Thursday, May 6, 2021

Latest Posts

Albert Pujols Placed on Waivers by Los Angeles Angels

The former superstar is expected to be released and may join another team as he closes out his extraordinary career.Albert Pujols, one of the...

I.O.C. Offers Vaccine to All Tokyo Games Participants

Olympic officials announced deals to provide vaccine doses to visitors before they travel to Japan, the latest effort to ease the fears of a...

Champions League: Deep Pockets, Deep Benches, English Winners

Manchester City and Chelsea seal an all-Premier League final thanks in part to resources and rosters that no club, not even their biggest rivals,...

Ahead of Tokyo Olympics, Drug Testing Is a Struggle

The pandemic slowed worldwide drug testing to a crawl. The process has resumed, but the problems that led to poor testing ahead of the...

Corey Conners, Rory McIlroy share lead at Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard

ORLANDO, Fla. — Bay Hill was bustling Thursday. The fans were limited in numbers but they all wanted the same dose of entertainment provided by Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau.


RELATED: Leaderboard 
McIlroy starts strong, Spieth builds on momentum at Bay Hill


First it was McIlroy, slowly feeling better about his game, and with good reason. Starting with a 55-foot putt on the par-3 second hole, he ran off five straight birdies for a share of the lead with Corey Conners in the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard at 6-under 66.

In the group behind McIlroy was DeChambeau, who has been contemplating a shot across the water to cut the 528-yard sixth hole down to size by going for the green. This was not the day with a slight breeze into his face, so the U.S. Open champion had some fun. He took out an iron, and then hit a conservative tee shot (309 yards) to the middle of the fairway.

It was a boring birdie, his third in a row, and he opened with a 67.

“There was a high expectation level of me trying to go for the green there, and it was a little pressure that I wasn’t expecting,” DeChambeau said. “But no, it was fun. The crowds were great with it. I pulled out an iron as a joke off the tee box. And for me, it was just too much off of the right and more into the wind than anything.”

In the group with DeChambeau was Jordan Spieth, making his debut at Bay Hill, and producing high adventure in a 70 that left him satisfied he remained on track — and irritated hitting off the toe of his driver and into the water on No. 6.

Even having to hit his third from the tee, he salvaged bogey with a 25-foot putt and made a 35-foot birdie on the next hole.

“Definitely proud of the way I responded, but the way I putted today, certainly would have liked a lower number,” Spieth said. “But it all just comes down to one shot for me today.”

Conners played in the afternoon and was 6 under through seven holes, capped off by an eagle on the par-5 16th. He took the lead with birdie on the par-5 sixth, but finished with a three-putt bogey from 60 feet to fall into a tie with McIlroy.

Jason Kokrak opened with a 68. Of the 60 players who teed off in the morning, only six broke 70. Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton shot a 77, while past Bay Hill winner Francesco Molinari took a step back from his progress with a 78.

McIlroy wasn’t too happy with his game after missing the cut — a rarity for him these days — at Riviera, then not having ideal practice sessions. He still managed some improvement last week in the World Golf Championships event, and saw even better results Thursday.

Most pleasing was seeing the ball go where and how he wanted it. He made three of his birdies on par 3s, the strength of Bay Hill. What stood out was a pair of 5-irons into the wind on the 14th and 17th holes, both tight draws, flighted the way he wanted to about 15 feet.

“Those shots last week that I was trying to hit were missing the target 20 yards left,” he said. “So it was nice to just see them coming out in the window I was anticipating.”

He said it was his best round of the year, and it helps being at Bay Hill, where McIlroy had a victory and no finish worse than a tie for sixth the last four years. He has seen enough of Tiger Woods’ eight victories in the Arnold Palmer Invitational to appreciate how to attack.

“He played it very conservatively. He took care of the par 5s. And that was usually good enough to get the job done,” McIlroy said. “So sort of take a little bit of a leaf out of his book.”

He only made birdie on two of the par 5s, going long on the 16th and having to lay up on the 12th from a fairway bunker.

Through it all, it was the activity outside the ropes at Bay Hill that stood out.

The Arnold Palmer Invitational was the last PGA TOUR event that had a full complement of fans, one week before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down golf. The tournament is allowing 25% of capacity — roughly 5,000 fans a day — and when they are watching some of golf’s bigger draws such as McIlroy, DeChambeau and Spieth, it feels even larger.

All were wearing masks.

“It’s nice to hear some cheers and a little bit of energy from the fans,” Martin Laird said after a 69. “It was fun to play in front of a crowd again.”

Latest Posts

Albert Pujols Placed on Waivers by Los Angeles Angels

The former superstar is expected to be released and may join another team as he closes out his extraordinary career.Albert Pujols, one of the...

I.O.C. Offers Vaccine to All Tokyo Games Participants

Olympic officials announced deals to provide vaccine doses to visitors before they travel to Japan, the latest effort to ease the fears of a...

Champions League: Deep Pockets, Deep Benches, English Winners

Manchester City and Chelsea seal an all-Premier League final thanks in part to resources and rosters that no club, not even their biggest rivals,...

Ahead of Tokyo Olympics, Drug Testing Is a Struggle

The pandemic slowed worldwide drug testing to a crawl. The process has resumed, but the problems that led to poor testing ahead of the...

Don't Miss

Experts’ NFL Mock Draft Picks: Insights and Predictions

Five quarterbacks could go in the top 10 for the first time, according to mock drafts produced by several analysts, while the first round...

A ‘Disappointed’ deGrom Allows One Run in Loss to Boston

The Mets’ ace allowed only three hits and struck out nine batters, but his team’s offense had absolutely nothing to offer.Every time Jacob deGrom...

By Extending Emmert’s Deal, N.C.A.A. Shows Distance From College Sports’ Day-to-Day

Mark Emmert’s extension stunned conference commissioners and university athletic directors and reflected some stubbornness as the N.C.A.A. faces legacy-shaping reckonings.Just over a month ago,...

Russell Westbrook Makes Triple-Doubles Look Easy. They’re Not.

Westbrook, the Washington Wizards guard, is on track to average a triple-double for the fourth time in five seasons, making it seem almost routine....

Stay in touch

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.