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Tiger lurks 3 behind Gore

FIVE-TIME champion Tiger Woods embarked on a sizzling run of four consecutive birdies after the turn to storm into contention at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Florida, on Thursday.

Playing only his third event of the year after being sidelined by knee injury for eight months, the American world No. 1 fired a two-under 68 in the opening round at Bay Hill Club.

Woods mixed five birdies with one bogey and a double-bogey, at the par-five sixth, to end a blustery day three strokes behind pacesetting compatriot Jason Gore.

"I held it together with some good up-and-downs toward the end of the front nine and on the back nine, I started hitting better," the 33-year-old Woods told reporters. "I made some putts and consequently I got it under par."

Defending champion at Bay Hill, Woods is bidding for a record sixth victory at the PGA Tour event hosted by Palmer.

After struggling with his putter last week on his way to a tie for ninth in the WGC-CA Championship at Doral, he was delighted to regain his touch on the greens.

"I just scored," said Woods, who shut down his 2008 campaign after winning the US Open in June to have reconstructive knee surgery.

After holing out with a wedge from 33 yards to birdie the par-four first, Woods pulled his tee shot left into water to run up a double-bogey seven at the sixth.

Out in one-over-par 36, he rattled up four birdies in a row from the 11th before dropping another shot at the par-three 17th, where he missed the green to the left off the tee.

Gore, playing this week on a sponsor's exemption, birdied three of the last four holes to grab a one-stroke lead over fellow Americans Tim Herron and Jeff Overton.

American Kenny Perry, who claimed the 2005 title at Bay Hill, and British Open champion Padraig Harrington opened with 70s while 2007 winner Vijay Singh of Fiji battled to a 74.

Ryo Ishikawa, the 17-year-old from Japan, hit two balls in the water on the par-five sixth and made a nine on his way to a 76. Jim Furyk opened with a 78. Fred Couples had an 80.


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