ORLANDO, Fla. – Some rounds always prompt questions about what could have been. Tiger Woods’ opening 3-under 69 on Thursday at breezy Bay Hill was not one of those rounds.
All things considered – difficult, cool conditions and an even cooler putter – Woods seemed pleased with his opening effort even though it left him four strokes off the lead held by Justin Rose, who is paired with Woods for the first two rounds.
“I played alright,” said Woods, who needed 29 putts on Thursday. “I didn’t hit it my best, (but) I scored well.”
Woods’ round had the makings of something special early when he made eagle at the par-5 16th hole following a bombing drive that left him just a wedge into the green. But he missed the next four greens in regulation and bogeyed Nos. 17 and 18 to drop back to 1 under par.
Woods rallied on his back nine (he started on No. 10) with birdies at Nos. 4, 5 and 6 but found a bunker with his tee shot at the seventh and made bogey to finish at 3 under par.
The seven-time Bay Hill champion seemed surprisingly upbeat considering his position behind Rose and that likely has to do with his history at the Central Florida layout. In his seven victories at the API he has opened with rounds better than 69 just twice and was 3 under at the same stage last year when he went on to a five-stroke triumph.