For a more thorough overview of Thursday’s action at Bay Hill, check out Doug Ferguson’s take HERE.
It most always comes down to not who’s hitting the ball the furthest (although that helps), but who’s doing more things right than wrong. After one round at Arnie’s Bay Hill Invitational, that would be Charlie Wi and Jason Dufner, as both are tied for the lead heading into Friday after 6-under 66 performances in their opening rounds. Wi began his day by reeling off 3 consecutive pars, but then went on to birdie three of his next four holes. He would give a shot back with bogey on the par4 8th, making the turn at 2-under 34. He kicked his back-nine off on a solid note by picking up another birdie on the par4 10th, and went on to birdie three of the closing 5 holes in his opening round to get to 6-under. Wi admitted that Bay Hill isn’t the type of course that lends him confidence, but he was surprised at how well he played on Thursday. “Since Pebble Beach, I’ve been playing okay, making cuts but not really — I haven’t had too many strong finishes and I’ve never really done well here,” he said. “If I had shot a couple under today before I teed off, I would have been very pleased, so to shoot 66 is a pleasant surprise.” Wi’s best finish this season was 2nd at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and is still looking for his first career PGA Tour win.
Another guy who is also still searching for his first career PGA Tour win is Jason Dufner, who matched Wi’s 6-under 66 with 5 birdies, an eagle, one bogey, and the rest pars in his opening round. Dufner has missed only 1 cut in 7 starts this season with 2 top-10′s, one of which came last week at the Transitions Championship where he finished T10. The Florida Swing has been a good stretch for Dufner, who admitted that he feels right at home with the Florida breeze and bermuda grasses. “(I) Played a lot of good golf throughout my career in South Florida, so I feel very comfortable down here. Obviously I’m playing some really nice golf,” said Dufner. “I’ve held the lead at Doral; held the lead last week through two rounds. This week, start off great. So I’m really happy with where my game is. Just looking to close a little bit better on the weekend and try to close one of these tournaments out and try to get a win.”
Tiger and Phil Grinding For Augusta
Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy took the week off, putting the focus this week on 2 players who have 7 Green Jackets combined – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Their opening rounds, however, couldn’t have been more different. Woods managed 4 birdies and a lone bogey in route to a 3-under 69, and continues showing significant improvement despite not getting a lot out of his round Thursday. “It was a day where I didn’t really do anything great today. I was just solid all day,” Woods said. “I drove the ball well. Hit my irons decent and putted all right. I had two 3-putts, but also made a couple bombs out there. It’s just one of those days where not a lot was going on.”
A lot was going on for Phil Mickelson, however. Lefty was 1-under going into his 9th hole of the day (the par4 18th) when he hit his tee shot out-of-bounds, leading to a double bogey. He would find trouble again 3 holes later, as he found the water on the par4 3rd and took another double. Mickelson would bounce back with a strong finish, birdieing 3 of his remaining 6 holes in the round, but his 1-over 73 on Thursday has become a familiar theme this season. “Heading into today, I had had a really good week ball-striking, one of the best weeks I’ve had. I felt so good with my game, and to shoot 1-over, I was disappointed,” he said. “It felt like something out of earlier this year, where I was playing very well and not shooting the number; to shoot a number that didn’t make sense.” He continued. “I’m going to try not to put too much into this first round because I’m putting phenomenal, and I’m really starting to strike the ball well. I just didn’t show that today. I made a couple loose swings.” With the afternoon scoring average nearing 2 shots higher than par, Mickelson’s 1-over 73 doesn’t put him too far behind to make it into the weekend. He joins a pack of about 20 players who also shot 1-over in their opening rounds on Thursday, all tied for 38th.
For all of the scores on Thursday, click HERE.
For a full recap of Thursday’s action at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Invitational, click HERE.