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Woods off to solid start in quest to regain number one ranking

March 22, 2013 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
Tiger Woods is looking for a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational that would take him to world No. 1.
Tiger Woods is looking for a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational that would take him to world No. 1.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tiger Woods shoots three-under round in solid start to Arnold Palmer Invitational
  • Woods can reclaim world No. 1 ranking from Rory McIlroy with victory in Bay Hill
  • England's Justin Rose out in front after shooting a seven-under round of 65

(CNN) -- The recent focus may have been on his new relationship with world champion skier Lindsey Vonn but Thursday saw the start of Tiger Woods' quest to reclaim golf's world No. 1 ranking.

The 14-time major champion, who revealed he and Vonn released pictures of themselves through social media to thwart photographers he referred to as the "stakerazzi", showed all his battling qualities on day one of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Woods carded an opening round of three-under-par at the Bay Hill course in Florida, to sit in the chasing pack behind leader Justin Rose, who shot 65 to finish on seven-under.

The Englishman fired six birdies and an eagle in his round and though Woods' performance was more solid than spectacular he scrambled well to remain within striking distance.

Read: Tiger: Vonn revelation 'thwarted stalkerazzi'

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Golfing great Tiger Woods and champion skier Lindsey Vonn announced they were dating on Facebook on Monday, March 18. Vonn recently divorced Thomas Vonn, who was also her coach, and Woods had a tumultuous split from his wife, Elin Woods, in 2010. Here's a look at other athlete couples. Golfing great Tiger Woods and champion skier Lindsey Vonn announced they were dating on Facebook on Monday, March 18. Vonn recently divorced Thomas Vonn, who was also her coach, and Woods had a tumultuous split from his wife, Elin Woods, in 2010. Here's a look at other athlete couples.
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Rose's nearest challenger was American John Huh, who sits on five-under while compatriot John Rollins and Canada's Brad Fritsch are a shot further back.

"I certainly didn't play my best, but I got around and made a few good saves out there," 37-year-old Woods told the PGA Tour's official website. "I got a lot out of this round, and I threw away a few shots as well.

"I didn't drive it well, didn't hit my irons well and didn't control my distances or trajectory well."

Starting his round on the ninth, Woods recorded back-to-back bogeys before making crucial par saves at the first and second.

"Those were key because I had just thrown away a couple of shots I gained on 16," Woods said. "It's just making a key save, a key putt here and there and keeping the round going."

Prior to his opening round Woods spoke publicly for the first time about his romance with Vonn, which the couple confirmed on Monday with statements and photos posted on social networking site Facebook.

At a press conference on Wednesday he said they had released news of their relationship to limit paparazzi intrusion.

"It's very simple, we're very happy where we are at but also we wanted to limit the stalkerazzi and all those sleazy websites out there following us," he told reporters.

"I've had situations where it's been very dangerous for my kids, the extent that they'll go to. We basically devalued the first photos.

"Unfortunately that's just the way it is in our society right now and we felt it was the best thing to do and we're very happy about it."

Rose's fine round was largely due to his putting prowess. He needed just 25 and converted all 17 chances from 15-feet or under.

"That's been the error of my game since June last year," Rose said. "Today was probably the first real hot day I've had with the blade in a long, long time."

"We all know it's about consistency and that's what I'm still working toward. It's just fun to know that I obviously can do it, and I take a lot of confidence from that."

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