Tiger Woods Builds 2012 Masters Momentum with Win at Bay Hill

David KindervaterCorrespondent IMarch 25, 2012

Tiger Woods
Tiger WoodsSam Greenwood/Getty Images

Two-and-a-half years is a long time for one of the best golfers in the history of the game to go winless. But with an impressive five-shot victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this afternoon, Tiger Woods is back on top of the golfing world.

Remarkably, it was the seventh time Tiger claimed this event at Bay Hill. And perhaps even more remarkably, it was his first official PGA Tour victory since he won the BMW Championship in September of 2009.

"It feels really good. It's been a lot of hard work," Tiger said moments after he walked off No. 18 green with a four-day total of 275 (rounds of 69-65-71-70).

The win was the largest margin of victory on the PGA Tour since Rory McIlroy won last year's US Open by eight shots and it gives Tiger a ton of momentum heading into the year's first major, the Masters Tournament, next week.

Tiger has always focused on preparing his game to peak at just the right time—around the four majors. But with his golf swing and life under construction the past two years, he hasn't had that luxury.

After watching his progress over the past six months, however, there is no question Tiger has himself in top form heading to Augusta.

In fact, anything less than a victory at Bay Hill this week would've still left some doubt whether Tiger was truly "back"—if he still has what it takes to win tournaments on the PGA Tour.

Just two weeks ago today, Tiger withdrew from competition during the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, hobbling off the golf course in the middle of his round with a strained Achilles and creating concern whether he would even be able to compete in the Masters.

It looked like yet another setback in his seemingly endless comeback quest.

But Tiger answered any questions quickly by returning to practice a few days later. He then completed eight straight days of golf—one of those days a practice round at Augusta and six of those days in competition—culminating with the aforementioned 72nd victory of his incredible career.

Tiger's latest win is good for golf. And it's certainly good for the Masters, setting the stage for Tiger to go for his fifth green jacket and 15th major championship.