Resurgent Tiger hungry and healthy
Updated: Wednesday, 20 Mar 2013 19:07
Tiger Woods can regain the world number one spot from Rory McIlroy by defending his Arnold Palmer Invitational title this week - but he has no plans to stop there.
Woods was number one for 281 weeks in succession between 12 June, 2005 and 30 October, 2010, since when Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald and McIlroy have held top spot.
And although he admits to being very proud at recovering from outside the top 50 at one point to being on the verge of number one status again, Woods will not be satisfied with that.
"I don't want to become as good as I once was, I want to become better," the 14-time major winner told his pre-tournament press conference.
"We'll see. It's been a long process. I was hurt for a long time and at the same time had to make swing changes that were drastically different. I fell to 50 plus for a while and to gradually work my back is something I am very proud of.
"We are still getting better, things are becoming more efficient. The two wins this year I have built some nice leads and things are starting to come around."
The second of those wins came in the WGC-Cadillac Championship a fortnight ago - his 17th WGC title - and means a 77th PGA Tour triumph at Bay Hill will lift him above the absent McIlroy in the rankings.
The 37-year-old has won seven of his 15 professional events at the Orlando venue and never doubted that he would be able to get back to his dominant best, if he could stay fit.
"I just needed to get healthy and once I was able to practice properly I could implement the swing changes and I could get back there," Woods added. "It happened to be a perfect storm where I was making a swing change and couldn't devote any time to it. Once i was able to do that I started to gain momentum and here we are.
"I didn't have the doubt that people might have expected; I just felt I needed to get healthy so things just didn't hurt."
"I don't want to become as good as I once was, I want to become better" - Tiger Woods
Woods looked close to his best during his victory at Doral and certainly impressed this week's tournament host Arnold Palmer.
"I think right now, looking at him and watching him play, he looks probably as strong and as good from a golf perspective as I've ever seen him," Palmer said today.
"I think his swing and his posture and his attitude is far better than it's been in some time."
Woods will not have it all his own way however this week, with FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker among a strong field after a five-week lay-off with a rib injury.
"I feel completely healthy," said Snedeker, whose five tournaments in 2013 have produced finishes of third, 23rd, second, second and first. "I'm going to have a little soreness and that is to be expected, but no concern whatsoever.
"This is an injury you don't want to try to play through because it can get worse. The Masters is something that you don't want to miss due to an injury. I'm glad I'm back, but the Masters was a concern."