Justin Rose started out as another guy in Tiger Woods’ group Thursday at Bay Hill. He wound up in the lead.
Rose put on a clinic with the putter and ran off four straight birdies late in his round for a 7-under 65, giving him a two-shot lead after the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Fla.
Woods had two sloppy bogeys from greenside bunkers and didn’t hit it as well as he did when he won at Doral two weeks ago. But he made enough key par saves and manhandled the par 5s to scratch out a 69, a reasonable start as he tries to win Bay Hill for the eighth time and return to No. 1 in the world.
It was only the sixth time in 31 rounds at Bay Hill that Rose broke 70.
“If you had said I would shoot a 65 on the range this morning, I would have probably said, ‘How many holes have I played?’ And that didn’t change much,” Rose said. “The first five, six holes out there were a grind.”
John Huh had a chance to catch Rose late in the afternoon, but needing a birdie on the final hole, he found a fairway bunker on No. 9 and took bogey for a 67. John Rollins and Brad Fritsch were at 68.
Also in the group at 69 with Woods were Ryo Ishikawa of Japan, Nick Watney, Sean O’Hair and Bill Haas.
British Open champion Ernie Els played with Rose and Woods and disappeared quickly, finishing with a 75.
Others weren’t even that fortunate. U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson and two-time major champion Angel Cabrera each had 80. Masters champion Bubba Watson birdied three of his last four holes for a 74.
Brandt Snedeker, playing for the first time in five weeks because of a rib injury, took triple bogey on his 17th hole and had a 76.
PARK LEADS KIA CLASSIC
Jane Park shot a bogey-free 6-under 66 to take the lead after the opening round of the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif.
Park, who lives in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and went to UCLA, had a one-stroke lead over Caroline Hedwall and Karrie Webb.
Stacy Lewis, playing her first round since taking over the No. 1 spot in the world from Yani Tseng, was four shots off the lead. She is trying to win her third straight tournament.
Tseng, the Kia Classic winner last year, was disqualified after oversleeping and missing her pro-am tee time Wednesday.
RAIN AT MALAYSIAN OPEN
Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand shot a 7-under 65 to take the clubhouse lead at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur before thunderstorms caused the suspension of the first round.