By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A year ago, Justin Rose ranked 128th in putting. This year, he's 127th -- but you wouldn't know it from how he putted Thursday at Bay Hill.
Rose had just 25 putts on his way to a 7-under 65 to take the early lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. Among them, he went 17-for-17 on everything 15 feet and in.
"That's been the error of my game since June last year," Rose said. "Today was probably the first real hot day I've had with the blade in a long, long time."
Still, even Rose was surprised he shot 65, racking up six birdies, an eagle and one bogey on the day.
But it's clear the work he has put in with putting coach David Orr is paying off. It's all been about learning his tendancies and making sure he has the right flat stick in his hand.
Rose tried a new putter at the beginning of the year but switched back his TaylorMade 200 putter beginning the last two rounds at The Honda Classic and hasn't switched since.
The result? Rose tied for fourth at PGA National and a week later finished eighth at Doral.
That's not to say the rest of Rose's game wasn't sharp. Though he hit just seven fairways, most of his misses weren't off by much. Rose's coach, Sean Foley, also said Rose has hit it as good as he's ever seen him hit it the last few weeks.
He also hit 13 greens and gave himself plenty of looks at birdies with seven approach shots to 15 feet or closer and that has Rose feeling as good as anything.
"We all know it's about consistency and that's what I'm still working toward," he said. "It's just fun to know that I obviously can do it, and I take a lot of confidence from that."