Tiger Woods at the 2012 Bay Hill Invitational
Some professional golfers are lucky to win seven tournaments in their entire time on the PGA Tour. Retief Goosen, Sandy Lyle and Padraig Harrington, all multiple-major champions, have won seven or less tournaments in their careers.
Tiger Woods has won seven times at Arnold Palmer's tournament. This week, Tiger will try to make it eight wins at Arnie's place. Here are Tiger's five best wins of all time at Bay Hill.
These wins have been evaluated for how much drama there was during the win, Tiger's overall performance and the significance of the win.
Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer
A simply dominating performance left Tiger with his fourth straight win at Arnold’s tournament.
Tiger shot rounds of 70-65-66-68 for a 269 (-19) total. He held a five-stroke lead heading into Sunday’s final-round play, but before the tournament’s end, Tiger ended up doubling that—winning by 11 strokes.
After reading the stats above, it is easy to see why this tournament was selected for this list. Woods' brilliance was simply too much for anyone to match in 2003. He led for the final three rounds and never looked back.
It was a final exclamation mark on an almost inconceivably dominant two-and-a-half years.
Tiger Woods came into the 2012 season fresh off a victory at the 2011 Chevron World Challenge. That was his first win since the scandals of 2009. He had been close prior, but was never able to close the deal.
Still, some of his critics argued that the World Challenge was not an official win. After all, Tiger is the host of the championship.
But Woods silenced all of the those naysayers with rounds of 69-65-71-70. It was good enough for a five-stroke victory over Graeme McDowell. It would be the launching point for five wins in the next 12 months for Tiger.
It was the first time he had won an official event since 2009.
This week, Woods will have the chance to take back the No. 1 position in the world one year after his first victory since the scandal tore down his reputation.
Tiger celebrating on the 18th green
This win, Tiger’s fifth at the event, makes the countdown for the levels of epic it reached. Tiger found himself in duel with Bart Bryant. Bryant posted a final-round 67 and they were all square with Tiger heading into the last hole.
Bryant charged up the leaderboard with his strong final round to challenge then-world No. 1. Woods responded to that challenge by playing the demanding 18th hole perfectly. After two beautifully executed shots, Tiger set himself up for the possible win with a 25-foot birdie putt.
Woods, as he always does when he has an important putt on the last hole of the tournament, took his time, trying to find a line he wanted. He stalked the birdie putt by looking at all possible angles of the green. Once he was ready, he set up and stroked the putt.
You can guess what happened next.
The putt tracked towards the hole with perfect speed and line. Woods crept away from the putt prepping his celebration. As the ball tumbled over the edge and into the hole, Woods threw down his hat on the fringe with force in addition to a massive fist pump as he faced the crowd encouraging them to yell as loud as he did.
Tiger Woods watches the winning putt in 2009
This win for Tiger was very similar to the previous year. It ranks ahead of Woods’ victory in 2008, however, due to the circumstances Tiger was facing coming into the 2009 season.
After winning the U.S. Open in 2008 on a broken leg, Woods had to sit the rest of the season out due to injury. Prior to Bay Hill, Tiger had not claimed another victory.
The 2009 Bay Hill Invitational saw cold weather and thus resulted lower scores than usual. With rounds of 68-69-70, Tiger trailed Sean O’Hair heading into the final round, but a 67 vaulted him to his first title since the previous June.
Like 2008, Woods came to the last green with a chance to claim the title. He stalked the putt and then, just like the previous year, proceeded to roll the putt in for the title. There was no hat throw this time, just a leg kick and another furious fist pump.
Tiger Woods was back from injury ready to take any and all challengers once again.
Tiger beats Phil Mickelson on the 18th hole in 2001
This victory takes the No. 1 spot for the simple fact that it was a classic Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson showdown which pushed Tiger to his limit and ultimately produced a classic moment.
Mickelson fired a final-round 66 at Bay Hill to challenge Woods. Tiger had been struggling to find the fairways, and as a result, Woods and Mickelson had gone back and forth all day. But Tiger was able to give himself a look at birdie on the 18th green.
It was a difficult putt, sliding hard from left to right. A putt that moves in that direction is traditionally harder for right handed players.
Tiger stroked it and made it. The celebration is a violent series of jabs before one final exclamation mark punch.
With that putt and a win over Mickelson, Woods left little doubt in anyone's mind as to who was the best player in the world.