Tiger Woods returned to his dominant form yesterday after carding a final round 70 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at Bay Hill. Woods won by a five stroke margin and looked like the simply unflappable Tiger of old.
Tee to green, last weekend’s performance was one of the best of any golfer in recent memory. Through strong winds, he consistently controlled his shape and trajectory. Tiger was tied for first in GIR by hitting 79.2% of green.
The stat line that really shows his dominance is in par-5 scoring. For the tournament, Tiger was first in the category shooting -12 on all par 5’s. Overall, he finished -13 for the tournament. He putted for eagle a staggering 9 times, and although he was unable to convert, he was left with plenty of tap-in birdies. His play on the par 5s really demonstrates how well he is hitting the ball right now.
His superb ball striking is actually not unexpected though. Even for his standards, he has been hitting the ball well all year and currently ranks 4th on tour in GIR. What finally clicked for Woods was his control off the tee and his putting. Woods hit 64.3% of fairways (T29), but he only had one terrible miss when a women screamed during his downswing after her child fainted. Other than that, his misses were fairly manageable and still gave him a chance for par.
His putting however is what truly separated him from the field, just like in years past. His speed on the greens seemed to be the key. Inside of 10 feet he was lights out, making 92.7% (T5). And from 10+ feet, he left himself easy tap-in time and time again. Earlier in the season, longer lag putts were being left in the 5 foot range. By tightening up his speed on the greens, making par became much easier.
We won’t see Tiger again until The Masters, but with a win finally under his belt, many are looking at him as the early favorite- again.