Tiger stumbles, McIlroy leads at Bay Hill

Woods shot an opening round of 68 to sit one shot behind Jimmy Walker on four under par

But the man in the spotlight once again was Woods - back at one of his favourite events and near the top of the leaderboard after carding a rock solid four-under 68 to share seventh with compatriot Patrick Reed and South Korean An Byeong-hun.

And while he's made a positive start at Bay Hill, he faces stiff competition from one of the all-time greats.

The 14-time major victor hit six birdies and three bogeys to finish on seven under overall.

And it is DeChambeau who represents Stenson's closest challenger, the American sitting one stroke back following an even-par 72.

Woods did not have his best stuff coming in on the front side at Bay Hill.

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DeChambeau cancelled out a blemish at the third with a two-putt gain at the next, as Stenson bounced back from a bogey at the eighth to card a 30-foot birdie at the ninth and reach the turn tied for the lead. "I'm not quite as sort of stiff and wooden, just a couple little things and basically just went back to a length and a sort of feel I have had success with". Tiger birdied a third of the holes Saturday, including a 12-footer on the final green that almost blew the roof off the place. In some respects, so is Woods.

"That was a nice one to get".

Now he is at No. 149, which sounds good only when considering that he was No. 1,199 five tournaments ago.

Woods made another bold play on the par-5 16th, this time with his ball near the lip of a bunker.

Woods seems to produce a SportsCenter highlight daily. Felt a little bit more in control of my game. Day was explaining the difference when he looked over to the right at a TV screen showing - who else? And on the final hole, a 12-foot birdie putt was punctuated by an enthusiastic fist pump to end his day.

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Day and Hideki Matsuyama, out since Phoenix with a wrist injury, will play with Woods over the next few days.

"Henrik has played great", McIlroy said.

In chilly, challenging conditions early Thursday, Woods began his round on the 10th hole.

"(Woods) is the reason why we as youngsters have all become really, really good", DeChambeau said. "They're all out there for him. Normally I wouldn't have taken that big a swing from that short of distance, but I was just afraid that if my shaft hit that I might just leave it right there in that same spot". What might be more eerie is walking off the 18th green on Sunday without seeing Palmer.

Rose's playing partner Woods also clawed his way back into the tournament with a 69 and at seven under lurks ominously. I wasn't going to mess with anything left of that flag. "And I'm going to miss those times, for sure".

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