Rose blooms in Orlando

3/21/2013 9:42:00 PM
Justin Rose   (Getty Images)
Justin Rose (Getty Images)
Justin Rose credited a turnaround on the greens for a strong opening round that gave him a two shot lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando.

While an eagle on the par five 16th was the highlight of the day, Rose kept it neat and tidy in his putting throughout, controlling what has been the weakness in his game.

"That's been the error of my game since June last year," Rose said after signing for a seven under par 65 Bay Hill Club & Lodge.

"Today was probably the first real hot day I've had with the blade in a long, long time."

Rose separated himself from a chasing pack that included defending champion Tiger Woods to the back nine, making up four shots over six holes to recover from an early bogey.

He then made four birdies in a row after making the turn to pull clear.

While Rose was in no hurry to say he had put his putting problems behind him, things are certainly looking up.

"We all know it's about consistency and that's what I'm still working toward," he added.

"It's just fun to know that I obviously can do it, and I take a lot of confidence from that."

Rose watched from the clubhouse as his lead came under threat from John Huh, who was on six under after making the turn in 31 and then carding another birdie on the fifth hole, but a bogey on the ninth dropped him to two shots back.

John Rollins and Brad Fitsch shared third place with rounds of 68, but Rose would have been slightly relieved to have seen another dangerous foe - Woods - lose ground earlier on.

Woods, back on form following wins at Doral and Torrey Pines, had enjoyed a strong start to his round on the back nine and matched Rose's eagle on the 16th.

But the American, hoping to reclaim the World Number One ranking, then dropped those shots immediately with bogeys on both the 17th and 18th to finish alongside Dane Thorbjørn Olesen on three under.

"I didn't drive it well, didn't hit my irons well and didn't control my distances or trajectory well," Woods said.

He would have three straight birdies after making the turn, but then bogeyed the seventh to give another shot back.

"It's just making a key save, a key putt here and there and keeping the round going," Woods said.

"I certainly didn't play my best, but I got around and made a few good saves out there. I got a lot out of this round, and I threw away a few shots as well."

Woods' 69 had him in a ten-way tie for fifth place on a congested leaderboard.