Tiger Woods in the Hunt at Arnold Palmer Invitational: A Fan’s Take

Jason Dufner and Charlie Wi lead after the first round of the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational, with a bevy of great players right on their heels.

Tiger Woods in 2007 form
Wikimedia Commons

One of those players is Tiger Woods, who shot a first round score of three under 69 to put him three shots out of the lead. Tiger looked solid with both the driver and the irons all day, hitting nearly 80% of greens in regulation. Unfortunately, though, even though many of the shots were solid Tiger didn't leave himself easy birdie opportunities and had to scratch all day to make a few.

The main problem with this is that Tiger has been doing this over the past several weeks now, and still can't seem to get his game to the point where he can consistently shoot lower scores. Woods will need to hit better approach shots moving forward if he wants to have any chance of winning this week's event or any other event in 2012 for that matter.

Even though Dufner and Wi are tied atop the leaderboard after Thursday, I wouldn't look too much into it. Both players have been at or near the top of the leaderboard on separate occasions on the PGA Tour this year and choked their way out of a win, and I wouldn't be surprised if they took a step back on Friday and allowed other players to surpass them.

One of those players that could do just that is Bubba Watson, who shot a 69 along with Tiger Woods. Aside from a bad bogey on a par 5 Watson looked solid throughout the entire day, and both his length and shot-shaping ability give him a unique edge at this event. I would expect him to shoot another solid round on Friday to put himself near or at the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend. Another player to watch out for on Friday is Justin Rose, who also shot a 69. Rose got off to a slow start with a bogey on his second hole but really seemed to catch fire on the back nine with three birdies over a four hole stretch.

Among the other notables, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els finished at -1 overall, Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia even, and Phil Mickelson and Webb Simpson at +1.

Ryan Kekoufski is a scratch golfer who has both played and watched the sport for well over a decade. He covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, and currently resides in Virginia.

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