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 tied for the lead with J.J. Henry.
"This doesn't make me the guy to beat," Couples said. "If I can play like that, it makes it a lot easier. When you birdie four out of the first six holes, there's not much that can bother you."
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In three previous trips to Bay Hill, Henry had never done better than 71. He played under warm sunshine without a bogey, making four birdie putts outside 15 feet. "I feel like I've been close," he said. "And today, finally, everything clicked."
They were a stroke ahead of defending champion Vijay Singh, Lee Westwood, Tom Lehman and Lucas Glover.
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 had to settle for a 70 that left him five shots behind.
He didn't make a lot of putts, and Woods attributed that to the each green having a different speed.
But he took some of the blame.
"You had to make adjustments on the fly," he said. "It would have helped if I hit more greens. I never gave myself a chance to make putts. I missed two greens with a pitching wedge and a sand wedge. I don't ever do that."
Woods headed home to sort it out, not overly bothered by his worst start since the Deutsche Bank Championship, which was the last time he failed to win. Besides, only 33 players broke par. Phil Mickelson opened with a 72.
Playing aggressively with a driver he could trust, Couples rarely had more than wedge into the green, and the suspect condition of the putting surfaces -- they are recovering from a worm disease -- didn't bother him in the least.
"I'm not saying they're bad," Couples said. "But I think I'm a good putter when they're not ideal."
After hitting some 30 yards over the green on the par-3 14th and saving par, the guy once known as "Boom Boom" ripped another tee shot over the corner on the 15th for a wedge into about 10 feet for his fourth birdie. His only bogey came on the par-3 17th with a shot into the bleachers.
EUROPEAN TOUR, at Jeju Island, South Korea -- Finland's Mikko Ilonen and Australia's Tony Carolan shot 5-under 67s to share the lead in the inaugural Ballantine's Championship. American Anthony Kim was at 68.