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Rose grabs Palmer lead

22 March 2013, 13:28

Florida - Justin Rose, thriving in the spotlight that comes with playing alongside Tiger Woods, fired a seven-under 65 on Thursday to seize a two-shot lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

England's Rose had an eagle and six birdies in his tour of Bay Hill. He held a two-stroke first-round lead over American John Huh.

John Rollins and Canadian Brad Fritsch shared third place on four-under 68, with 14-time major champion Woods in a group of 10 players four off the lead on three-under 69.

Rose said the marquee pairing with Woods "elevates the day" and he made the most of it despite their early tee time that had them heading off the 10th tee in chilly conditions.

"Starting out this morning, the first six, seven, eight holes felt a grind," Rose said. "It was cold. It was windy."

He warmed up plenty on the greens where his putter was "really, really hot".

Rose said that's an area of his game that's been lacking in recent months.

"Today was probably the first real hot day I've had with the blade in a long, long time," he said.

Rose rebounded from a bogey at the 11th with a birdie at 13. He eagled the par-five 16th and added another birdie at 17 before stringing together four birdies in a row from the par-five fourth.

"I'm surprised by that number," he said. "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?"

Woods also eagled the 16th, but was unable to build on that as he bogeyed 17 and 18. Even with three birdies in a row from the fourth he couldn't keep pace with Rose, and he added one more bogey at the par-three seventh.

"I didn't drive it well, didn't hit my irons well and didn't control my distances or trajectory well," Woods said.

Woods won his seventh Bay Hill title last year, and a successful defence could see him supplant Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy atop the world rankings.

Woods has won five titles in the past 12 months, a run that began at Palmer's event last year.

This year, Woods has already collected triumphs at Torrey Pines and Doral to put himself in position to reclaim the No. 1 ranking he once owned.

Woods has spent a record 623 weeks atop the world list, but none since October of 2010.

Among those alongside Woods on three-under 69 were Japan's Ryo Ishikawa, who had six birdies and three bogeys, and American Bill Haas, who was six-under through 12 holes but bogeyed three of his last five holes to fall back.

"It's disappointing," said Haas, who is playing with pain from a neck injury suffered at Riviera in February. "I had a really, really good round of ball-striking."

Leading first-round scores on Thursday in the $6.2 million US PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational (USA unless noted. Par-72):

65 - Justin Rose (ENG)

67 - John Huh

68 - John Rollins, Brad Fritsch (CAN)

69 - Charley Hoffman, Ryo Ishikawa (JPN), Tiger Woods, Nick Watney, Sean O'Hair, Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN), Bill Haas, Jimmy Walker, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (ESP), Ben Kohles

70 - Gary Woodland, Geoff Ogilvy (AUS), Ken Duke, Tag Ridings, Zach Johnson, Ben Crane, Stewart Cink

71 - Pat Perez, Bob Estes, Matt Jones (AUS), Jason Dufner, Lee Westwood (ENG), Henrik Stenson (SWE), Sang-Moon Bae (KOR), David Lingmerth (SWE), Jason Day (AUS), Vaughn Taylor, Hunter Mahan, Chris Kirk, Jim Furyk, Mark Wilson, JJ Henry, Vijay Singh (FIJ), Camilo Villegas (COL), John Senden (AUS)



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