Tiger Woods tees off on the 16th hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Florida.
Tiger Woods tees off on the 16th hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Florida. Phelan M. Ebenhack

Tiger looks a threat at Bay Hill

HENRIK Stenson has blitzed his way into the first-round lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The 2016 British Open winner upstaged an in-form Tiger Woods, firing an eight-under-par 64 at Florida's famed Bay Hill course.

The 41-year-old Swede enjoyed a one-shot lead over Aaron Wise and unheralded American Talor Gooch.

Rickie Fowler (67) headlines a tie for fourth at five under.

Coming off a tie for second at last week's Valspar Championship, 14-time major champion Woods fired a 68 on his return to Bay Hill.

Woods hasn't played the Palmer event since winning the 2013 edition - his eighth title at Bay Hill.

"I feel way more comfortable in the tournament setting," Woods said, playing the fifth event of his comeback from spinal fusion surgery.

"It's taken a few tournament rounds under my belt to be able to get into this position (regularly), but I've got my tournament feels now, which is nice."

Teeing off from the 10th, Woods put on a ball-striking clinic on his front nine as he raced into the lead after hitting seven of the first nine greens and four of seven fairways.

But the wheels appeared to come off early on his back nine when an out-of-bounds tee shot resulted in a double bogey six at the par-four third.

Woods bounced back in trademark fashion with three birdies on the home stretch, iced by a stunning 21.5m birdie putt he drained from off the green at the par-three seventh.

Defending Palmer champion Marc Leishman finished as the leading Australian, sitting at two under after a 70.

A shot back is Perth youngster Curtis Luck (71), while big-name countrymen Jason Day and Adam Scott both shot 73.

Day, the 2016 champion at Bay Hill, said: "I just didn't give myself opportunities. It's pretty hard to make birdies from 51 feet and I didn't hole anything today."

Queenslander Cameron Smith struggled on day one, shooting a 75, putting him three shots ahead of Stuart Appleby.



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