Tiger Woods showed his Valspar Championship performance was no aberration on Day 1 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, turning in a four-under 68. It was far from a flawless display, as his driving issues reared their ugly head throughout the day, manifesting in a double on the card. Conversely, Woods continued to show signs of progress, most evident in his play on par 5s. The 14-time major winner came into the API ranked 179th in par-5 scoring, mostly a byproduct of the aforementioned tee-ball problems. But Woods was four under on Bay Hill's par 5s, and also added a 70-foot bomb on the par-3 seventh (his 16th hole of the day) to briefly take the lead.
Though Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau are currently lighting up Bay Hill (both are nine under halfway through their second rounds), Woods remains in good position to make some noise heading into the weekend. The 42-year-old tees off at 1:08 PM ET today, and we'll be here throughout the afternoon to keep you updated on all things Tiger.
(All times ET)
5:55 PM: Wrap-up: Driving issues continue to be the bane of Tiger's existence, ranking T-93 in accuracy and 101st in strokes gained: off-the-tee heading into the weekend. Play that puts his approach game in a corner, and parallels to few birdie chances. At seven shots behind and at T-17, will need for something wacky to happen to get into contention. Still, if he can find some semblance of consistency with the driver the next two days before heading to Augusta, consider the weekend a win for Tiger.
5:45 PM: Following a 320-yard 3-wood, Tiger funnels his approach on the final hole to 15 feet. The birdie putt...JUST lips out, so close that Woods drops to his knees. That's an even 72 for Tiger, featuring a nice bounce back on his final side.
5:40 PM: On the final hole, Tiger takes the 3-wood and pummels it down the fairway. One of the more impressive tee shots of the afternoon.
5:34 PM: Great shot from Woods, from the green runs slightly away on the 17th, pushing Tiger's ball to the back fringe. Man got robbed.
Tiger gives it a good run, but the ball doesn't break as far left as Woods believed. Tap-in par as he heads to the final hole.
5:25 PM: Oooh. Eagle attempt just slides by. Would have put Tiger within shouting distance of the leaders at 11 under. Still, it's a bird, and he's back to even for the day.
5:16 PM: From the thick, gnarly right-hand rough, Woods takes an 8-iron from 188 yards out, giving it all he's got...and lands it just past the pin, scooting towards the back fringe. He's got about 20 feet for an eagle to get things to red figures for the day. Hands-down the best shot of the round.
5:09 PM: Woods pulls out the driver on the par-5 16th, but loses it to the right. Appears to get caught up in the trees and falls into the rough. The 16th is the easiest hole on the course, Tiger desperately needs a four on the card.
5:06 PM: From an absolutely buried lie against the lip, Woods somehow hacks it out of the bunker, gets it within 25 feet. Pretty damn good shot from that mess. Better yet? He drains the putt. As a colleague Mike Johnson notes, this has been the Tiger of old days: turning a 76 into something workable.
4:57 PM: Woods shortsides himself once again, this time dumping his approach into the bunker. Sometimes you just don't have it, folks.
4:52 PM: Pretty nice tee shot on the par-4 15th, one of the harder holes at Bay Hill. Slides just off the fairway into the left-hand first cut, nothing wrong with that.
4:50 PM: Not the best of lags, but he cleans up the leftover three or four feet for par, still one under on the back.
4:35 PM: At the par-3 14th, Tiger leaves his approach 50 feet or so short of the pin. Going to need that scrambling agility once again to save par.
4:29 PM: No bones about it, failed opportunity with the second shot. From 100 yards out, Woods can't find the putting surface.
From about 25 feet and over a ridge, Woods leaves his birdie attempt a foot outside the hole. It's a par, but disappointing one.
4:20 PM: Tiger goes with an iron off the tee and finds the short stuff again. Still early in the proceedings, yet has appeared to turn the corner on the back.
4:16 PM: Pretty nice effort with the lag, giving Tiger a tap-in birdie. Back to three under for the tournament. If he can get it to five by the end of the day, a chance to make some noise on the weekend.
4:10 PM: Woods' second at the 12th just sneaks off the back. Long eagle putt awaits, but does have a good opportunity to get his first red number of the day.
4:03 PM: Tiger takes out the "SmokeWagon" and finds the fairway, putting himself in position to get home in two. It's about time; before the shot, Woods owned a -2.642 strokes gained: off-the-mark for the week, ranking 107th in the field.
4:00 PM: No go on the birdie, but nothing wrong with a par on No. 11. Par 5 ahead to get things turned around.
3:53 PM: One of the better shots of the day for Woods, his approach coming to rest about 15 feet from one of the more demanding pins on the course. Good chance to get one back on the field.
3:48 PM: Long iron off the tee on the 11th for Woods, and he splits the fairway. Second-hardest hole on the course, so should be in good position to keep the damage to a minimum.
3:44 PM: Putt turns just short of the hole. It's a par, but needs to start making birds if he hopes to be in contention this weekend.
3:40 PM: Hey now, some life out of Tiger. Puts his shot from the sand to about pin high. Has a 15-footer or so for his first bird.
