But it was again the rejuvenation of Tiger Woods that stole the limelight after the 14-time major victor carded a four-under opening 68 - just four shots adrift of Stenson.
On days like this, when Woods birdied every par-5 and drained an uphill, downhill, curling 71-foot putt for birdie on his third-to-last hole, it's tempting to pronounce that he is almost back to being the same as he ever was.
Aaron Wise and Talor Gooch are locked in second at seven under after firing 65s. He's playing his best golf in years at the flawless time, and even legendary coaches who are entering the most important portion of their season can't help but take notice. Woods ended with a par at 17 and 18 to go bogey-free through nine.
Woods final birdie of the day came on No. 7 and was the most impressive, sinking the putt from 71 feet out. "I'm happy with the start, and would like to build on that", said Stenson, who required only 20 putts.
"Just because I won here eight times doesn't mean I'm going to win this week automatically", Woods said.
Tiger Woods is officially back! It's taken a little bit of time in terms of tournament rounds under my belt to be able to get into this position and I've got my tournament feels now, which is nice.
But the 30-year-old Queenslander attributed it to poor iron play, averaging 51 feet from the hole on approach shots. The Bay Hill course is a roller-coaster ride for golfers, offering plenty of potential spills and thrills, as Justin Rose showed by completing his first six holes in four-over and his next 12 in seven-under.
"No one has a crystal ball, but it's a pretty neat spot for the PGA and the game of golf to be in", said Monahan.
Following a share of second place at last week's Valspar Championship, Woods appears to be building on his recent momentum - and it's happening so far at a venue he knows very well.
"I enjoy just playing again, playing feels good".
Woods not only feels supremely confident on the track, but cherishes the time spent with Palmer, who traditionally greeted the tournament victor on the last green in the city Woods formerly called home.