In perhaps the least surprising news in the sports world on Thursday, Tiger Woods is off to a strong start at Bay Hill and is on the first page of the leaderboard as he goes for an eighth career win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Woods is currently tied for sixth at 1-under and made the turn in 35. He's two shots back of a quartet of leaders at 3-under, including Justin Rose and John Rollins.
While Woods is comfortably inside the top 10, it could have been a much more efficient start to his week in Orlando. Tiger gave two shots back before making the turn, carding back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18. Those bogeys erased the work of a picture-perfect tee-to-green eagle at the par-5 16th hole that momentarily shot him to the top of the board at solo first. According to Golf Channel's Tiger Tracker, Woods's caddie Joe LaCava said he hit a wedge into the green on his second shot, sticking it to about 15 feet. That's probably not the way they drew that hole up, but Tiger's work on the par-5s is traditionally what secures his victories.
But the difference between winning and contending for Tiger this year lies in his short game, both with his wedges and the putter. He blasted his seven-foot par putt past the hole on the 18th to drop back to 1-under, but then hit one of those crucial moderate-length par-saving putts on No. 1 to stay in the red. Those are the putts that have always been the difference for him -- 10 feet and shorter to save par.
Woods will be a heavy favorite even if he doesn't have the lead going into the weekend, but as is always the case with Arnie's tourney, it's a loaded field he's up against. Rose is playing some of the best golf in the world right now and it's not surprise to see him in the lead as the Florida Swing wraps up. Here's a current snapshot of the leaders and notables:
For a full leaderboard, visit Golf.com.