Thursday 21 September 2017

Woods: Turning weaknesses into strengths got me back to top

Tiger Woods reacts after just missing a long putt on the 18th green as he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational PGA golf tournament in Orlando
Tiger Woods reacts after just missing a long putt on the 18th green as he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational PGA golf tournament in Orlando

Karl MacGinty

TIGER WOODS was in bullish mood after regaining the world No 1 ranking for the first time since October 2010 with victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Now he is back at the top of the rankings, there will be increased expectation on Woods to add to his haul of 14 Majors when the Masters gets under way in a little over two weeks' time, and the 37-year-old talked up his chances.

"I've turned some of the weaknesses that I had last year into strengths. I'm really excited about the rest of this year," he said.

"At the very beginning of the year I was excited because of how the end of last year turned. My short game came around, I thought my swing was getting better, my short irons got better, lo and behold, I won a few tournaments this year."

When asked if he would have to win at one of the four big tournaments to appease the doubters, Woods was more typically forthright.

"It's up to them. It's their opinion, I'm very pleased with the way I'm playing," he added.

battle

It was, nevertheless, a day to savour for Woods, who had dipped outside the world's top 50 at one point as a result of personal problems, injury and a loss of form.

The American admitted his battle to re-establish himself amongst the world's elite had been a tough journey.

"It was a by-product of hard work, patience and getting back to playing golf tournaments," he added.

"I've won some golf tournaments in the last couple of years and consequently I've moved up."

It was also a day to remember for Justin Rose, who will move up to No 3 in the world for the first time following his second-place finish at Bay Hill. The 32-year-old was the halfway leader, but a third-round 72 stunted his challenge and he was never in a position to push Woods yesterday after two bogeys in his first three holes.

However, he then picked up four birdies to finish with 70 – 11-under-par overall – to end his week on a high note.

It was Woods' playing partner Rickie Fowler who came closest to setting up a thrilling climax as some sensational putting helped him move to within two strokes with three holes remaining.

His challenge evaporated after a disastrous triple-bogey eight at the 16th and an ultimately disappointing round of 73 meant he had to settle for a share of third place alongside Keegan Bradley, Mark Wilson and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

Irish Independent

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