Jazz Janewattananond with the mock cheque after shooting an ace in Arnold Palmer Invitational; Lee Westwood, the leader. Pic: Getty Images
Orlando, Florida, March 7: Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, who spent a good part of the lockdown in Orlando playing golf at the Bay Hill, where he stayed with veteran PGA star, Daniel Chopra, continued to put that experience to great use at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He followed up his second round 65 with a third round 69 and moved to Tied-seventh place.
Jazz, playing this week on a tournament’s exemption, also sank his career first hole-in-one on the PGA TOUR at the par-3 14th hole at Bay Hill Club and Lodge. At 7-under 209, he is four shots behind leader Lee Westwood who leads on 11-under 205.
Earlier Anirban Lahiri had missed the cut.
It was an eventful day as Jazz and Jordan Spieth had an ace each, a 47-year-old was in lead and he was being chased by a host of stars.
Ageless Lee Westwood holed a 32-footer on 16th for an eagle followed by a 28-footer for birdie on 18th to get into sole lead one shot ahead of the long-hitting muscled U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau.
Westwood first played the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 1998. Westwood’s round had only six pars besides eight birdies and the eagle and a pair of three-putt bogeys.
DeChambeau’s 68 included a birdie on the par-5 531-yard sixth hole on which he cut off so much of the water and had only 70 yards for his second shot on the 531-yard hole. He got himself a birdie and he was Tied-second with Canadian Corey Conners (71), who started with a one-shot lead, but ended one behind the leader.
Also in spotlight was Jordan Spieth who opened with a birdie and a hole-in-one. He took the lead by holing a bunker shot on the par-3 seventh and finished the day with 68. He was two shots behind, along with former PGA champion Keegan Bradley, who had the low score of the week at 64.
Rory McIlroy (66-71-72) is Tied-seventh.
The ace apart Jazz had three other birdies and two bogeys, one of them on the 18th. The shot of the day was a 6-iron which took four little bounces on the green before rolling into the hole.
“Good call, good club,” said a beaming Jazz, whose effort meant that Mastercard would donate US$200,000 to the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation.
“I was a member here for four months during COVID last year and I didn’t have one hole-in-one. So it’s good to have in a tournament and it’s very special to have Mastercard donating US$200,000 to Arnie’s Foundation,” said Jazz.
Jazz spent nearly six months in the U.S. last year after the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports leagues and international borders around the world, and stayed over an extended period with two-time PGA TOUR winner Daniel Chopra, who lives in Orlando and is a Bay Hill member. He is staying with Chopra and family again this week.
“I mean, there’s home course knowledge that helps in the fact here for sure. I must have played over a hundred rounds in shoot-outs like they have every day with the members and we kind of had fun and it’s great. Just learning the culture here as well,” said Jazz.
“I’m really fortunate because when the PLAYERS got cancelled after round 1 last year, Thailand’s border was closed so I didn’t have anywhere to go. I called my friend Daniel, whom I’m staying with this week as well, asking if I could stay with him for a few days and it turned into a few months. So it’s a great story.”
No Thai player has won on the PGA TOUR.