Woods and Rose in perfect harmony at the Arnold Palmer
00:43 GMT, 23 March 2012
The last time they played in the same
tournament in Florida – the WGC-Cadillac Championship – Justin Rose
walked off with the trophy and Tiger Woods limped off with a damaged
Two weeks on, their fates on Thursday were aligned rather than diametrically opposed in the Arnold Palmer
Invitational first round here at Bay Hill.
All smiles: Tiger Woods
Rose posted another fine score to continue his rich vein of form, while Woods matched him stroke for stroke.
That the driver is now the straightest club in Woods's bag still takes getting used to, but here was yet more convincing evidence the weapon that has plagued him for most of his career has become his best friend.
His short irons were average and his putting erratic, with a couple of ugly three putts offset by the holing of two long ones for birdies. But it's a clear sign he's close to his best when a round he describes as one where nothing much happened left him looking up at just a handful of players on the leaderboard.
As for his health, Woods said: 'I'm feeling good. I've been getting treatment and there's no swelling. If I can keep it that way, everything will be great.'
Alongside him after also shooting 69 was Rose. He is one of the few players competing in all four tournaments on the Florida swing and is keen to judge it as a body of work.
Power play: Justin Rose
With three rounds left, it is beginning to look like one he will always want to recall. With one win and a fifth place already, this was his eighth round under 70 out of the 13 he has played as the path towards the Masters in a fortnight continues to run smoothly.
It was hard not to contrast the buoyant Rose who sprinted into the recorder's hut with the crestfallen figure who left this tournament at the halfway stage two years ago, devastated at missing out on Augusta.
'Experiences like that are always good to recall because they add a bit of perspective to what I am experiencing,' he said. 'But it's also important to enjoy it when you're playing like I am now.'
Rose and Woods finished the day in tied fourth, with Americans Charlie Wi and Jason Dufner leading the way after fine rounds of 66.
England's Brian Davis shot a useful 70 while Ian Poulter and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell were level par after 15 and 14 holes respectively.