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For two days, Tiger Woods emulated the animal he's named after, lurking in the bushes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando.
On Saturday, he pounced.
Woods shot a daily best 6-under 66 in the third round at Bay Hill Club & Lodge on Saturday to surge to the top of the leader board in pursuit of his eighth title at the tournament named for one of the only players comparable to Woods' greatness.
Entering Sunday's final round, Woods is two strokes ahead of fellow Americans Rickie Fowler and John Huh, along with South Africa's Justin Rose, who fell out of the lead after holding it for two days.
Woods hit only one bogey after finishing Friday's second round with three straight. He recorded five birdies and eagled No. 16 a day after bogeying it.
The 24-year-old Fowler shot his second straight 5-under 67 on Saturday to sit two strokes back. Fowler notched six birdies. The 22-year-old Huh was just 1-under on Saturday, and Rose was even par after opening the tournament with a 7-under 65.
Rose came out with guns blazing, dropping to 13-under after four holes as he fired two birdies and an eagle, but it was rough sledding the rest of the way. He was +3 on the back nine, with four bogeys between holes No. 10 and 17.
Five players, four of the Americans, are tied for fifth at 8-under, three strokes behind Woods. In all, 13 players are within six strokes of the top of the leaderboard.
Rain interrupted play
Much like the rest of the field, Mother Nature could only sit and watch as Tiger Woods did what he does best on Monday at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando.
Woods fired a 2-under 70 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational for a record eighth time, finishing 13-under to take his third victory of the season and reclaim the No. 1 spot in the world for the first time in almost three years.
In his most uneven round of the tournament, Woods hit three birdies in the first six holes to effectively put the title out of reach for the rest of the field.
Woods ended up bogeying two of the last four holes, more out of safety than anything else, and finished two strokes ahead of Justin Rose, who also shot a 2-under 70 to finish at 11-under for the weekend.
No other competitor in the field finished double-digit strokes under par. Four players - Americans Mark Wilson, Keegan Bradley and Rickie Fowler, along with Spain's Gonzalo Fdez-Castano, all finished 8-under at 280.
Rose came into the day with the most realistic shot at catching Woods, but bogeyed two of his first three holes to fall four strokes back. He didn't hit another bogey on the day, and notched four birdies overall, but it wasn't enough.
Twenty-two year old American John Huh, who had been in the mix at the top throughout the tournament, bottomed out with an 8-over 80 to plummet to 27th in the field. After recording five bogeys in his first 16 holes, Huh birdied No. 16, then hit back-to-back double bogeys to end a miserable round.
The top card on the tournament's final day was turned in by American Bubba Watson, who fired a 5-under 67 to tie for 14th at 4-under. The swagger was back on Monday. Ditto the swoosh, the red shirt (albeit muted under a black windbreaker) and the raised finger symbolizing his return to No. 1 in the world.Heck, Tiger Woods even has a hot girlfriend again.
The tour's greatest player stamped his return to No. 1 in the world by sewing up his record eighth title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, finishing two strokes ahead of Justin Rose, who led the field for the first two days of play.
The 37-year-old Woods won for the third time in five events this season on the PGA Tour, and will take this week off, as his tradition, before gearing up to pursue his fifth title at the Masters, which begins April 11.
Woods hasn't won a Major Championship since taking the US Open title in 2008. Between 1997-2007, he won 13.
His victory Monday at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida, was his 77th on the PGA Tour. Only Sam Snead (82) has more in PGA history, and took 30 years to reach that figure, while Woods is within five of the mark in a little more than 18 seasons.
To put those figures in perspective, Phil Mickelson ranks second among active players in career titles with 23 - less than one-third Woods' total, and Mickelson has been active on the tour for six years more than Woods.
Woods pocketed $1,116,000 in prize money and 500 FedEx points with the victory on Monday. He totaled just 10 bogeys in 72 holes of play, more than making up for it with 17 birdies and three eagles.
Runner-up Justin Rose saw his chances fade in a 12-hole stretch that began on the 10th in the third round and culminated on No. 3 on Monday. In that stretch, Rose was 5-over, with just one birdie against six bogeys.
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