Tiger Woods of the USA proudly holds the trophy during the final round of the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 25, 2012 in Orlando, Florida

*Tiger Woods pulled away from his competition at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday to earn his first PGA Tour win since September 2009.

Months after capturing the 2009 BMW Championship, Woods became tabloid fodder for his multiple extra-marital affairs and subsequent end of his marriage. His golf game also suffered significantly in the 3 1/2 years since, due in large part to various injuries.

He walked up toward the 18th green Sunday to fervent applause, tipping his hat to fans. He ended up tapping in on that hole for par, to finish five strokes ahead of second-place finisher Graeme McDowell. The victory marked his seventh win at the annual Orlando, Florida tournament.

“It feels really good,” Woods told NBC, which covered the event. “(It was) a lot of hard work, I’m so thankful for a lot of people helping me out along the way. It’s been tough.”

The tournament’s namesake, Arnold Palmer, did not congratulate the winner as expected because of a health problem that led to his going to Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando.

After the tournament, Woods took to Twitter to express his joy and also send out well wishes to Palmer.

“Heading home now and I can’t stop smiling. Thanks to Otown fans and everyone watching for all the love. Get well soon, Arnie,” he wrote.

Next for Tiger will be the Masters in April. Despite earlier concerns that he may be hindered once again by injuries, Woods expressed optimism and enthusiasm Sunday that he’d do well.

“I am excited. It’s always fun to get there, and it’s always fun to play,” he said. “(It is) all coming together at the right time.”