ORLANDO — TaylorMade Tour Staff professional Justin Rose opened with a red-hot 65 on Thursday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, leveraging a couple of key equipment tweaks into renewed confidence and taking a two-shot lead in the process. Rose, who switched into the new R1 driver on Thursday at Bay Hill, shredded his way to six birdies and an eagle in a near-flawless opening round that took only 25 putts on his way to the clubhouse.
A week out from the now-famous Tavistock Cup, Rose spent the early part of the week practicing hard at his home course in Orlando, Lake Nona, making a few final tweaks to his new R1 during launch monitor testing that proved highly effective on Thursday. Following his round, Rose raved not only about his putting – saying his Ghost Tour DA-12 did “most of the damage” on his twitter account, @JustinRose99 – but also highlighted a strong first outing with the R1.
Rose made 10 putts six feet or longer and six putts 10 feet or longer on Thursday at Bay Hill, finding a rhythm with his stroke and his blade unlike anything he’s experienced early this season and raced up the leaderboard, good for a two-shot lead heading into Friday’s second round in Orlando. The Englishman shot 32 on his inward nine, closing with four birdies and two pars in a momentous six-hole stretch that looks to carry him to the first tee on Friday afternoon.
Every one of Rose’s 65 shots Thursday were played with TaylorMade’s new Lethal golf ball, a weapon he’s been using since Fall 2012. Rose was the first TaylorMade Tour Staff professional to use Lethal in competition, insisting on playing the ball after testing under the code name “Project 5” as far back as the Ryder Cup. Three months into the season and just three weeks out from The Masters, Rose appears poised not only for a big weekend in his hometown but a serious run at his first career Major Championship.
Can anyone catch Justin on Friday? We’ll be watching closely when Rose goes off at 12:45 p.m. EST for round two and onward into the weekend.