3:33 PM: Back not off to a favorable start, as Woods' drive, with an iron, finds the bunker. Still three shots clear of the projected cut, but clearly is out of sorts today.
3:25 PM: Wheels are starting to come off. From 150 yards out, Woods puts his approach nowhere close to the pin. Facing a 60-footer, he blows that off the green, missing the 12-foot comebacker from the fringe. That's a bogey for Tiger, making the turn in two over. He's now two under for the event, nine shots back.
3:15 PM: One of the better drives of the day from Tiger at the ninth, just trickling into the first cut. Not quite the shape (slight fade) the follow calls for, but it will work.
3:10 PM: Coming off a slope, Tiger's birdie attempt from 20 feet catches the lip. Worse, bit of meat left on this bone for par.
And it just slips in. Seventh consecutive par for Woods, eight back of Stenson.
3:01 PM: Pretty nice iron strike from Woods, one that lands about six feet past the pin and rolls into the back fringe. Won't be easy to convert from there, yet a nice shot nevertheless.
2:55 PM: Serviceable lag from Woods, makes his sixth par of the afternoon. Breaks out an iron from the tee off the eighth. He finds the fairway, but will have a long approach on one of Bay Hill's more daunting holes.
2:48 PM: Woods' approach on the par-3 seventh finds the left side of the green, safely on put a mile away from the right-side pin. Of course, the seventh was the scene of yesterday's 70-foot bomb, so maybe we'll see Tiger replicate that magic.
2:44 PM: Tiger's birdie putt doesn't come close, missing towards the left. That's even on both par 5s; save for yesterday's performance (four under on the par 5s), the long holes continue to be a struggle for Tiger.
2:40 PM: Following a lay-up, Woods puts his approach to about 12 feet. Good chance to get back to even on the day.
2:30 PM: That was a "Don't get wet" swing from Woods, blowing his drive on the dogleg par-5 sixth into the right-side bunker. Likely means a lay-up, although few have been able to go for the green in two today.
2:23 PM: Tiger's length putt just scoots by. Another par for Woods with a par 5 coming up.
2:15 PM: Woods finds his first green of the day at the fifth, but a length birdie awaits. For what it's worth, scoring has been batter on the back this week, so no need for worry just yet.
2:08 PM: Not the best of approaches for Tiger, and his ball falls to stick. and rolls to the back of the fringe. The birdie attempt rolls past, unable to card bird on the fourth easiest hole on the course.
2:00 PM: In some thick stuff, Woods manages to advance his ball pretty far up the fairway, leaving 80 or so yards left for his third. Still in okay shape to make bird.
1:54 PM: Perhaps the most intense club slam of his latest comeback, as Woods sends his drive flying right. It gets an okay bounce and stays in after flirting with OB. We mentioned it earlier this week, but his driving performance does not bode well for the Masters.
1:51 PM: Bit of a knee-knocker, but he converts for his second consecutive open-a-down. One over on the day, but it could very well be three.
1:47 PM: From about 25 yards deep, puts its to within five-six feet. About as good as he could've done from there.
1:45 PM: Only three holes in, but Woods has looked out of sorts so far. Flares his approach on the third hole into the gallery, another short-sided position. If he wants to make a run at Stenson and Bryson, needs to right the ship, and in a hurry.
1:39 PM: Thanks to the stinger, Tiger finds his first fairway of the day at No. 3. Hell of an improvement from yesterday's feats on the third, when his ball went O.B. with a wood.
1:31 PM: From a precarious spot, Woods pulls off a fantastic wedge shot, leaving a tap-in par. The one consistent throughout this latest comeback has been his phenomenal short game, a sentiment that's on full display through 20 holes at Bay Hill.
1:27 PM: Woods' tee shot on the par-3 second falls short, leaving another tough up-and-down ahead. Not quite the auspicious start Tiger and his fans were hoping for Friday.
1:21 PM: Tiger's putt from the fringe doesn't come close, giving him a bogey at the first. Meanwhile, playing partner Hideki Matsuyama holes out from the bunker, both men are now at three under.
1:16 PM: Tiger's tee shot was in jail, forcing a sideways punch. From over 200 out, Woods gets the approach just over the front bunker. Will have a chance, albeit from the fringe, to save par.
1:08 PM: Tiger goes with an iron off the 448-yard first hole and...oh my...it's a mean duck hook into the trees. Woods will be sent scrambling out of the gate.
12:50 PM: Stenson's not the only one who went low, as Bryson DeChambeau is five under for the day, 10 under for the tournament heading into the 18th. There's a lot of Masters narratives three weeks before Augusta National, but mark DeChambeau as a viable dark horse.
12:30 PM: As well as Tiger played on Thursday, he's going to need a Herculean effort to get within shouting distance of Henrik Stenson, who owns a three-shot lead at 11 under heading into the last hole. The Iceman switched putters this week and has been lighting Bay Hill on fire, needing just 20 putts in his round of 64 on Thursday.