Woods impresses with opening Arnold Palmer 69
updated 6:18 AM EDT, Fri March 23, 2012
Woods was all smiles after an opening round three-under-par 69 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
- Tiger Woods cards an impressive three-under-par 69 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational
- Woods appeared fully recovered from the ankle injury sustained in Cadillac tournament
- Charlie Wi and Jason Dufner lead the way after carding opening rounds of 66
(CNN) -- Tiger Woods showed no ill effects from his recent ankle injury, carding an impressive opening round three-under-par 69 in the Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament at Bay Hill, Florida.
The injury forced Woods to limp off during the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship just 11 days ago -- and he also missed last week's Transitions Championship.
But the former world No.1 always performs well on this course, having won the tournament six times, and he only dropped one shot, three-putting on the short 17th.
Four birdies ensured Woods ended the day just three shots off the lead, which is shared by Jason Dufner and Charlie Wi.
"For some reason the course just fits my eye," Woods told reporters. "I was just solid all day -- I drove the ball well, hit my irons decent and putted all right.
Tiger Woods withdraws from event
"I'm in a position where I can hit it again. That's something that's been missing for a while and it's all the work that coach Sean Foley and I have put together."
Woods continued: "My ankle is good. No swelling. If I can just keep it that way, everything will be great."
Dufner, who was beaten by Keegan Bradley in last year's U.S. PGA playoff and is still waiting for his first Tour win, carded an eagle and five birdies on his way to his 66.
My ankle is good. No swelling. If I can just keep it that way, everything will be great.
Meanwhile, Korean Wi enjoyed seven birdies in his six-under-par round, as he attempts to win his first tournament since victory in the 2006 Malaysian Open.
American Nick Watney lies alone in third place after a four-under-par 68, while Cadillac winner Justin Rose is amongst those who carded a 69 alongside Woods.
Meanwhile, recent Abu Dhabi winner Robert Rock's hopes of qualifying for the Masters next month are over after a disastrous opening round in the Hassan Trophy in Morocco.
Rock needed to finish in the top two to move into the world's top 50 and earn a coveted spot at the Augusta major.
But the Englishman slumped to a five-over-par 77 on the Royal Palace course, with a disastrous 11 on the par-four fourth appearing to seal his fate.
Italian teenager Matteo Manassero is the other player trying to qualify for Augusta. The 18-year-old has to win the event to line up at the Masters and a three-under 69 keeps his dream alive.
Irishman Damien McGrane carded the best round of the day, a seven-under-par 65, to lead by two strokes from Alejandro Canizares of Spain.
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