The 2016 Open Champion upstaged an in-form Tiger Woods during an eight-under-par 64 at Florida's famed Bay Hill course.

The 41-year-old Swede enjoys a one-shot lead over Aaron Wise and unheralded American Talor Gooch.

Rickie Fowler (67) headlines a tie for fourth at five under.

Coming off a tie for second at last week's Valspar Championship, 14-time major champion Woods fired a 68 on his return to Bay Hill.

Woods reacts after sinking a 71-foot birdie putt on the 7th hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. PHOTO: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

Woods hasn't played the Palmer event since winning the 2013 edition – his eighth title at Bay Hill.

"I feel way more comfortable in the tournament setting," Woods said, playing the fifth event of his comeback from spinal fusion surgery.

"It's taken a few tournament rounds under my belt to be able to get into this position (regularly), but I've got my tournament feels now, which is nice."

Teeing off the 10th, Woods put on a ball-striking clinic on his front nine as he raced into the lead after hitting seven of the first nine greens and four of seven fairways.

But the wheels appeared to come off early on his back nine when an out-of-bounds tee shot resulted in a double-bogey six at the par-4 3rd.


Woods bounced back in trademark fashion with three birdies on the home stretch iced by a stunning 71-foot birdie putt he drained from off the green at the par-3 7th.

Defending Palmer champion Marc Leishman finished as the leading Australian, sitting at two-under after a 70.

A shot back is Perth youngster Curtis Luck (71), while big-name countrymen Jason Day and Adam Scott both shot 73.

"I just didn't give myself opportunities, it's pretty hard to make birdies from 51 feet and I didn't hole anything today," Day said, who won at Bay Hill in 2016.

Queenslander Cameron Smith struggled on day one, dropping three shots during a 75 and he's one shot ahead of Stuart Appleby (78).

- Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press