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Tiger looks for ninth win at Bay Hill

Tiger looks for ninth win at Bay Hill

A record eight-time victor of the Palmer event, Woods sits three-under-par through nine holes and is tied atop the leaderboard with fellow American Bill Hurley. He's only 11 months removed from spinal fusion surgery, a fourth procedure on his back, and just six months from starting to hit golf balls again afterward. There will be thousands trying to bridge the gap to tip off of the tourney and Woods at Bay Hill is the flawless way to do it. "The narrative has completely flipped from how you guys ask me questions, and 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".

Woods starts on the back 9 with Hideki and Day, who have both played with him in the past.

So too Rory McIlroy, who opened with a 69.

That was followed by a birdie at six and another at seven when he rolled in a monster 71-foot putt that brought a roar from the gallery.

Woods shares second alongside Patrick Reed and Byeong Hun An (both 68), while two-time major victor Zach Johnson (69) headlines a tie for fifth one shot back.

He then holed a 10-foot par putt at the last to round off another excellent day's work in the countdown to the Masters, for which his odds have plummeted in recent weeks.

McDowell's home comforts - he lives in the area, at Lake Nona where he also has a successful restaurant - and familiarity with Bay Hill have ensured some good performances in the past, including two runner-up finishes. I know where to miss it, I don't have to really think that much and just going out there and doing it. A win this week would give him 80 in his career, just two shy of all-time leader Sam Snead.

He started out brilliantly with three birdies on the back nine of the course (Woods' front nine of the day as he started his round on the 10th tee).

Unfortunately for Shane Lowry, the 18th inflicted a harsher penalty.

"Tiger was very impressive today; the few times he short-sided himself he saved par and he took advantage of the par 5s", Day said.

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