It's shaping up to be a stellar weekend of golf as Henrik Stenson opened with an 8-under to sit on top of a leaderboard filled with big names. After last week's missed cut at the Valspar, Stenson was his usual surgical self from tee to green and got hot with his putter, gaining 3.73 shots on the green. Stenson leads a pair of rookies by one shot, 22-year-old rookie Aaron Wise and 26-year-old Talor Gooch. Wise is one of the brightest young players on the PGA Tour and has already notched three top 17's in his rookie year. Gooch set the record for most in a single round at Bay Hill. Full scores
Despite an out-of-bounds tee shot that led to a double bogey, Tiger Woods fired a 4-under 68 and sits in t7th place. Woods quelled any lingering concerns on his short game off tight lies, putting on a pitching exhibition. Woods gained an obscene 3.8 shots around the greens, regularly recovering from short sided misses.
Woods also dominated the par 5s, birdieing all four of Bay Hill's 3-shotters. His performance on the par 5s and around the greens signal Woods’ ability to "score" back. He got the most out of a round where he struggled with the driver and lost two shots to a penalty. It feels odd to say this, but I expect Tiger to vie for the win this weekend, and he looks like one of the best players in the world. Tiger will tee off this afternoon at 1:08 pm EST on Golf Channel and make it a tough choice between golf and March Madness.
Midway through his round, Vegas Oddsmakers had seen enough to bump Tiger's odds down again, making him the favorite at this year's Masters. Tiger's odds click in at 8 to 1, slightly better than the world's top-ranked Dustin Johnson at 9 to 1.
The other big names lurking
Other than Stenson and Tiger, there are a handful of stars that find themselves squarely in the hunt with three rounds left.
The event's honorary host, Rickie Fowler, fired a 5-under 67 to sit in a tie for fourth with Jimmy Walker, who holed out for eagle on his final hole.
Fresh off his runner-up finish at last week's Valspar, Patrick Reed posted a 4-under 68.
After being 4-over through six holes, Justin Rose surged back into contention with seven birdies in the final 12 to finish -3.
Joining Rose at 3-under is Rory McIlroy, whose putter showed up to the party. His stellar round was spoiled by an out of bounds tee shot on the 18th that led to a double bogey and a 3-under 69.
In his first round since the Waste Management, Hideki Matsuyama fired a 2-under-par 70 and shows no ill effects of the wrist injury that sidelined him.
Game of the week: Banker
In the latest edition of game of the week, Kyle Nathan explains Banker, a game that can be played with three or more players and with or without handicaps. It's a game with simple rules that can escalate quickly. Learn more about Banker here.
On the Skillet: Cal Club's par-4 5th
This week's architectural deep dive takes a look at the short par-4 5th hole at Cal Club. The genius design makes the most of a narrow corridor to deliver a hole packed with options and angles. Read more about the par-4 5th here.
All USGA events except the U.S. Open will be commercial-free thanks to Rolex.
The Palmer cup teams were announced.
Choi and Icher lead the LPGA Founders Cup through one round.
If you missed it, check out our latest podcast with Zac Blair, we talk about Northern California golf, best golf cities and he tells some Jack Nicklaus stories.