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Page last updated at 12:35 GMT, Monday, 6 April 2009 13:35 UK

Masters 2009 - Return of the King

Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in only his third event back from knee surgery

Tiger Woods was forced to sit at home and watch as Padraig Harrington took over his crown as the leading man in majors in the second half of 2008.

Woods, struggling with a serious knee injury, grimaced his way to a sensational victory in the US Open last June after an 18-hole play-off with Rocco Mediate.

The world number one went under the knife immediately afterwards and was out of the game for eight months.

TV viewing figures tumbled in Woods's absence and the economic crisis contributed to tough times in golf.

But the world's best known athlete was welcomed back to the game with a huge sigh of relief at the WGC Match Play in Tucson in February.

"We need him back and we're all excited to have him back," said Woods's biggest rival Phil Mickelson at the time.

"It's evident the game needs him. The economy has been struggling, the sponsors have been struggling and to have him back is so critical for the sport."

Woods was understandably rusty in Arizona and lost in the second round. But just two tournaments later he underlined his box-office appeal and magnetic attraction by overhauling a five-shot deficit to win the prestigious Arnold Palmer Invitational.

TV ratings in the US for the Bay Hill event were the highest for any golf tournament since last year's US Open and topped the two majors that Woods missed last summer.

Golf, it seems, is back on track, and judging by his recent win, so is the 14-time major champion.

Despite fears Woods might not return as the player he was, the 33-year-old is once again the hot favourite to win at Augusta as he continues his quest to beat Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major titles.

see also
Immelman crowned Masters champion
13 Apr 08 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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