Tiger Woods ended his two and a half year drought on the PGA Tour when he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five strokes on Sunday, sending a warning signal to his rivals ahead of next month's Masters.
The former world number one shot a final round 70 to finish at 13-under-par at the Bay Hill course where had won six times before. The American claimed his 72nd PGA Tour title and his first since the BMW Championship in Sept. 2009.
"It does feel good. It feels really good. It has been a lot of hard work," Woods said. "Iam so thankful for a lot of people helping me along the way, they know who they are."
Graeme McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion, finished second, five shots behind Woods, after starting the final round a shot in arrears.
The win was the first for Woods since the very public breakdown of his marriage after sordid details of his affairs were revealed.
It was also the first victory for Woods since the rebuilding of his swing by coach Sean Foley and comes just two weeks after he limped out of a PGA event at Doral, raising doubts about his fitness for the Masters.
McDowell was never able to mount a serious challenge to Woods after he made a double bogey on the first hole, going from one greenside bunker to another and closed with a 74.
Fast greens and high winds made for some challenging conditions but Woods limited himself to two bogeys and made some key saves, including a 13-foot putt for par on the 15th.
Fans followed Woods down to the 18th green, cheering wildly and after he made par on the final hole, the old chant of "Tiger, Tiger" boomed out from the gallery. "It was incredible to have that type of support here," said Woods.
275 Tiger Woods 69 65 71 70
280 Graeme McDowell (Britain) 72 63 71 74
282 Ian Poulter (Britain) 71 69 68 74