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By Simon Evans
ORLANDO, Florida, March 16 (Reuters) - Tiger Woods produced a superb 24-foot putt for a dramatic birdie on the final hole to claim his ninth win in 10 tournaments at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday.
World number one Woods went into the 18th hole level with fellow American Bart Bryant on nine-under-par and looked set for a play-off.
Journeyman Bryant, ranked 137th before this event, had kept the pressure on Woods throughout with a consistent round of 67 but was left to watch a perfect putt for victory — Woods’s seventh successive worldwide.
Woods celebrated with a punch of his fist and threw his cap to the ground before picking the ball out of the hole with the massed ranks of fans cheering his success.
“It was just a great day. I hit the ball well all day,” said Woods who had struggled to find his form in the opening two rounds and who had been down in 20th place, seven shots off the lead on Friday.
“I was trying to get the speed right, trying not to leave myself a second putt and it went in,” said Woods of his winning stroke.
But the 32-year-old said he was more pleased with his drive to the green where, with the wind changing direction, he opted for a five iron and found the green and his chance of that tournament-winning birdie.
“You have to understand I had not hit the ball well the last three days and then to have that shot with everything on the line, to hit a shot and give myself a putt it...I was just so fired up I hit the shot the way I wanted to.”
Woods ended the day with a four-under-par 66 for a total of 10-under 270.
The only real blemish came when he three-putted for a bogey at the 10th to give Bryant an opening.
Bryant, without a PGA tour win since 2005, was philosophical about his defeat.
“I played the way I felt I had to down the stretch, getting pars to keep the pressure on Tiger. But that is why he is Tiger — he has done it before and he will do it again,” said Bryant.
“It didn’t surprise me one bit. You’ve still got to chuckle even though you’re not surprised. Nothing he does anymore surprises me.”
Woods’s 64th PGA Tour victory means he draws level with Ben Hogan in the list of all-time rankings — only Sam Snead (82) and Jack Nicklaus (73) have won more.
Last year’s winner Vijay Singh of Fiji and Americans Cliff Kresge and Sean O’Hair were tied for third place. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)