Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tiger Clawing Back to No. 1

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tiger Clawing Back to No. 1

Article excerpt

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Tiger Woods knows better than anyone what it takes to be the best golfer in the world. He also knows the pain of a precipitous and public fall from that perch.

Those perspectives, both the high and the low, only help to make the current situation all the more satisfying for Woods: a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this weekend makes him No. 1 in the world again.

"It's been a long process," Woods said. "To work my way back, that's something I'm proud of."

Woods spent an unprecedented 623 weeks atop the Official World Golf Rankings, including a record from 2005 to 2010 when he spent 281 consecutive weeks at No. 1.

"I don't think people really realize how hard it is," Woods said of reaching and sustaining the No. 1 ranking. "I've always known how hard it is to spend the time out there, to work, to lift all the weights and do all the training and spend the time and devotion that it takes to get there. It's not easy."

That was proven with how quickly Woods' era of dominance unraveled, beginning with a late-night car accident in November 2009 that led to revelations of infidelity, damage to his image and cost him his marriage.

Woods' game went south quickly after, as he battled injuries while trying to remake his swing for the third time in his career. In October of 2010, Woods lost his No. 1 ranking and by November of 2011 he had fallen to No. 58 in the world.

"It just happened to be a perfect storm," Woods said, "where I was making a swing change, and I was hurt, and I couldn't devote any time to it."

Woods said the turnaround began when he got healthy. Once he was able to devote the time to master his new swing, Woods and everyone else began seeing the results.

Woods has won five tournaments in the last 12 months -- beginning with the Arnold Palmer Invitational a year ago -- and is the prohibitive favorite at Bay Hill Club once again.

"Right now ... he looks probably as strong and as good from a golf perspective as I've ever seen him," golf legend and tournament host Arnold Palmer said. "I think his swing and his posture and his attitude is far better than it's been in some time."

Woods can climb to the top of the golf mountain this weekend, but until he wins a major questions will linger. …

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