Henrik Stenson takes a solo lead at 8-under-64
Henrik Stenson had a hot putter, posting four consecutive birdies from 10th to 13th, stopping for a bogey on 14th, and making two more back to back birdies on 15th and 16th holes, and adding three more birdies on his blemish-free back nine for a shot lead at 8-under-64 in the opening round at Bay Hill, the location hosting the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
Not long ago Stenson was grouped with Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth for opening two rounds at Valspar Championship, where only Tiger was the one who made the cut for the weekends after Spieth and Stenson both posted 5-over-par.
This is Stenson’s lowest round ever at the course after posting birdies on half of the holes.
“It’s great to see him back competing, but it was a little loud out there last week,” Stenson said. “But that comes with the excitement of having him back and seeing him play well, so I thought it was great. … I guess it’s nice to get a little bit of a breather at times, though.”
PGA Tour rookies Aaron Wise and Talor Gooch each scored 65, for a T-2nd finish by a shot behind Henrik Stenson. Aaron Wise missed his birdie putt on his final hole, else might have joined Stenson for the lead.
Tiger Woods huge return, solo lead, T-2nd, T-7th all in a day
Tiger Woods as always brought a huge crowd with his name cheering him even in a chill Thursday morning. Tiger’s only blemish came on the par-4 third hole where he hit his tee-shot out of bounds and had to take a re-shot with a stroke’s penalty.
He went on to post a 71-feet birdie on the par-3 seventh, gaining him the solo lead, after dropping to T-5th and T-3rd with his double-bogey on the third.
“I feel like I’m not really thinking as much around the golf course,” Woods said. “I can just see and feel it and go.”
Tiger posted 4-under-68 for his opening round for his best opening round score since he returned this year from a fourth back surgery, in Apr. 2017, and is happy with a score in 60’s.
“There won’t be a lot of rounds out there that will be in the 60s. The golf course is playing difficult.”
There were 13 more rounds in the 60s including Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy. They each scored 3-under-69 for the day for a T-13th finish on the board and were joined by Brandon Harkins, Graeme McDowell, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Emiliano Grillo, and Sam Burns.
Tiger Woods has already had a T-2nd finish at the Valspar Championship, missing it by a shot on the 18th to force a playoff against Paul Casey. Woods started and finished his round strong with just a small mishap in between on the third.
Woods tee-shot on the third sailed to the right and went off a cart path and toward the houses. Only when he reached the ball he found out that ball has rolled out of boundary set up by waist-high poles. He went back to the tee and made a double-bogey there.
And then the big finish – two birdies on par-5’s fourth and sixth, and a 70-foot birdie putt on the seventh. Woods immediately pressed his hands down, asking for the ball to slow down, and watched it drop, just like the vintage Tiger.
“I was trying to lag it down there and just make my par and get out of here,” he said. “It had to crash at the hole — which I’m not complaining — and it went in.”
He finished his round with a 12-foot putt to save par from the bunker.
Tiger stands T-7th with Patrick Reed, who had joined him for a T-2nd finish at Valspar too, Byeon Hun An, Billy Horschel, Brian Harman, and J.B. Holmes.
Jimmy Walker, Rickie Fowler, and Bryson DeChambeau stood T-4th at 5-under-67.
The 2016 winner Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama were paired with Woods, while Day posted 1-over-73 for a T-69th position with Anirban Lahiri, Hideki was cautious from the starting and kept struggling despite posting an eagle on par-5 16th for a 2-under-70 to stand T-22nd on the board with Bubba Watson, William McGirt, Ryan Armour, Paul Goydos, defending champion Marc Leishman, Matt Every, Tyrrell Hatton, Kevin Chappell, and Sam Horsfield.