Tiger Woods is back on top of the golf world. His eighth victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational returns him to No. 1 in the rankings for the first time since late 2010, and gives him plenty of momentum heading into next month's Masters.
Woods survived late rallies by Rickie Fowler, who put two shots in the water on the 16th hole to end his dreams of a comeback, and Justin Rose to pick up his 77th career win on the PGA Tour. It leaves him five behind all-time leader Sam Snead.
It wasn't the best round from the new No. 1, who still battled some issues off the tee and wasn't able to slam the door until the closing holes. In typical workmanlike fashion, however, he was always able to keep a safe distance ahead of his closest pursuers and held onto another final-round lead.
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More than anything else, Woods' latest win should end any discussion about whether or not he's "back." He's won three of the four stroke play events he's contested this season—think about that—and did so without being seriously challenged.
Furthermore, he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational based simply on his strong performance on the greens. His work elsewhere on the course left room for improvement, a scary proposition for everybody else on tour, and he still won by three strokes.
Need another sign that Tiger is all the way back? Fowler was in the middle of the fairway on the 16th hole, in prime position to put some serious pressure on Woods by knocking it close. Instead, he hit it into the water and Tiger found the green from a bunker, and the tournament was for all intents and purposes over.
The heat on Fowler, mostly due to the intimidation factor of Woods, forced him into a brutal hole. It's something that was missing while the 14-time major champion was working his way back to peak performance.
He's certainly there now and back in the No. 1 spot he held for so long during his prime years.
Elsewhere on the leaderboard, the aforementioned Rose used a strong closing round to secure second place. If not for a three-over back nine during his Saturday round, he would have been right there with Woods every step of the way.
Keegan Bradley made a couple different runs toward the top, but was not able to maintain any level of consistency on Monday. He still finished inside the top 10 for the third straight tournament with major season right around the corner.
The biggest mover during the final round was Bubba Watson, last year's Masters champion, who posted a five-under 67. William McGirt also finished strong, checking in with a 4-under closing 18.
In the end, Woods flashed the type of final round everybody expected from him for so long. Consistent and unwavering, waiting for other players to collapse and taking it to another gear when necessary.
Just like the old days when he was No. 1. Now he's back in that coveted position once again.