Tiger Woods held on, despite a last minute bogey at 18, to take the WGC-Cadillac Championship at the Trump Doral Resort in Miami Sunday. Tiger’s performance this week was truly his best since the fourth major overhaul of his swing under Sean Foley began in August of 2010. While Woods needed only 100 putts, his lowest PGA total, his 27 birdies fell just one shy of the most he ever recorded in one event, according to ESPN. Tiger ended at 1 under par 71 for a 2-shot victory over Steve Stricker. Now all eyes are on Woods as we inch closer to Augusta.
Tiger’s victory at Doral marks his 76th PGA Tour win, and 17th career World Golf Championship. It was noted that while there's no PGA Tour statistic to measure confidence, if there was, Woods would be solidly at No. 1 in that category this season.
“I felt that towards the end of last year that I was heading that direction where things were becoming better”, Tiger said. “I feel like my game’s becoming more efficient, and it’s more consistent day-in and day-out”, he added, according to Fox Sports.
With the year's first major only a month away, many wonder if this is the year Tiger could slip on his first green jacket since 2005. It's been eight years since Woods triumphed at Augusta National, almost five years since he won any major.
Tiger’s victory shaved the margin between himself and Rory McIlroy in the Official World Golf Rankings. ESPN shows that Woods was 2.6134 points behind the Rory, but with this win, he trimmed that margin to just over one point.
Given the 23 year-old McIlroy’s early struggles this season, and two Tiger Woods victories for the seasoned 37 year-old, pundits say we could have a new No. 1 in a matter of weeks, not months.
In practice Wednesday, Steve Stricker helped Tiger out with some solicited putting advice. “His attitude and what I saw this week and his belief in himself again looks very similar to the early 2000s or you can pick any year, I guess, when he was playing great”, second place finisher Stricker said.
“He just seems in a better place mentally to me. Seems to be having fun. Seems to have a lot of confidence in himself and his game. And that's fun to see, that he's getting it back again, and we know what type of player he is. And it's fun to see him get that potential and that winning way again”, Stricker added.
Tiger Woods is scheduled to play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill from March 21-24. That’s likely to be his final PGA Tour event before the year's first major tees off on April 11 at Augusta National.
This year a lot of attention will likely be on him in Georgia, and there is of course no guarantee he will win. Golf is fickle, but Tiger is arguably the best prepared to do so than he has been in the past four years.