Adam Scott, the world’s number-2 ranked player, is the leader after the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando on Thursday. Scott teed off early and tied a Bay Hill course record with a 10-under-par 62.
Scott began his day on the 10th hole and finished his first nine holes with a score of 31 with four birdies, an eagle and his only bogey of the day on the par-4 18th. After the turn, Scott had 3 more birdies and his second eagle of the day on the 561-yard par-5 4th hole. Three of his birdie putts were from more than 20 feet, with one of those coming from off of the green on the 15th. His 62 total at Bay Hill equaled record rounds by Andy Bean (1981) and Greg Norman (1984). With world No.1 Tiger Woods sitting out this tournament because of a bad back, there is a chance that Scott could overtake him in the rankings with a win this week.
John Merrick was in range of matching Scott’s mark, sitting at eight under after 16 holes on Thursday afternoon but a bogey and a par coming in left him three strokes back at minus seven. Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa is also within three shots of Adam Scott’s lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, as he birdied five of his last seven holes for a seven under par total of 65. Ishikawa could have been one stroke closer if not for a bogey on the par-3 14th hole in the midst of his run of birdies on the back nine.
Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez is alone in fourth place after a six-under 66. He had five birdies and the rest pars on the back nine after going out in 31. Five more golfers are five shots back, including Brandt Snedeker, Paul Casey, Jamie Donaldson, Morgan Hoffmann and Jason Kokrak.
It was not a great day for Bubba Watson. The former Masters champion and this year’s winner of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera carded an 11 over par 83. Watson started on the back nine and had a triple-bogey on 18 on his way to three-over-par 39. On the front nine things really fell apart. After bogeys on the 1st and 2nd holes took him to plus five on the day, he would hit three balls into the water on the par-5 sixth hole and take a score of 11. Bubba finished his round and withdrew because of allergies.
Adam Scott’s lead in the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational didn’t come without its challenges. Scott was battling the flu throughout his record-tying round and speculated that his poor health may have helped him. He cited the old adage about being wary of “the sick golfer,” adding that it seemed to lower his expectations and took his mind off of what was going on. Scott is playing in this event for the first time in five years. A redesign of the course that fit his strengths was a major reason the 33-year old Australian made his decision to return to Bay Hill. Three more days of performances near what he did on Thursday will probably convince him to return again and again.
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky
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