March 19, 2018 / 3:11 AM / a month ago

Tiger puts game back together bit-by-bit ahead of Masters

(Reuters) - Tiger Woods came up short in his bid for a comeback win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday but a promising performance for a second week in a row looks like sending him off to next month’s U.S. Masters with growing confidence.

Mar 18, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; Tiger Woods hits from the bunker on the 17th hole during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill Club & Lodge. Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Woods achieved his second consecutive top five performance at Bay Hill on Sunday, a couple of late bogeys leaving him tied for fifth a week after he finished in second place at the Valspar Championship.

After a long absence from the game while he dealt with a series of back problems, Woods looks like he is finally putting his once brilliant game back together a week at a time.

Mar 18, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; After taking relief, Tiger Woods hits his second shot to the green on the ninth hole during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill Club & Lodge. Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

“I’m starting to piece it together, tournament by tournament, and each tournament’s gotten a little crisper and a little bit better,” Woods told Gold Digest in Florida.

Mar 18, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; Tiger Woods reacts after he rolls in a putt for birdie on the tenth hole during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill Club & Lodge. Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

“If I can play with no pain, and I can feel like I can make golf swings, I’ll figure it out.”At Bay Hill, it was his magical putting touch that seemed to return - the 42-year-old draining a 71-foot bomb in the first round before adding a 38-footer in the third round.

More importantly, however, the 14-times major champion was consistently steady on his short range putts over a week that saw him make 20 birdies in total.

“I felt like I really putted well the entire week (and) hit a lot of good putts,” Woods said after finishing with four rounds of par or better.

His putting stroke will be of most importance at Augusta National where the greens are slick and undulating. Woods has won four times at the famous course but not played at the Masters since 2015.

“I miss playing there,” Woods said. “I’ve had a lot of success there, too, so really looking forward to getting up there and doing a bit of work and getting a feel for the golf course and basically feel for playing that style of golf again.”

Reporting by Jahmal Corner. Editing by Nick Mulvenney

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