Orlando, FL – Justin Rose carded a 7-under 65 on Thursday to grab a 2-stroke lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Rose, who most recently finished in a tie for eighth place at the WGC - Cadillac Championship two weeks ago, has finished inside the top 20 of all five events he has started this year, including three top-10 finishes.
"I'm surprised by that number," Rose said about his 65. "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?"
John Huh finished his first round at Bay Hill Club & Lodge with a 5-under 67 to sit alone in second place, while John Rollins and Brad Fritsch share third place at minus-4.
Defending champion Tiger Woods was a shot behind Rose following an eagle at the 16th, but then closed his round with back-to-back bogeys to fall into a group of 10 players tied for fifth place at 3-under.
"I didn't drive it well, didn't hit my irons well and didn't control my distances or trajectory well," Woods said about his disappointing finish.
Also among that group is Bill Haas, who like Woods was within a stroke of the lead following a birdie at the 12th, but bogeyed three of his last five holes to fall four shots off the pace.
Rose opened his day with three straight pars before starting a streak of four consecutive birdies with a 9-foot putt at the fourth.
He followed that by hitting his second shot at the par-4 fifth to about 10 feet and converted the birdie effort, and then rolled in a 6-foot birdie putt at the sixth.
Rose capped the run with a 13-foot birdie putt at the seventh.
After parring the next three holes, he stumbled to a bogey at the 11th after hitting his drive into a bunker, but he got back to 4-under by rolling in a 13-foot birdie putt at the 13th.
He then moved further away from the pack with a 10-foot eagle putt at the par-5 16th and a 19-foot birdie effort at the 17th before parring the last to head into the clubhouse with the lead.
"Obviously, any time you go low at Bay Hill it's a bonus I think," said Rose. "It was definitely a golf course today that you had to go out and play well. You could not fake a round. Not everything was perfect, I have to say, but the putter was really, really, really hot, and those are very fun days when that happens."
Huh, meanwhile, opened a stellar front nine by chipping in from 13 yards out at the 10th for a birdie.
He followed that with a 14-foot birdie putt at the 12th, and then hit the turn at 5-under following three straight birdies starting at the 16th, which included a pair of lengthy putts from beyond 25 feet.
He cooled off with four consecutive pars before chipping in again from 19 yards at the fifth to get within a stroke of the lead.
But he would get no closer and closed his round by 2-putting for bogey at the last to fall back to 5-under for the day.
NOTES: Woods is seeking his record-tying eighth victory at this event. Sam Snead is the only other player to win a single event eight times, having won the Greater Greensboro Open on eight separate occasions from 1936-65 ... Woods can take the world No. 1 ranking for the first time since October 2010 with a win this week ... Huh has missed four cuts in eight starts this season and has finished a tournament no better than 18th place.