World's No. 1 commits to next week's PGA TOUR event
Tiger Woods has twice won a PGA TOUR event four times in a row, a feat that had only been done twice previously in American golf and three times in the game's history. But before he won his fourth straight Buick Invitational in January, Woods first pulled off the feat at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard with his masterly run from 2000 through 2003.
The No. 1 player in the world made his commitment today to return to the Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Florida, for the 30th edition of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, scheduled for March 10-16. When Woods arrives, he will have yet another streak on the line. Dating back to the 2007 BMW Championship, Woods has won his last four PGA TOUR starts and his last five overall, including a win at the Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour.
Of course, Woods is no stranger to stringing together TOUR titles; just last year Woods saw his seven-tournament winning streak end at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. He also won six in a row straddling the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
There also was the streak of four major championships in a row he captured in 2000-01.
"I love winning and I hate losing," Woods said after his most recent conquest, the Accenture Match Play, where he defeated Stewart Cink by a record 8 and 7 decision.
The reigning PGA champion and winner of last year's inaugural FedExCup title, Woods has made the Arnold Palmer Invitational one of his regular stops, and will be making his 12th straight appearance at Bay Hill, dating back to his first full season as a professional in 1997. When he arrives, he'll have a few mischievous words for the host. With his latest World Golf Championships victory, which is his 14th in the WGC series and which gives him all three trophies at the same time, Woods surpassed Palmer for fourth place on the PGA TOUR's all-time victory list with his 63rd title.
"When I see him I will give him an earful, and I'm sure he'll probably do the same," said Woods, who lives in nearby Isleworth. "I'm sure he'll give me grief. He always does.
"I think anytime you're associated with Arnold and what he's done with the game of golf, it's always a positive thing," Woods added. "He's been the ambassador of golf since the 1950s. It's hard to believe it's been over 50 years of him just being the flagship of golf on a global scale, not just here in the United States. He's played all around the world and he's carried golf. He's what brought golf into the mainstream on TV."
Said Palmer: "I'll be happy to see Tiger here and I'll be happy if he wins here and it's whatever the number is for him. It will be a good thing just to see him playing here and playing well, regardless of whatever the outcome is. He's been a great supporter of this tournament and a great competitor here."
A bit of grief is something Woods has been dishing out to his fellow competitors for more than a decade in building up a resume that includes not only his 63 TOUR wins, but also 13 professional major titles.
Since last year's British Open, when he tied for 12th, Woods has won six of his last seven TOUR starts, and he was second in the other tournament. He has tasted victory in nine of his last 10 competitions including the Target World Challenge and America's success in the Presidents Cup. Woods now has won a PGA Tour event in 13 straight seasons, four shy of the record shared by Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
"If you would have asked me would I have attained what I have right now when I first turned pro at 20 years old, no," said Woods, whose Bay Hill success dates back to 1991 when he won the first of three U.S. Junior Amateur titles. "I could never have foreseen my victory total being this high, my game improvement being as much as it has been, my knowledge of the game. I would never have foreseen that.
"And my career is not done yet. Hopefully, my good years are still ahead of me."
The Arnold Palmer Invitational represents one of six tournaments that Woods has won at least four times in his career. The others: BMW Championship, Buick Invitational, Masters, WGC-Bridgestone Championship and WGC-American Express Championship. He has consistently shown the ability to rise to the occasion against the world's best competition, something he will no doubt have to do again at Bay Hill, which consistently draws one of the strongest fields in all of golf.
"Bay Hill is almost like playing in his backyard, in a couple of ways, you might say," Palmer noted. "I mean, it practically is his backyard. I expect him to play quite well, and I expect that he will have a lot of good competition here. If he wins, he will have earned it, I can assure you of that."
For tickets to the 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard or for more information, log on to the tournament web site, www.arnoldpalmerinvitational.com or call the Bay Hill Club ticket office at 407-876-7774 or toll free at 1-866-764-4843. Tournament proceeds benefit the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies.