Date: March 27, 2009
Author: Sportal and PA Sport

Appleby starts well

Tiger Woods got his putter working at Bay Hill on Thursday as he began the defence of his Arnold Palmer Invitational title in Orlando, while Australian Stuart Appleby also started well to be amongst the leaders after the opening round. Appleby shot four birdies and just one bogey on his way to a three-under-par round of 67, which has him in a tie for fourth place two shots off the pace. Mathew Goggin, John Senden and James Nitties all had even-par rounds, while Robert Allenby and Nick O&aposhern are a further shot back at one-over. Peter Lonard and Adam Scott struggled their way to two-over, while Aaron Baddeley (+5) and Rod Pampling (+8) will struggle to make to the cut. But spare a thought for Jason Day, who withdrew after nine holes having complained of dizziness and nausea. Woods overcame wayward driving off the tee by needing just 24 putts at Bay Hill to end the day with a two-under-par 68, three shots back on the first-round lead at the par-70, 7,239-yard course held by Jason Gore, who fired an opening 65 at the end of the day. Woods, making his third start of the year following his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery last summer and coming off a tie for ninth at Doral in the WGC-CA Championship two weeks ago, got off to a flying start by chipping in at the first from 33 yards. A double-bogey seven at the sixth hole began a mid-round wobble which saw him stuck behind trees from consecutive tee shots at the eighth and ninth. Both times Wood scrambled for par before making four birdies in a row between the 11th and 14th holes, even after Woods threw down his driver at the 12th following yet another errant tee shot. Woods bogeyed the 17th but was pleased with the way he had turned his day around. “I had some trouble on the front nine, but the back nine I started hitting it better and made some putts and that&aposs when I got on the board,” Woods said. “I&aposve just to keep doing what I&aposm doing, try and put the ball in play. I didn&apost do that today but I&aposm going to have to do that tomorrow and come the weekend.” “The golf is going to get even more dried out and I&aposm going to have to try and get some birdies early with very little wind.” Also in a seven-way tie for 10th on two under were Sweden&aposs Daniel Chopra and Rocco Mediate, Woods&apos US Open play-off rival at the world No.1&aposs final event of his 2008 campaign at Torrey Pines. While Gore brought up the rear in one of the last groups out and finished with a flourish with three birdies in his last four holes, Tim Herron, the 1999 champion, and Jeff Overton shot 66s early in the day when conditions were hampered by some stiff breezes. Between them and Woods&apos group lie six players on three under, including veteran former US Open champion Lee Janzen, like Mediate playing on a sponsors&apos exemption, and the in-form Nick Watney, both of the USA. Fellow Americans Skip Kendall, Hunter Mahan and Mark Wilson as well as Appleby shot 67s. Meanwhile, at the Open de Andalucia de Golf in Spain, Chris Doak fired a six-under-par 66 to grab the lead after the opening day. Matthew Millar leads the Australian contingent in a tie for 18th at two-under, while Michael Curtain (+3) and Wade Ormsby (+5) will need a massive improvement if they are to make the cut.