sport

Scott making bid for top ranking

Adam Scott made a brilliant start to the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Thursday as he continued his bid to overtake Tiger Woods as world No 1.

Scott carded five birdies, two eagles and one bogey in his first 13 holes at Bay Hill to charge to the top of the leaderboard on eight under par.

The reigning Masters champion started on the 10th and birdied his opening hole before picking up another shot on the par-five 12th after getting up and down from a greenside bunker.

Scott then holed from 25ft on the 14th and from a similar distance off the green on the next, before continuing his hot putting steak by making an eagle from 35ft on the par-five 16th.

His solitary bogey so far came from an errant approach to the 18th, but the Australian bounced back quickly with a birdie from close range on the third and another eagle from 20ft on the fourth.

American Morgan Hoffman was Scott's nearest challenger on five under after 11 holes, with Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and former Ryder Cup captain Davis Love a shot further back.

Scott cannot overtake the absent Woods - the defending champion pulled out on Tuesday with on-going back problems - with a victory at Bay Hill, but would overhaul the 14-time major winner before his Masters defence if both players did not play again before the year's first major at Augusta.

The 33-year-old had the chance to get to the summit in his last start at Doral but was not able to muster the necessary victory, instead finishing tied 25th.

"There was some fun in going to Doral and having a chance to win and maybe go to number one and that's a huge motivator. It didn't really work out and I don't know how many of those chances I'll get," Scott said on Wednesday.

"So if I get another chance I'm going to be doing my best to take it because the well might dry up, and I might never have this opportunity again."

Scott picked up further birdies at the sixth and seventh to complete a stunning round of 62, 10 under par, which equalled the course record shared by Andy Bean and Greg Norman.

Fernandez-Castano was four shots behind after a 66 that featured five birdies in a back nine of 31, while England's Paul Casey joined him on six under with three holes remaining.

US Open champion Justin Rose, playing alongside Scott, had to settle for an opening 71.