Rory Mcllroy had a disappointing two-over par opening round to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, leaving him nine shots behind leader Jon Rahm.
Spain’s Rahm sits seven-under par at the top of the leaderboard, with American trio Kurt Kitayama, Chris Kirk and Cameron Young sitting two shots behind.
England’s Aaron Rai sits three shots off the lead on four-under, level with seven players including the likes of Jordan Spieth, Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.
“I took advantage of the good swings. I put myself in a really good spot on 1 off the tee. Took advantage with a wedge in my hand,” Rahm said.
“I can say the two shots on 2 and 17, to have a combined six feet in those two holes, it just doesn’t happen. I hit two really good shots and landed in a very precise spot.
“Collin [Morikawa] landed his maybe 10 feet more on the green than mine on 2 and he was over the green. We’re playing with some really small margins today and took advantage of those.
“It’s not like it was shaky inbetween. I felt like I played a pretty good round of golf, it’s just not easy. Those fairways are getting firm and they’re not easy to hit. When you miss the fairway you’re going to be chopping it out of the rough and hoping for dear life.
“But even inbetween I did have a lot of good looks for birdie. I played really good golf today and I took advantage of the three or four missed opportunities, missed fairways and greens really, really well.
“Except on 8, which, well, it is what it is. But even if I didn’t make many birdies in between it was a good round of golf.”
Rahm birdied the first three holes at Bay Hill and took his only bogey of the day at the par-four eighth. He then birdied the par-five 12th, and after the par save at No 15, he drained a 24-foot eagle putt at the par-five 16th.
The Spaniard landed his tee shot at the par-three 17th inside three feet of the cup, before having a birdie putt of six feet at No 18.Share
Kirk, coming off a win at last week’s Honda Classic, was a co-leader in the clubhouse for much of the afternoon. He started his round on the back nine and bogeyed his first and last holes but rolled in seven birdies in between.
“I felt a little bit like a zombie this morning, but can’t really take away from the excitement that I have playing this event every year,” Kirk said.
Source: Sky Sport