Justin Rose started out as another guy in Tiger Woods’s group Thursday at Bay Hill. He wound up in the lead.
Rose put on a putting clinic and ran off four straight birdies late in his round for a 7-under-par 65, giving him a two-shot lead after the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando.
Woods had two sloppy bogeys from greenside bunkers, but 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 made bogey for a 67. John Rollins and Brad Fritsch were at 68.
Rose and Woods played in the morning, the tougher side of the draw because of chilly temperatures and a strong breeze. The rough was thick without being terribly high. The hole locations were in spots Woods had not seen very often. The scores were reflective of a challenging morning until Rose and Woods began to pick up the pace on the par-5 16th.
Both made eagle from inside 15 feet — Woods hit a 9-iron for a second shot on a hole that was playing downwind — but that’s where their fortunes changed. Woods came up short in a bunker, hit a poor shot, and took bogey on the 17th. Rose holed a 20-foot birdie putt.
On the front nine, both made three straight birdies starting on the par-5 fourth. Rose doubled his lead over Woods on the par-3 seventh with a 12-foot birdie putt, and Woods came up short in the bunker and failed to save par.
Also at 69 with Woods were Ryo Ishikawa, Nick Watney, Sean O’Hair, and Bill Haas, who bogeyed his last two holes.
Ernie Els played with Rose and Woods and dropped five shots in the opening five holes. He rallied with a 4-iron to 2 feet for birdie on the 18th, and a 9-iron to about the same tap-in range on his final hole at No. 9 to salvage a 75.
Others weren’t so fortunate. Webb Simpson and Angel Cabrera each had 80. Bubba Watson birdied three of his last four holes for a 74.
LPGA — In Carlsbad, Calif., Jane Park shot a 6-under 66 to take the lead after the opening round of the Kia Classic. Caroline Hedwall and Karrie Webb are a shot back, and Stacy Lewis, playing her first round since taking over the No. 1 ranking, was four shots off the lead.
European — Kiradech Aphibarnrat 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. Half the field was still on the course.