Orlando, Fla. — Fred Couples made four birdies in his opening six holes, shot 5-under 65, and golf finally felt fun. Tiger Woods couldn't hit the green with a wedge, struggled to shoot even par, and he finally looked human.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational delivered a few surprises Thursday, none bigger than the 48-year-old Couples' booming tee shots, taking only 23 putts and finishing atop the leaderboard with J.J. Henry.
In three previous trips to Bay Hill, Henry never had done better than 71. He played under warm sunshine without a bogey, making four birdie putts outside 15 feet.
Couples and Henry were a stroke ahead of defending champion Vijay Singh, Lee Westwood, Tom Lehman and Lucas Glover, who got a pep talk from friends to quit being so hard on himself. Despite consecutive bogeys, Glover kept his cool and ended a streak of eight consecutive rounds without breaking 70.
For Couples, it was his best score at Bay Hill since a 63 in 1992, the year he won this tournament and was No. 1 in the world.
Woods is the world's No. 1 player now, having won every tournament he has played since September. It sure didn't look that way after a birdie on the opening hole. He missed one green with a pitching wedge, another green with a sand wedge, and settled for a 70 that left him five shots behind, but not in awful shape. Phil Mickelson opened with a 72.