Rose enjoying himself at ‘Arnie’s Place’
English golfer takes clubhouse lead at Bay Hill with seven-under par round of 65, Woods four back
Tiger Woods and Justin Rose walk down the 9th hole at Bay Hill. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Justin Rose returned a seven-under 65 to grab the first-round clubhouse lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Thursday, while Tiger Woods got his bid for an eighth Bay Hill title off to a solid start.
Rose outshone playing partners Woods and Ernie Els by mixing an eagle and six birdies with a single bogey on a sunny but chilly and blustery day at "Arnie's place."
Playing the back nine first, Rose got off to a stuttering start with a bogey at the 11th but it would be his only blemish in an otherwise sparkling round highlighted by an eagle at the par-five 16th and four straight birdies from the fourth to leave him three clear of John Rollins (68).
"It was a good round of golf, I kept myself out of trouble for the most part which is tough to do here at Bay Hill," Rose said after his round. "I thought I put together a clever round of golf and capitalised with the putter today. That's as good of a putting round I've had in a long, long time."
Graeme McDowell, the only Irish player in the field, had a solid if unspectacular day, a single birdie cancelled out by a solitary bogey to leave the Rathmore man on level par.
Woods, who can reclaim the number one world ranking from Rory McIlroy with a win on Sunday, was not at his best but battled to a three-under 69 to sit four off the clubhouse leader alongside Charley Hoffman, Nick Watney, Sean O'Hair and Ryo Ishikawa.
Woods feasted on Bay Hill's par fives, carding three birdies and an eagle on the four holes but the defending champion undid much of his good work with back-to-back bogeys at 17 and 18.
"I certainly didn't play my best, but I got around and made a few good saves out there," said Woods, who has two wins in four PGA Tour starts this season. "It was so cool and the ball wasn't flying, and it presented a pretty good challenge."
"Days happen like this. It was cool this morning, and it just didn't work out but I scored well and I kept myself in the tournament."
With his confidence surging, Woods was unfazed by his uneven play and with good reason having won seven times at Bay Hill.
"It's just one of those courses," shrugged Woods. "I've had a few courses like that, and, fortunately, this is one of them."