Final Masters tune-up for Tiger

2012-03-06 09:07
Tiger Woods (AP)
Florida - Tiger Woods, a 14-time major winner chasing the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, will play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in his traditional final tune-up for next month's Masters.

Woods announced on his website on Monday that he has committed to the PGA Tour event at Bay Hill on March 22-25. Woods will seek his seventh victory at Bay Hill, having won PGA events there in 2000-2003, 2008 and 2009.

Woods typically takes the week off before the Masters and is expected to skip the Houston Open once again in order to prepare for the year's first major championship, to be staged from April 5-8 at Augusta National Golf Club.

World No 16 Woods has not won a tour-level title since his infamous sex scandal, although he did capture last December's World Challenge, a charity event for his foundation featuring top talent.

But Woods has started the season well, sharing third at Abu Dhabi in January and 15th in his US season debut at Pebble Beach before finishing level for 17th at the World Golf Championships Match Play Championship in Arizona.

On Sunday, Woods fired a sizzling final-round 62 - the lowest final-round score of his PGA career - and shared second at the Honda Classic behind Rory McIlroy, whose victory boosted him to world No 1 status for the first time.

"From what I saw of Tiger playing with him in that final round on Sunday, it looked like the old Tiger," said Ernie Els. "He never missed a shot or made a bad swing all day."

Woods sent McIlroy, a 22-year-old Northern Ireland prodigy, a congratulatory note on his claiming the top spot.

"Congrats to @mcilroyrory on getting to no 1," Woods posted on his Twitter account, adding, "Thanks to PB fans for all the love this week."

After his 62, Woods said the round was a culmination of intense work, particularly on his putting, a former trademark which had been lacklustre in his comeback from injury and scandal.

"It was just building," Woods said. "I was putting the pieces each and every day. I wasn't that far off."

Woods will play for the third week in a row starting this Thursday at the WGC event at Doral, where he won PGA titles in 2004, 2005 and 2007. Woods has also won this WGC event five times when it was played on other courses.

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