ORLANDO, Fla. — Anthony Kim and Ryan Moore had aces, Charlie Wi had the finishing flourish, and Jason Dufner was a picture of steady progress.
Birdies on two of his final three holes lifted Wi’s name to the top of the Arnold Palmer Invitational leaderboard, carding a 6-under-par 66 that gave him a two-shot advantage over his nearest pursuers as the morning groups finished at Bay Hill.
Wi had predicted his score might not hold up and he was right, as Dufner came through with the afternoon groups to post an impressive round ending with a duplicate 66. Dufner had just one bogey for the round and an eagle on the par-5 16th.
“I’ve never really done well here,” said Wi, whose previous work at Bay Hill has been last year’s tie for 24th, two missed cuts and a withdrawal.
“If I had known (I’d be) a couple under today before I teed off, I would have been very pleased. to shoot 66 is a pleasant surprise.”
Nick Watney led the chase pack after an opening 68. Tiger Woods was among seven players another stroke back at 3 under, walking away with a ho-hum 69 that included solid ball-striking but also a pair of three-putt bogeys.
“Could have shot 5 under par without hitting it real close,” said Woods, who added that he hardly gave any thought to his sore Achilles.
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “I’ve been getting treatment. Everything’s good. No swelling.”
Justin Rose, winner at Doral two weeks ago, also was among the group at 3 under along with Players Championship titleholder K.J. Choi, Sean O’Hair, Jimmy Walker, Bubba Watson and Kim.
Kim aced Bay Hill’s 203-yard 17th hole, finding the range with a 5-iron.
Puyallup native Moore carded a hole-in-one at No. 7 from 203 yards away with a 5-iron. Moore, however, was only able to get in at 1-under 71.
Phil Mickelson opened with a 1-over 73.
• Top-ranked Yani Tseng shot a 5-under 67 for a share of the first-round lead with Ji Young Oh in the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif. Suzann Pettersen, Jiyai Shin, Brittany Lincicome, Jennifer Johnson and Caroline Hedwall were a stroke back
• Ireland’s Damien McGrane opened with a 7-under 65 to lead the Hassan II Trophy in Agadir, Morocco, by two strokes, while England’s Robert Rock lost a chance to play in his first Masters by taking an 11 on the fourth hole.