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Woods fightback seals superb win

FINAL LEADERBOARD:
-5 T Woods (US) -4 S O'Hair (US) -2 Z Johnson (US) -1 J Senden (Aus), N Watney (US), P Perez (US), S Verplank (US)
Selected others: +1 P Harrington (Ire)+5 J Rose (Eng) +7 G McDowell (NI) +15 B Davis (Eng), O Wilson (Eng)


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Title win delights Woods

Tiger Woods overcame a five-shot deficit to beat Sean O'Hair and win his first title since returning from injury at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

After rain delayed the start of the final round, Woods had closed to within a stroke of O'Hair by the seventh hole.

Defending champion Woods moved level with a long putt on the 15th.

And he sank a superb 16ft putt on the last to complete a three-under-par 67, finishing on five under to deny O'Hair and secure his sixth title at Bay Hill.

Ireland's Padraig Harrington fell away over the closing holes at the Bay Hill Golf Club in Orlando with bogeys at the 16th and 18th to end the tournament at one over.

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Woods, playing in his third tournament of the year following his return to action after knee surgery, began the day on two under, five strokes behind second and third-round leader O'Hair.

And Woods signalled his intent with birdies on the second and third, where O'Hair found a bunker and dropped a shot to make his lead just two strokes.

A bogey at the fourth briefly halted Woods' momentum but he got the shot back with a birdie at the seventh, and after O'Hair dropped to five under the world number one was within a shot.

The field was gathering behind the leading pair by now, with John Senden and Pat Perez on two under and Harrington in a group one stroke further back.

A major move looked likely on the 14th when Woods failed to get out of a bunker at the first attempt, but O'Hair missed with a birdie effort and Woods sank a magnificent downhill putt for par to remain one shot behind the leader.

Tiger Woods with golf legend Arnold Palmer, after whom the event is named
Woods won the title last year with a 25ft birdie putt on the last

Woods finally got on level terms when he rolled in another lengthy putt on the 15th, and he moved ahead when O'Hair found the water at the 16th as Woods got up and down after a poor drive.

The drama continued at the par-three 17th when Woods drove straight into a bunker, his ball plugging under the lip, while O'Hair found the heart of the green.

After O'Hair rolled his putt alongside the hole and made par, Woods attacked his effort but went wide and the pair headed to the 18th tied at four under, with playing partner Zach Johnson still in contention at two under.

But not surprisingly it was Woods who attacked the pin on the final hole and he sank a magnificent 16ft putt for an incredible victory, wheeling away and punching the air in delight.

"It feels good," he said afterwards. "It feels really good to be back in contention and feel the rush. It's been a while.

"I hadn't been in the mix since the US Open, so it was neat to feel the heat on the back nine again, and got myself into the hunt and into contention."

Asked about how his rivals cope with such a final-day charge, Woods added: "I'm trying to beat them just how they're trying to beat me. It doesn't change.

"It's just about being there and somehow timing it right, and making putts and pulling off shots at the right time.

"Some guys put themselves in contention more times than others, but still, we're all trying to win tournaments."



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see also
O'Hair stretches lead at Bay Hill
28 Mar 09 |  Golf
Harrington laments missed chances
27 Mar 09 |  Golf
Woods finds his form at Bay Hill
26 Mar 09 |  Golf
Deutsche Bank leaderboard
07 Sep 09 |  Live scores


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