Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer (Getty Images)
Tiger Woods is back at top of the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time in nearly two and a half years after completing an ultimately comfortable two stroke victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Defending champion Woods celebrated his third PGA Tour title of the season after shooting 70 in a final round that was delayed after a freak storm hit Bay Hill yesterday.
The American’s challenge was boosted by birdies at each of the par fives as he finished on 13 under par overall and two shots clear of England’s Justin Rose.
Woods takes over from Rory McIlroy as World Number One, the Ulsterman one of four European Tour players - together with Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald - to have held the mantle since Woods was last at the summit in October 2010.
Rickie Fowler came closest to setting up a thrilling climax today with three birdies in six holes, but a disastrous triple bogey eight at the 16th ended his charge and he was one of four players who finished in a tie for third on eight under overall.
Fowler’s late woe left Rose in outright second. The 32 year old started his final round with two bogeys in three holes, but worked his way back up the leaderboard with gains at the sixth, eighth, tenth and 16th.
Having previously slipped outside the world’s top 50, Woods acknowledged he has had to work hard to regain his status.
“It was a by-product of hard work, patience and getting back to playing golf tournaments,” he said.
“I’ve won some golf tournaments in the last couple of years and consequently I’ve moved up.”
When he was asked if he would have to add to his haul of 14 Majors in order to convince the doubters, Woods was typically forthright.
“It’s up to them. It’s their opinion, I’m very pleased with the way I’m playing,” he added.