Casey wins Valspar as Woods finishes one stroke behind


Marc Leishman will look to defend his title at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational, but all eyes will be on Tiger Woods, who will make his first appearance at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida, in five years.

"Just me being out there on those greens and hitting putts and being creative. there's no other golf course like it in the world and there's no other golf tournament like it".

We need to rewind a few weeks to start to answer that question because, and let's be quite frank here, Woods wasn't even on the radar in terms of being a potential victor in the season's first major at the end of January, whereas McIlroy looked a sound bet for Augusta National.

That followed 12th place on his previous start and has led to the 14-time major victor being installed as favourite for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, an event he has won eight times, including on his last appearance in 2013.

The 42-year-old Woods had a long relationship with seven-times major victor Palmer, who died in September 2016 aged 87.

Former world No.1 Day has been placed in the marquee group alongside 14-time major victor Woods and Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama for the first two rounds at Florida's famed Bay Hill course. "Just keep making incremental improvements and I think I've done that".

On the eve of the Bay Hill tournament Woods was named as U.S. captain for the next Presidents Cup, a role usually reserved for veterans at the end of their career. Even when he was clearly struggling physically, he'd always talk about how he still felt a win - a "W" as he always put it - was a possibility bit, but now he's trying not to heap too much pressure on himself and rightly so.

"Each and every week I've learned from what I've done and more importantly I'm learning my body". But I've got to do some serious homework to really get to know and get the feel of how this golf course is playing this particular year, considering I haven't played here in five years. I'm learning how I can swing it and not swing it. these are all things that are new.

"I'm sure he's excited to come back to Augusta, and it's a place where he's done well, so I would expect him to do fairly well". The fact is, no matter what you think of Tiger (his personal life has been a roller coaster ever since that fateful day a golf club reportedly met the back windshield of his car), he's good for golf, even if he never returns to the dominance that once propelled him to the top of this sport.

"And so there's a process and an evolution to it and it's been quick, but still I have to say just to enjoy all of this, because at one point that wasn't even a thought". He last made the cut in 2008.

He hasn't competed at Bay Hill since receiving the trophy from the late Arnold Palmer for the eighth time back in 2013, and should he get the job done this week he would become the first player in PGA Tour history to win the same tournament nine times. "There was a lot of dark times where I couldn't get out of bed, couldn't move, the pain was too great".