March 23 2012
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ORLANDO -- Yes, Tiger Woods is back in his familiar spot on top of the leaderboard at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
The six-time champion is tied with Charlie Wi at 10 under, two strokes ahead of Graeme McDowell and Jason Dufner, and four up on Justin Rose.
But Rose came to Bay Hill this year with some added confidence. Not only did he tie for third here last year, the Englishman won the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship two weeks ago at Doral.
"There's a lot of areas in my game I can rely on right now and
hitting the ball quite well this week for the most part," Rose
acknowledged. "Just the putter has not warmed up yet. Hopefully if
that does happen on the weekend, I can put a run together.
"This golf course, it's not the easiest. Especially it's not easy to play with a lead out here, so being a few back going into the weekend is not a big deal. And there's plenty of water out there and trouble and mistakes to make. You just have to hang in there."
A year ago, Rose stood 30th when he made the turn on Sunday. He vaulted up the leaderboard with a closing 31, though, so he knows it can be done.
"The back nine was playing really, really tough and ended up finishing third and at one point felt like I could win it," Rose said. "That's a pretty good lesson to learn; that knowing on this golf course, you're never really out of it."
On Friday, Rose didn't have his best stuff, either, but he still
managed to post his second straight 69. He birdied four straight on
the front nine -- as did Woods in the group ahead -- to get to 7
under but consecutive bogeys at Nos. 8 and 9 killed his momentum.
"From that point on it was a struggle for the rest of the day," Rose admitted. "I struggled, made a couple nice putts on the front nine but on the back nine I didn't hit another good putt to be honest with you. I hit every green pretty much on the back side and hit a good shot into 16 to make a two-putt birdie.
"But you know, within touch for the weekend. Obviously Tiger has gone out and shot 10 under which is good golf, and he's pretty good from the front. But for the most part, though, I'm where you want to be after two days."