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The Tour Report

March 23 2013

5:28 PM

Year makes big difference for Woods

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A year ago, Tiger Woods made the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard his first PGA TOUR win in more than two years.

After a 6-under 66 Saturday at Bay Hill, he's in position to win it again, leading by two over Rickie Fowler, John Huh and Justin Rose.

But this isn't the same Woods that was victorious here 12 months ago.

"I'm much more comfortable," Woods said. "Also I'm feeling pretty good physically. Last year at this point I had just pulled out of Doral.

"I've had one more year of working on my game and here I am."

What a difference a year can make. Here is Woods alright.

Should he win Sunday it would be his third victory of the season and sixth in his last 19 stroke-play starts on TOUR. It would also move him back to No. 1 in the world for the first time since Oct. 30, 2010 and move him to the top of the FedExCup standings.

"I just understand how to fix my game," Woods said, explaining the difference between him now and a year ago. "It's taken me a while. I was hurt for a long time. The changes to make the swing from where I was to now is a pretty big change."

Saturday, there wasn't much that needed fixing.

Woods looked more like his old self, making five birdies, just one bogey and an eagle that stirred the crowd around the par-5 16th into a frenzy and elicited a familiar fist pump from Woods.

"I hit a bad shot here and there, and that's easy to fix," Woods continued. "I know what my fix is going to be and that makes a big difference."

So does good putting.

Woods needed just 25 putts Saturday, and he missed only one from inside 10 feet after missing three from inside that range each of the last two days.

"I feel comfortable with the putts," Woods said. "I hit a lot of good ones today."

He hit a lot of good irons, too, including on the par-5 sixth, which he reached in two before two-putting for birdie.

His best of the day, however, came on the 15th, where he flushed a 6-iron from 196 yards to about 15 feet. He made the putt, helping erase a bogey from two holes earlier.

Then came the eagle on 16 and back-to-back pars to finish, which left him in a far better mood than a day earlier when he closed with three straight bogeys.

"I was hot," Woods said of the previous day's finish.

Saturday, he was a different kind of hot.

Said Woods: "I'm excited about tomorrow."