Rory McIlroy looked set to challenge for the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational yesterday when he played his first 10 holes in five under par , but a string of pars was followed by a drive out of bounds on the 18th.
The resulting double bogey left McIlroy alongside Tommy Fleetwood, Portrush’s Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose on three under.
Rose having recovered from being four over par after six holes with seven birdies in the next 10.
And Tiger Woods attempted to keep a lid on soaring expectations after making an impressive start at the event.
Woods is seeking a record ninth victory at Bay Hill in just his fifth PGA Tour event since undergoing spinal fusion surgery in April 2017, his fourth back operation in the space of three years.
The 42-year-old finished second to England’s Paul Casey in the Valspar Championship on Sunday and carried on where he left off in Orlando with an opening 68 to lie four shots behind clubhouse leader Henrik Stenson.
That performance saw some bookmakers install Woods as a joint-favourite for the upcoming Masters alongside world number one Dustin Johnson, but Woods was keen to avoid getting carried away with the hype.
“I just wanted to remind you guys that it wasn’t that long ago that you were asking a different set of questions and that you need to enjoy it. I enjoy just playing again after what I’ve been through.
“Playing feels good and I am just enjoying it.”