TIGER WOODS RETURNS TO ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY MASTERCARD FOR HIS FIRST START SINCE 2013
ORLANDO, Fla. (March 1, 2018) – Coming off his best PGA TOUR finish in nearly three years, Tiger Woods continues his comeback from a career-threatening back injury by committing to next month's Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, scheduled for March 12-18.
Woods, 42, has won the prestigious invitational tournament a record eight times — tying Sam Snead for the most wins in a single TOUR event — but has not competed in the tournament since 2013, when he shot 13-under 275 on the Championship Course for a two-stroke victory over Justin Rose. Injuries, including back problems that required he undergo four surgeries, prevented him from returning, so his entry for this year is, in essence, his first chance to defend that title from five years ago.
Ranked 389th in the Official World Golf Ranking, Woods finished 12th two days ago at the Honda Classic, his best showing since he tied for 10th at the 2015 Wyndham Championship. The Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard will be his fourth start on the PGA TOUR this year after he played in just one TOUR event the previous two years combined. He has two top-25 finishes and one missed cut in 2018.
Woods first competed in Palmer's tournament in 1994 as an amateur and missed the cut, but he won the first of his eight titles in 2000, and since then has dominated on the Championship Course. Woods said in 2013, as he prepared to defend his 2012 crown, that Bay Hill Club, designed by Palmer, just seemed to fit his eye.
"I have always enjoyed Bay Hill. The golf is right in front of you," he said. "You have to think your way around the course and be able to hit a variety of shots. You know what shots are required, and then you have to execute."
Woods' return coincides with the 40th playing of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club. Golf’s King brought the former Florida Citrus Open to his Bay Hill Club in 1979. It features a field of 120 of the world's best players and offers a purse of $8.9 million, one of the richest on the PGA TOUR.
Woods will compete against eight other past champions, as well as Orlando resident Justin Rose, the No. 5 player in the Official World Golf Ranking; No. 6 Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, No. 7 Rickie Fowler; No. 8 and 2016 champion Jason Day of Australia; and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, currently ranked No. 10 in the world. The defending champion is Marc Leishman, currently No. 15 in the world.