Oh no, Ernie, you did it again. The Sunday before last, I watched him play those final three holes at Innisbrook’s Copperhead course, and let’s just say, it went from joyful to hopeful to heartbreaking real fast.
The South African golfer headed into the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a shot at redemption and securing an invitation to next week’s Masters. He entered the day tied for third and the OWGR number-crunchers estimated a solo second would do the trick and bump Els from No. 62 to the top 50 in the world rankings, which would earn him a spot in the field.
Who else has a Bay Hill hangover? I do. Combine that with heavy turbulence in the last 30 minutes of a flight from MCO to EWR, along with the crazy cab ride (if you think NYC cabbies are bad, I suggest an experience with one in Newark. Glad I took an extra barf bag with me!/end rant), and you can imagine how I feel. Well, now that I’ve voiced my god-awful complaints because you all asked, I’ll move on to the actual point. Don’t think I can’t hear those massive violins you’re playing softly in the corner.
While Tiger Woods was presented with the trophy for winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational by a commanding five shots and being fitted for his seventh Blue Jacket on the 18th green at Bay Hill, we cornered his veteran and highly-respected caddie, Joe LaCava, in a media scrum next to the scoring trailer.
Wow, I’m still overwhelmed by the chaos, emotions and mind-blowing events of the day. Would you expect anything less, though? Of course not! After all, Tiger Woods won his first PGA Tour event since the sex scandal that led to his rapid fall from grace, which were triggered by his minor car accident in the wee hours the day after Thanksgiving in 2009.
First of all, what the heck is the “Dartboard”? It’s what was formerly known as the “Open Thread” — you know, where we toss out some talking points and you share your thoughts and/or observations on the day. So, Tiger is looking really, really good early in the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He’s in excellent position to win for the seventh time here.
Despite the unfortunate disruption during his backswing on the 15th tee, causing him to pull-hook it out-of-bounds and eventually resulting in a double-bogey, Tiger Woods bounced back with a birdie on No. 16 and closed with two pars to post an even-par 71 at Bay Hill. Going into Sunday’s final round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods, who, as you may have heard, hasn’t won a real event in more than two years, has a one-shot lead over Graeme McDowell.
Ernie Els bounced back from a bogey late in the third round, birdieing two of the remaining three holes at Bay Hill, to fire a five-under 67 for a share of low round of the day honors. He also had the confidence to roll in a five-footer to save par on No. 17 and a 14-footer for birdie on No. 18 — two crucial putts to stay in contention going in the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and to keep his Masters hopes alive.
Last time Tiger Woods had at least a share of the 36-hole lead at a PGA Tour event was at the 2009 Tour Championship. Oh, how time flies — and yes, it’s really been that long. However, he did lead at the halfway mark four months ago at the Australian Open, and then played his way out of contention in the third round but bounced back on Sunday to finish third. Not to be Debbie Downer, but let’s not get too excited yet (I’ve learned the hard way when I seriously thought he was going to win by five at Pebble, instead he shot 75 and got his butt whooped by Phil Mickelson).
On a day where he admittedly didn’t do anything great, Tiger Woods managed to shoot three-under 69 at Bay Hill, where he’s won six times, and put himself in good position on the leaderboard in the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He made four birdies and one bogey, and left a few shots out there with two three-putts (you know, pretty standard these days).
Arnold Palmer isn’t happy, to say the least, that the world’s top two players, Luke Donald, who returned to No. 1 after winning the Transitions Championship last week, and reigning U.S. Open champ Rory McIlroy aren’t playing his tournament at Bay Hill.