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Arnold Palmer Invitational 2013 Leaderboard: Power Ranking Title Hopefuls

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 21:  Tiger Woods plays a shot on the 16th hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 21, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Richard LangfordCorrespondent IMarch 22, 2013

There is going to be a massive jumbling of the leaderboard at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. 

After the first round, there are some impressive low scores as 14 players fired a 69 or lower on the par-72 course. 

However, a lot of the names populating the top of the leaderboard do not belong to the biggest stars, or players who have been particularly hot. 

That tells me a lot of these guys will drop off the pace as this tournament progresses. 

Take a look at the Round 1 recap and leaderboard, then we'll review the four men I feel have the best chance at winning the tournament. 

 

First Round Leaderboard—2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational 

Pos. Golfer Score
1. Justin Rose -7
2. John Huh -5 
T3. John Rollins  -4 
T3.
Brad Fritsch  -4 
T5. Charley Hoffman  -3 
T5. Ryo Ishikawa -3
T5. Tiger Woods -3
T5. Nick Watney -3
T5. Sean O'Hair -3
T5. Thorbjorn Olesen -3
T5. Bill Haas -3
T5. Jimmy Walker -3
T5. Gonzalo Fedz-Castano -3
T5. Ben Kohles -3

View the full leaderboard on PGA.com.

 

No. 4: Graeme McDowell 

Graeme McDowell had a pedestrian opening round as he wound up tied for 40th at even par. However, he is certainly not out of contention. 

McDowell has been playing excellent golf lately. In his last three tournaments, in order, he has finished in third, ninth and fifth. 

In his first round, McDowell was slightly off with his approach shots, but he was striking the ball well. I expect him to get that ironed out, and his putter is rolling nicely. 

McDowell finished second here last year, and he will work his way into contention again this year. 

 

No. 3: Jason Dufner 

Earlier this month, I was a little concerned about Jason Dufner. He  was coming off a 51st-place finish at the Honda Classic, a second-round exit at the Accenture and a missed cut in Phoenix.

Considering the consistency he had shown for the last year-and-a-half, it seemed like Dufner might be in for a down year.

However, he has turned it around, finishing 12th at the Cadillac Championship and 21st at Tampa last week. 

After Round 1, he is tied for 22nd at one-under and is ready to climb up the leaderboard. When Dufner was struggling earlier in the year, his putter was not working. He was solid on Thursday as he finished his round with 1.3 strokes gained putting. 

Dufner is finding his form, and he will improve as this tournament progresses. 

 

No. 2: Justin Rose

Justin Rose posted the round of the day, and he did so going off in the early group when the scoring was a little harder due to the wind. 

Rose was solid in all phases, but it was his putter that really made the difference. He finished his round with a spectacular six strokes gained putting.

Take a look at this solid tee shot and 18-footer on No. 17:

This performance is no surprise. Rose has been great lately. He is coming off an eighth-place finish at the Cadillac Championship and a fourth-place finish at the Honda. 

Were it not for the next guy, he would be an outstanding pick to lead this tournament wire-to-wire. 


No. 1: Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods loves Bay Hill. He is the defending champion at this event, he won by five strokes last year and has seven Tour victories at this course. 

Tiger was solid on Thursday, firing a three-under 69. He needed just 28 putts to get around the course and his flat blade has been on fire. 

That score would have been lower, but his round was marred by three bogeys. Tiger did not strike his irons as good as he has been, but he was only slightly off and his 57.1 percent driving accuracy is solid. 

Another great sign for Tiger is his play on the par-fives, like this eagle on No. 16: 

On the day, he was five-under on the four par-fives. 

Given his track record here and his recent run of success, Tiger is an excellent pick to defend his crown. 

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