Rory McIlroy takes clubhouse lead at Bay Hill with first-round 65

Rory McIlroy got straight back into his Bay Hill groove as he took the early clubhouse lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

By Sports Desk
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 8:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 8:18 pm

McIlroy, who has one victory and four top-10 finishes in his seven previous appearances at this prestigious event, began his week with a seven-under round of 65, three better than Graeme McDowell, Sungjae Jim, Will Zalatoris, and Adam Scott among the early starters.

“I think you turn up at any course where you’ve had success and automatically you’re going to have some confidence coming in,” McIlroy said.

“I’ve shot some really nice scores here. I think the last couple of years I’ve opened up the tournament really well with scores similar to what I shot today.”

Rory McIlroy plays a shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard at Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Golf Course

Though McIlroy, starting on the back nine, had an early bogey on the par-four 11th, he responded with two birdies and then sank a 41-foot putt for an eagle on the par-five 16th.

The Northern Irishman picked up another shot to make the turn at four under and stretched his lead with three birdies in four between the third and sixth holes.

“I feel there’s a nice flow to this course where you can really build a score,” McIlroy added. You have par-fives, one every few holes, and you’ve got a couple of scorable par-fours.

“As long as you don’t do anything stupid and you keep it in play, you feel like you can sort of methodically build a score on this golf course. That’s what I tried to do today.”