Graeme McDowell recovered from a poor outward nine to post a one under par 71 in the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

The in-form Ulsterman birdied the 206 yard 14th, his fifth, from just four and a half feet to dip into red figures but bogeyed the next three holes on the spin to turn in 38 before storming home in a three under par 33.

At the 15th, he bunkered his 175 yard approach and missed an eight footer for par and then followed that with a disappointing six at the 511-yard, par-five 16th.

With 246 yards to the pin after a perfect drive, McDowell’s approach ran into the back bunker and after failing to extricate himself at the first attempt, he splashed out to eight feet and drained the bogey putt.

That wasn’t the end of his bunker problems, however, as he overshot the 215-yard 17th, failed to carry the ball to the green with his second and two-putted from there for his third bogey in a row.

He hit back quickly on the homeward journey, holing a 14-footer at the 218-yard second and two putting from 30 feet after two great shots to the heart of the 561-yard, par-five fourth.

Another birdie followed at the 558-yard sixth, where he was in greenside sand in two but hit a long range bunker shot to 15 feet and drained the putt.

JB Holmes shot a six under par 66 to lead by a shot in the clubhouse from Swede Henrik Stenson and former Masters champion Mike Weir.