Tiger Woods has thrown down the gauntlet exactly a month before the start of the Masters at Augusta.
Even with bogeys at the last two holes the world number one made it three wins in five starts this year when he captured the Ford Championship at Doral in Florida last night.
It was his second successful defence of a title this season – and he is, of course, the holder of the Masters.
In contrast, Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia have not lifted one trophy between them yet.
After becoming the first player since Ray Floyd in 1981 to retain the Doral crown Woods, who now has 64 wins worldwide, said: “It’s fun to see that all of the hard work I’ve been putting in is starting to pay off where I’m able to play consistently day after day.
“That’s why I work as hard as I do.”
In the past 12 months Woods has separated himself from the rest yet again and while many observers would love to see a great rivalry develop again there is no sign of it at present.
“All I can do is beat whoever is in the field and that’s it,” he added. “I’m trying to do my part by putting myself there and winning tournaments and trying to improve each and every week and each and every year.
“I’m able to hit so many more golf shots now than I could last year at this time. On top of that, I can fix it while I’m out there playing. A year ago I had so many things I was still working on that I had a hard time fixing it because if I hit one shot, it could be three or four different things I needed to work on.
“Now I know exactly what to do and I can rectify it on the very next shot. But I’ve still got some work to do. That’s the beauty of it – I can be better tomorrow than I am today. The check list is certainly smaller, but still I’ve got some work to do.
“It’s the whole swing, basically. Just keep refining what we’re working on and making sure it’s where I can go out there and hit shots and trust it and flight the ball correctly either way – up, down, right to left, left to right. I want to make sure I can do that on call.”
Incredibly, it was the 34th time out of 37 Woods has turned a 54-hole lead into a win on the US Tour.
His caddie Steve Williams, a car racer in his native New Zealand, recently took possession of a Ford GT that came with Woods’ victory last year. This time he opted for the copper Mustang.
When Woods was asked if his wife Elin had any say over who got the car he replied: “No, she has others.”
The bogey-bogey finish recalled last year’s Masters, but whereas he had to go into a play-off with Chris DiMarco there on this occasion it was still good enough for a one-stroke victory over David Toms and Colombian rookie Camilo Villegas.
Toms had a putt to draw level with Woods on the last, but it was from nearly 70 feet, he raced it 10 feet past and missed the return.
Woods, five under for the first 16 holes, had just bogeyed the relatively easy 17th from the middle of the fairway, but Toms’ first three-putt of the week gave him a cushion again.
He steered clear of the lake down the 18th by going in the right-hand rough, then a bunker and even though he had an awkward stance for his third shot he splashed out to 12 feet and two-putted.
Daniel Chopra, paired with Woods, slumped to a 77 and leading European in the end was his fellow Swede Fredrik Jacobson, who came through to fourth place with a 68.
David Howell matched that score for 12th spot, but Greg Owen and Padraig Harrington could do no better than 72 and so finished 20th and 26th respectively.
As for Mickelson, who shared the halfway lead with Woods but then fell four behind with a 72, he went in the water at both the eighth and ninth and wound up alongside Howell after a 73.