Published: Thu, March 15, 2018
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Tiger Woods makes notable return to Bay Hill

Tiger Woods makes notable return to Bay Hill

Before his fifth event of 2018, Woods returns to Bay Hill as a record eight-time victor of the 52-year-old tournament.

We need to rewind a few weeks to start to answer that question because, and let's be quite frank here, Woods wasn't even on the radar in terms of being a potential victor in the season's first major at the end of January, whereas McIlroy looked a sound bet for Augusta National.

Day, the 2016 victor at Florida's famed Bay Hill course, won his first US Tour event of the year at Torrey Pines before finishing tied second in his next start at the Pebble Beach Pro Am.

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods feature in a star-studded line-up at the Arnold Palmer Championship this week, with extended coverage from Florida live on Sky Sports. That he is starting as a clear favourite this week is actually quite astonishing, though not, in fairness to the bookmakers, totally without justification.

The four-time Masters champion has seen his odds of winning another green jacket shorten after a fine showing at the Valspar Championship, where he finished one stroke shy of victor Paul Casey.

He put up a brilliant fight to finish joint-second in the Valspar Championship last week at -9, and missed a putt at the last hole to take it to a play-off with Paul Casey.

"Just keep getting better".

"Just keep making incremental improvements and I think I've done that". I still got to go through the process of getting myself in position.

He's proven himself to be physically fit to handle the grind.

"Each and every week I've learned from what I've done and more importantly, I'm learning my body". I'm learning how I can swing it and not swing it. these are all things that are new.

"Just because I won here eight times doesn't mean I'm going to win this week", Woods said Tuesday, just three days after tying for second at the Valspar Championship. "I honestly didn't know this time previous year, I didn't know if I'd ever play golf again".

"But I thoroughly enjoyed being around him, being with him and we had so many great times. I didn't ever even think about playing out here".

"Sometimes I don't play it well, but I know how to play it".

Woods may be taking one step at a time, but he can not help but get psyched up about a return to the field at Augusta.

"I finally have got to a point where my back is good enough, where I can let my hands tell me what to do. I think it's clear that people are really interested to see how the Phils [Mickelson], how the Tigers, how they are going to perform against these great young players".

And then there's Rose, with five finishes inside the top 15 at Bay Hill since 2011.

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