Confident Woods returns to happy hunting ground at Bay Hill


After Tiger was pipped to his 80th PGA Tour title at last week's Valspar Championship by Paul Casey, all eyes are firmly on the Big Cat to see whether he can go one better at a venue where he's lifted the trophy eight times.

Last week in this space, I wrote that I was tempted to take Tiger in Tampa.

Marc Leishman will look to defend his title at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational, but all eyes will be on Tiger Woods, who will make his first appearance at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida, in five years.

Woods not only feels supremely confident on the track, but cherishes the time spent with Palmer, who traditionally greeted the tournament victor on the last green in the city Woods formerly called home. "I honestly didn't know this time previous year, I didn't know if I'd ever play golf again".

"It was little things like that. sharing jokes with him out there on the green and he and I laughing".

The 42-year-old Woods had a long relationship with seven-times major victor Palmer, who died in September 2016 aged 87.

Written off by critics after one dismal comeback after another and bedridden with constant pain just a year ago, Tiger's latest return is different. "As a whole, I felt very good about what I did this week". Woods has attracted the most bets at the Westgate and co-favorites Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas were the only golfers with lower odds at 8/1. "We sat down, we just started to BS and have a great time together and I'm going to miss those times, for sure".

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"Just because I won here eight times doesn't mean I'm going to win this week automatically, " Woods said.

Woods cannot explain his sudden return to form, but reckons the most fabled course on the planet can bring out the best in him. "Just keep making incremental improvements and I think I've done that", he said.

"Each and every week I've learned from what I've done and more importantly I'm learning my body", he continued. "I'm learning how I can swing it and not swing it".

"He's swinging hard, as good as I've seen him back in the day, and he's swinging with confidence".

"The injuries that he had to overcome were significant and when you are talking about four back surgeries, I think a lot of people would assume that is an obstacle that one can't overcome", added Monahan.

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.

"[It's been] very frustrating, because I love playing Augusta National".