After winning the US Open in 2008 with a broken leg, Tiger Woods had surgery to repair the ACL in his left knee, and took the rest of the season off to recover. He made his return to competitive golf at the WGC-Match Play at the end of February in 2009, where he finished 17th, and then played the WGC-CA Championship two weeks later, finishing 9th.
For many, this would have been a good return to form for someone that had almost nine months out of the game.
But for Tiger – someone that had only played seven tournaments in 2008, winning five – this was an average start to the year. He entered the week of the Arnold Palmer Invitational determined to continue his incredible record at Bay Hill. He had won at Bay Hill in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2008.
Woods started the final round trailing by five shots to Sean O’Hair. It was no surprise to see Woods surging through the field as O’Hair showed signs of crumbling under the pressure.
After a bogey at the 17th, Woods was tied with O’Hair coming up the final hole, setting up a dramatic finale. Tiger’s approach shot pitched slightly long before spinning back just under the hole, leaving a 12-footer straight up the hill. O’Hair pulled his effort to the left-hand side of the green, giving him almost no chance of making.
With only minutes of light remaining, O’Hair lagged his putt a couple of feet from the hole, putting the entire spotlight on Woods, who rammed the putt into the back of the hole, leading to wild celebrations and patented Tiger fist pumps. O’Hair could only watch on.
This was Tiger’s first time playing under the pressure of contention since his US Open triumph nine months prior – and it was just typical of Woods that he would make another huge putt on the final green.
That would be his sixth win at Bay Hill, and it set the tone for another incredible year of golf, where he’d go on to win another six times.
Since then, he’s added to his Bay Hill collection two more times, back-to-back in 2012 and 2013.
But since that comeback in 2009, he’s yet to win another major championship. Maybe 2018 is the year?