Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Tiger Woods banishes first day blues

Tiger Woods yesterday bounced back from his worst opening round at Bay Hill since 1999 in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Woods has won six times at Bay Hill but his 73 on Thursday was his highest first-day score in the tournament in 12 years.

However, Woods was in far better form yesterday, carding a four-under par 68 to improve to three under overall.

That was still five behind clubhouse leader Spencer Levin, who added a 70 to his opening 66, but marked a step in the right direction with the first major of the year, the US Masters, approaching.

“I had a hard time getting the ball to the hole today,” Woods said after a round of five birdies and just one bogey.

“I was very surprised how slow these things (the greens) were today. They must have soaked them pretty good last night because balls were holding, they were spinning back a little bit, very different than what we had yesterday.

“We are trying to build towards the first major and that's kind of how my game is. It's building and it's coming.”

Spain's Sergio Garcia was alongside Woods on three under, after his 68.

Garcia has slumped to 82nd in the world but is slowly showing signs of his best form.

He said: “I'm able to do a lot of things better than I've been doing lately. It's a work in progress. It feels better but it's still not finished.”

Meanwhile, Dutchman Maarten Lafeber (65), Dane Jeppe Huldahl (66) and Swedish rookie Rikard Karlberg (67) share the lead at eight-under-par in the Andalucian Open at Malaga.

Paul McGinley carded a 71 and was Irish player to make the cut, right on the one-under-par mark.

“The course is playing great and I love the way it's set-up because it's firm and bouncy, and if you do miss the fairway you are only coming out of inch high rough from where you get flyers into the rock-hard greens,” he admitted.

No other Irish competitor made it through to the weekend. Darren Clarke carded a 72 for a one-over par total — the same as Damien McGrane who triple-bogeyed the par three, 11th hole before signing for a 71.

Michael Hoey (71) was at two-over-par and Gareth Maybin was first out on day two and also first to miss the cut in bogeying his closing four holes in a 77 for a five-over-par score.

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