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NEWS: Woods’ Momentum Builds With Opening 68 At Bay Hill

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the 15th hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. (Photo Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

With oddsmakers now touting a resurgent Tiger Woods as the betting favorite to win the Masters (see odds below), Woods looked every bit the part in an opening 68 Thursday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The round proved similar to others in Woods’ comeback effort as he struggled to drive the ball in the fairway (8-for-14) but made up for it with solid iron play and a formidable short game. After the morning wave, Woods led the field in strokes gained around the green.

After just 15 PGA Tour rounds this season, Woods looks settled and likely to improve on his No. 149 world ranking.

“I feel way more comfortable in the tournament setting,” Woods said. “It’s taken a little bit of time in terms of tournament rounds under my belt to be able to get into this position and I’ve got my tournament feels now, which is nice. That was only going to come with time and with patience and just playing golf tournaments.”

Paired with Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama, Woods teed off on No. 10 at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge Thursday. After hitting a wedge in close to set up a birdie on the par-5 12th, Woods rolled home a beautiful 17-foot putt on the par-4 13th to quickly reach 2-under par. He drove it well right on the par-5 16th but needed only a 9-iron to hit the green in two, easily making another birdie.

Woods birdied all four par-5s on Thursday.

His lone hiccup came off the tee on No. 3 when he blocked a fairway metal so far right of the fairway that it rolled into the fencing that marks out of bounds on the hole. After re-teeing, he made a double bogey on the par-4.

However, Woods stormed home. He reached the par-5 fourth in two strokes and made an easy birdie before a great pitch shot on No. 6 set up another birdie. His highlight of the day was on No. 7 when he rolled home a 71-foot birdie putt to send the crowd into an uproar.

“As I did last week, as my dad always told me, just putt to the picture,” Woods said. “And I was asking for it to bite as it came over that knob, it was a little too hot and it had to crash in the hole.”

Woods, who at one time held the lead alone, trailed Jimmy Walker by one stroke after the morning wave.


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