DORAL — One year ago, Tiger Woods withdrew after 11 holes in the final round of the Cadillac Championship with tightness in his left Achilles, the injury that had sidelined him most of the previous summer.
It created uncertainty about his health after a long streak of injuries and whether, coupled with his swing and other problems, he could ever get his game back.
Based on his start to this year, he has.
Woods had full control of his game over the four rounds of this year's Cadillac Championship, leading from wire to wire for his second 2013 win and his 76th on the PGA Tour, six shy of Sam Snead's record.
In Sunday's final round at Doral, which Woods entered leading by four shots, he never let anyone get closer than three until the end. With a conservative bogey on the final hole, he shot 1-under 71 for a two-shot win over Steve Stricker (68) at 19-under 269.
"That's how I know I can play," Woods said. "That's the thing. To be able to bring it out a couple times so far this year — and then be able to close and get the W's on top of that — that's nice. Any time I can win prior to Augusta, it always feels good."
For the first time in five years, Woods has two wins before the Masters.
"Majors and World Golf Championships (events such as this one) are the best because you know you are playing against the best players," he said. "That's what makes wins like this special."
Stricker might want to claim a share of this trophy. Woods ran into his friend on the putting green Wednesday, and in a 45-minute session Stricker helped him with his posture over putts.
"I've been putting at home, and it just still hadn't felt right," Woods said. "He basically got me in the same position that I was at (at the Farmers Insurance Open, which Woods won in January). … I said, 'Well, this is not too foreign. This is what I was a month or so ago.' And I started rolling it, and it felt really, really good."
Woods made 27 birdies at Doral, one short of his personal best on tour, and he took the fewest putts (100) over 72 holes in any of his tour events.
Stricker, playing a part-time schedule, picked up his second runnerup finish in three starts. He said he had no regrets about helping Woods. "At times you kick yourself," he said, laughing. "He's a good friend. We talk a lot about putting. It's good to see him playing well."
Graeme McDowell, who started the round four back, made birdie on the first hole but never got closer. With double bogey on the last, he shot 72 and fell into a four-way tie for third with Phil Mickelson (71), Sergio Garcia (69) and Adam Scott (64). Rory McIlroy had 65, the day's second-best round, and finished 10 under.
PGA: Scott Brown got his first tour win, shooting 2-under 70 to beat Fabian Gomez (71) and Jordan Spieth (67) by one at 20-under 268 in the Puerto Rico Open at Rio Grande.
Tampa Bay Championship: Five were added to the field for this week's PGA Tour event at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor after they finished in the top 10 at the Puerto Rico Open: Brown, Spieth, Justin Bolli, D.J. Trahan and former U.S. Amateur champion and Bradenton resident Peter Uihlein. … Ernie Els pulled out due to an undisclosed ailment. Els played at the Cadillac Championship and shot a final-round 71 to finish at 4 under.
Times staff writer Rodney Page contributed to this report.