RESURGENT Tiger Woods insists he does not need to win more Majors to answer those who still doubt him after reclaiming golf’s world No1 spot yesterday for the first time since October 2010.
The 14-time Major winner achieved the most significant milestone yet in his comeback from career ruin by claiming the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill for a record equalling eighth time.
His two-stroke victory over England’s Justin Rose, following a final-round 70 that left him on 13 under par, lifted him above Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy in the world rankings.
It also saw his odds shorten to win a first Major since 2008 at the Masters next month, where he is set to tee off as favourite, although the 37-year-old does not feel he has anything to prove to critics.
“That’s up to them. I’m very pleased with the way I’m playing,” said Woods, who added of his return to No1: “It’s just a by-product of hard work, patience and getting back to winning golf tournaments.”
A 99th professional win and a 77th on the PGA Tour continued his extraordinary success at the tournament and equalled Sam Snead’s 48-year-old record for eight triumphs at a single event. “I play well here – that’s as simple as it gets,” he said.
Well-documented personal problems in late 2009 caused Woods to take time away from golf, precipitating the end of his 281-week residence at the top of the rankings little under a year later.
Having dropped out of the world’s top 50, he rediscovered the winning habit in December 2011 and won twice more last year.
Yesterday’s victory was Woods’s third already in 2013 from just five events. He started the year by winning the Farmers Insurance Open and, after a first-round exit at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship and a disappointing tie for 37th at the Honda Classic, claimed the WGC Cadillac Championship earlier this month.
- Oct 2010: Loses world No1 ranking for first time since June 2005
- Jul 2011: Fires caddy Steve Williams and falls to world No58 in August
- Dec 2011: Wins his first title since Australian Masters in November 2009 at Chevron World Challenge
- Jul 2012: Surpasses Jack Nicklaus’s record of 73 PGA Tour titles with victory at AT&T National
- Mar 2013: Returns to world No1 by winning Arnold Palmer Invitational