Rory McIlroy, the co-leader (Getty Images) and Anirban Lahiri (Filepic) at Bay Hill (Getty Images) at Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Orlando, Florida, March 5: Anirban Lahiri opened with a modest even par 72 on the first day of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. It put him in Tied-43rd place, a year after he missed the cut, when the event was the last one to be completed before the pandemic forced a halt.
Rory McIlroy, who opened with a 6-under 66 last year, did so once again and shared the lead with Corey Conners, who shot a matching 66 at Bay Hill. Bryson DeChambeau, the reigning U.S. Open champion, was a further stroke back in third place. Conners played his first seven holes in 6-under.
Lahiri, who has not won since the 2015 Hero Indian Open, started from the tenth and parred his first 12 holes, even as was unable to get inside 15 feet to give himself enough birdie chances. On the Par-5 fourth, he finally did after a fine second shot and a nice pitch to inside two and a half feet. It was his first birdie, and was to be the only one of the day. On Par-5 sixth, he found water with his tee shot and got to the green only in five and holed it for a bogey. It left with a day’s card of 72.
From an Asian viewpoint, Korea’s Byeong Hun An, 29, showed his fondness towards the Arnold Palmer Invitational by shooting a solid 4-under 68 to lie in tied fourth place after the first round. An has made the cut in his last five starts at Bay Hill, enjoyed three successive birdies on his homeward nine to end the day two back of co-leaders
Sungjae Im enjoyed a return to the prestigious PGA TOUR tournament with a solid 69 highlighted by an eagle on the par 5 16th hole. Im finished top-three in the last two years here.
McIlroy, a former FedExCup winner and World No. 1, is chasing his first win on the PGA TOUR since the 2019 WGC-HSBC Champions in China. After making the turn with a sluggish 35, the Northern Irishman caught fire with five consecutive birdies on his back nine to grab a share of the lead.
McIlroy has finished T6 or better in four consecutive years at the event, including a win in 2018 and was T-5 last year.
No American has won the Arnold Palmer Invitational since 2015 and from the top 14 players on the leaderboard, 10 are from outside the United States. Si Woo Kim withdrew at the end of the first round.
Asia’s other representatives had mixed luck. Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan returned a 74, while Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond carded 75s