players like Roberts and Nick Price ' both shorter hitters ' skipped the event.
There have already been some rumblings about the firmness of the greens, but it doesnt reflect in the field caliber.
Europeans Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke, Niclas Fasth, Sergio Garcia, Bernhard Langer, Fredrik Jacobsen, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Nick Faldo and Jose Maria Olazabal are in attendance, gearing up for a run at the Masters.
South Africans Retief Goosen and Ernie Els, the 1998 champion, and Carl Pettersson are on hand, as are Australians Stuart Appleby, Aaron Baddeley, Adam Scott, and reigning U.S. Amateur champion Nick Flanagan.
Fijian Vijay Singh is back after taking off the last two events.
And, of course, there is a strong American contingency, led by Woods, Love, Charles Howell III, Fred Couples, John Daly, Ben Curtis and Chad Campbell.
Daly had to skip last weeks Honda Classic due to injuring his hand in a car door.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Bay Hill Invitational