Bay Hill is not the first chance for Tiger Woods to return to No. 1 in the world.
But it might be his best.
A win this week in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Fla., would allow Woods to go back to No. 1 for the first time since the end of October in 2010.
Woods not only is the defending champion at the Arnold Palmer Invitational but also is a seven-time winner at Bay Hill. Not only does his game look sharp, Woods already has two wins this year, both of them with comfortable margins on the back nine at Torrey Pines and Doral.
And his peers are paying attention.
"The one thing I don't think you give Tiger enough credit for is every time I see him tee it up, he hits it on the center of the bat -- hits is solidly all the time," said Brandt Snedeker, who has done his viewing on television after sitting out the last five weeks with a rib injury. "That is a very underrated quality. Not very many guys do that. When guys have an off week, they tend to mishit it. When Tiger has an off week, it's not like that."
Graeme McDowell saw it on the weekend at Doral, where he did his best to make up a deficit and Woods always had an answer, winning by two shots. McDowell also saw it a year ago at Bay Hill in fast, firm conditions that made it feel like Sunday at the U.S. Open. Woods closed with a 70 and won by five.
"I think as difficult as this golf course played last year on Sunday afternoon, I watched the Tiger
Woods sank to as low as No. 58 in November 2011 before making a gradual return toward the top, getting a power boost last year by winning three times. He went to the PGA Championship with a chance to reach No. 1 by winning, but then he failed to convert a 36-hole share of the lead. Rory McIlroy won at Kiawah Island, and with three more wins the rest of the way, the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland appeared to be entrenched at No. 1 for some time.
As McIlroy has floundered this year, Woods has been charging.
"We're still getting better," Woods said. "Things are still becoming more efficient. These two wins I've had this year, I've built myself some nice leads, which means that I've played really well, and things are starting to come around and become more efficient day in and day out."
LPGA: Defending champion and formerly top-ranked Yani Tseng was dropped from the Kia Classic field after missing her 9:10 a.m. pro-am tee time Wednesday.
"I'm embarrassed to admit that I wasn't feeling well last night and accidentally overslept," Tseng said in a statement released by the tour.
On Sunday, Stacy Lewis won the LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix to end Tseng's 109-week run at No. 1.
Tseng is winless in 23 events since her Kia Classic victory last year. The 15-time LPGA Tour winner tied for 59th last week in Phoenix.