Saturday, 27 May, 2017

Jason Day looks to regain form at Arnold Palmer Invitational

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Spencer Simpson | 18 March, 2017, 01:08

Matthew Fitzpatrick and Emiliano Grillo fired matching 5-under 67s on a tough, cold, windy day at Bay Hill in the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Having found the water with his approach from the fairway bunker, Ulsterman McIlroy failed to make up and down after his penalty drop, leading to two dropped shots. In between, G-Mac had three birdies and a further two bogeys, in signing for a level-par 72.

Defending champion Jason Day coped with what he described as "brutally chilly" conditions to shoot a respectable 70.

The tournament, the first since Palmer's death last September, has been dominated by the tributes paid to the great man's enduring legacy, but McIlroy meant to focus on the golf.

"I know that I'm not really comfortable playing on the West Coast".

England's Paul Casey shared third, one stroke off the pace, with former US Open victor Lucas Glover and fellow American Charley Hoffman while Australians Greg Chalmers and Ryan Ruffels were in sixth on 69.

Eager to get going again, Day arrived at the tee Thursday morning and it was 40 degrees.

Palmer's former manager, Alastair Johnson, recalled Wednesday the voicemail Woods sent past year which was particularly touching to the seven-time major victor and tournament host.

Grillo has already won on the PGA Tour but this is a golf course where he has performed well previously (he contended previous year before finishing 17th on debut) and he was keen to get back. Once he got that start out of his system, Grillo produced seven birdies for the rest of the journey. He tied for 12th at the Tournament of Champions, missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, tied for fifth at Pebble Beach and then tied for 64th at the Genesis Open - the week Johnson won and took over the top spot.

"I get to have that memory of actually standing with him, talking to him and being his champion", Day said. It's been a amusing year. "So that's something that I will always hold dear to my heart, because I was the last guy to have that congratulatory drink with him". This is obviously a very important stretch coming up, just to see you how the state of my game is, going into Augusta.

I started thinking about all the years that I've played in the tournament, and I just started thinking about him driving around in the cart and watching me. Just kept it sort of fairly steady.

"You're trying to do your job, and so out of respect to him I'll be business as usual, and let him play his game and we'll go from there", he said before they teed off. I'm just glad to get it in at two under.

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