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Wi & Dufner on Top at a Tough Bay Hill
Americans Charlie Wi and Jason Dufner carded 6-under 66s to take the opening-round lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The $6 million PGA Tour event started Thursday at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando.
Wi, a 40-year-old Cal-Berkeley grad, carded seven birdies and a bogey while Dufner, an Auburn grad who turns 35 Saturday, posted five birdies, an eagle on the par-5 16th and a bogey.
Wi was very pleased with his first round, especially considering how hard Bay Hill played. "The golf course is playing very difficult. It was really windy this morning starting right off the bat and I was able to control the ball really well," said Wi, who's won nine times overseas but is still seeking his first PGA Tour title. "I gave myself a lot of opportunities and I was able to make some putts. I'm very pleased with 66."
Alone in third two strokes behind the leaders is Nick Watney. Tied for fourth after 69s are Jimmy Walker, Tiger Woods, K.J. Choi, Justin Rose, Anthony Kim, Sean O'Hair and Bubba Watson.
Beginning on the 10th hole, Woods went out with three birdies in five holes - Nos. 12-16 - but bogeyed the par-3 17th. On his inward half, Woods had a birdie on the par-5 sixth and the rest pars. Woods, like Wi, was simply happy to get into the clubhouse with a decent round on a course that, outside of the leaders, led to some high scores. "It was a day I didn't really do anything great today.
"I was just solid all day. I drove the ball well. Hit my irons decent and putted all right," added Woods, a six-time winner at Bay Hill whose earlier problems with a strained Achilles heel weren't an issue Thursday. "I had two three-putts, but also made a couple bombs out there. It's just one of those days where not a lot going on."
Sharing 11th after 70s are Chris Stroud, Bud Cauley, Davis Love III, Brian Davis and Marc Leishman.
Other scores included an even-par 72 by defending champion Martin Laird and a 73 by Phil Mickelson, who won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and finished second in the Northern Trust Open earlier this year.
Mickelson had a wild round, with four birdies offset by a bogey and two doubles on the par-4 third and 18th holes. He knew he left some opportunities on the course Thursday. "I shot 1-over today and it wasn't the greatest round," Mickelson said. "I had a middle stretch there of four holes where I played 5-over. So I fought back hard to get it back to 1-over.
"It was important to get a few birdies to get it back to close to par, because if I can come out tomorrow and get a hot round, I can get right back in it for the weekend," Lefty added. "I putted really well today and I just made some very poor swings. I drove it out-of-bounds on 18, into the water on three, and doubled both of those holes. And so just I've got to work on my ball-striking a little bit."
Showing how hard Bay Hill played Thursday, several touring pros posted over-80 rounds, including Erik Compton, Spencer Levin, Brendan Steele and Ricky Barnes.
South African Tim Clark was disqualified after he signed an incorrect scorecard. Clark wrote down a score lower than he actually made on the par-4 13th and was credited with a 7-over 79.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboards/current/r009/.