Triumphant Woods back to winning ways

Tiger Woods answered the final question in emphatic style. Chipping away at Sean O’Hair’s five-stroke lead, Woods nailed an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the sixth time, and second year in a row.

In an amazing finish at Bay Hill, Woods bogeyed the 17th to allow O’Hair to tie it at four-under. On the 18th, O’Hair went to the green needing a 38-foot putt, while Tiger required an uphill effort.

O’Hair failed to birdie and Woods, probably recalling a similar situation in last year’s tournament, sent the crowd into frenzy with a precise putt that tells the world that he is back.

After winning the US Open last June, Woods took eight months off to repair knee ligaments and recover from a stress fracture.

The question on golf fans’ lips was whether the world number one would be able to return to the PGA Tour as the same force.

That was answered with an exclamation mark with his final putt, which is a major boost for Woods with the US Masters – the first major of the year – coming up in April. In a radio interview straight after his win, Woods said:

“It just feels good to be in contention again. It’s one of those days, I just stayed patient and kept plugging along. I tried to get the lead down to about two or three at the turn. I just did what I wanted to do on the front nine.”

Woods closed with a three-under-par 67 for a four-round total of 275 and a one-stroke victory. O’Hair finished with a 73 for his 276.

In third place was former Masters winner Zach Johnson, whose 69 on Sunday was good enough for a 278, three behind Woods.

Four players shared fourth place on 279 – Australia’s John Senden, Nick Watney, Pat Perez and Scott Verplank.

There was also plenty of excitement at the end of the European Tour’s Andalucia Open in Spain, where Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen burst free from David Drysdale with three holes to go to win the tournament by three strokes.

The two players were level after the 15th when Kjeldsen found water with his second shot on the long 16th. Still, he managed to nail an 18-footer to stay on equal terms before a birdie on the 226-yard 17th saw him go two up as Dyrsdale faltered.

He could even afford to three-putt for bogey on the last, as Drysdale went into the drink and double-bogeyed.

The Dane’s effort was good enough to boost his world ranking to just outside the top 40 and earned him a place in April’s US Masters at Augusta.

Kjeldsen closed with 72, just one day after his course record of 62 and totalled 14-under-par 274 for his victory.

Drysdale’s 74 on the last day gave him a total of 277, one stroke ahead of Francesco Molinari and Graeme Storm.

Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth was fifth on 279, one shot ahead of the trio of Andrew Coltart, Rhys Davies and Marcel Siem.

On the LPGA, Karrie Webb shot five-under-par 67 in the final round to win the JGolf Phoenix International at the Papago Golf Course.

Webb totalled 14-under 274 to beat Shin Jiyai by two strokes, with Kim In-kyung finishing third on 277.

Tseng Yani and Suzann Pettersen were equal fourth on 278. Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa, last year’s winner, was tied for 15th on 284.

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