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DORAL, Fla. - Devouring courses that fit his eye, Tiger Woods is starting to look - and play - like the best player in the world again.
Don't expect his roll to slow, either, as two more of his favorite tracks are on tap - Bay Hill and Augusta National.
Although the Masters is exactly a month away, Woods stamped himself as a favorite to win a fifth green jacket with his second authoritative win of the season Sunday at Trump Doral Resort. Despite two inconsequential bogeys in his last three holes, the world No. 2 polished off his 76th PGA Tour win with a final-round 1-under-par 71 at the TPC Blue Monster to beat Steve Stricker by two shots.
With rounds of 66-65-67-71, Woods finished at 19-under 269. He made 27 birdies, one shy of his record for a tournament. He needed just 100 putts, a career low. And now has five PGA Tour wins in the last 50 weeks. And for the first time in five years he has two wins before the Masters.
"That's how I know I can play," Woods said. "To bring it out a couple times this year has been nice. Anytime I can win prior to Augusta feels good."
It was Woods' fourth win at Doral and his seventh in the tournament. He won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines earlier this season for the seventh time, and he also won the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
In all, he's won four events seven times. That includes the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where Woods will make his next start in two weeks. Last year Woods ended his 30-month drought on the Tour with his seventh win at Bay Hill. It will be his final start before the April 11-14 Masters.
Woods could regain the No. 1 ranking with a win at Bay Hill.
"He's been playing like this for quite some time," said Phil Mickelson, who shot 71 to finish in a tie for third with Sergio Garcia (69), Adam Scott (64) and Graeme McDowell (72). "He's pretty strong. He's playing at a very high level, week in, week out."
"His attitude and what I saw this week and his belief in himself again looks very similar to when he was, you know, in the early 2000s, or you can pick any year, I guess, when he was playing great," Stricker said. "He just seems in a better place mentally. He seems to be having fun. And he seems to have a lot of confidence in himself and his game."
Stricker, one of the nicest guys on the PGA Tour, or anywhere, for that matter, might have a few enemies after giving Woods a putting tip Wednesday night. Woods said the 45-minute session centered on his posture.