Stenson holds one-shot lead at Bay Hill, Woods five back

Glen Norman
March 19, 2018

MASTERS favourite Tiger woods will need one of his vintage performances at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Monday morning if he is to break a US PGA Tour win drought of nearly five years.

Stenson, who had chances to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational two of the last three years, fought through a rugged stretch with par saves and made three birdies after the turn for a 3-under 69 on Friday.

Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau are tied for the lead at 11 under.

Woods was a shot further back after two birdies in his last seven holes saw the 14-time major champion finish where he began.

McIlroy tees off with Rose at 2:10 p.m., with Stenson and DeChambeau to follow at 2:20 p.m., setting off a final round unlikely to disappoint given the sum of its parts.

The 2016 Open Championship victor, Stenson is among eight major winners in the top 20 - headlined by Tiger Woods - and had a chance to win at Bay Hill in both 2015 and 2016.

Four-time major victor Rory McIlroy was set to match Walker and Fowler but closed with a double-bogey to finish on 69.The day's electricity came from Woods, the 42-year-old superstar who has not won a major since the 2008 US Open and hasn't captured any title since the 2013 World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational.

"A lot of people are excited about how Tiger's starting to show signs in the right direction, and I think it's going to be a lot of fun over the next two days", Day said. "It's just sometimes a kick here, a break here and that's just what happens".

Having started on the 10th in his second round, McIlroy picked up birdies on the 13th and 15th but then suffered back-to-back bogeys on the first and second. It was his best opening round at Bay Hill since 2009, when he won his sixth of eight API titles.

The co-leaders had a little separation over the morning wave.

American Talor Gooch was third on 135 with South Korean An Byeong Hun fourth on 136 and American Charley Hoffman another stroke adrift. Rickie Fowler (71), Billy Horschel (70) and Luke List (67) were five shots behind.

McIlroy's putting was noticeably better than in recent weeks and the four-time major victor told Sky Sports: "That's been a huge improvement over the first two days". 16 and 18, including hitting his approach shot on the final hole within feet of the cup.

However, McIlroy will definitely have something to say about that if he can keep improving himself.

Three weeks before the start of the Masters, the year's first major tournament, Woods showed none of the back pain that sidelined him most of the past two seasons.

Temperatures were around 50 when he teed off, and it was clear Stenson has been gone from Sweden too long, living in Dubai and more recently in Orlando.

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