ORLANDO, Fla. – Adam Scott matched the Bay Hill course record with a 10-under 62 Thursday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here’s the skinny on Round 1:
The leaderboard: Adam Scott (-10); Ryo Ishikawa and John Merrick (-7); Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (-6)
What it means: Scott will ascend to world No. 1 (before the Masters) with a victory at Arnie’s Place, and he’s off to an auspicious start with a two-eagle, seven-birdie performance. The world No. 2 hasn’t played here since 2009, when he missed the cut, but he seemed to remember the course just fine on Day 1.
Round of the day: Starting on the back nine, Scott eagled the par-5 16th and par-4 fifth en route to his best round of the year. It also matched his lowest score ever on the PGA Tour. The last time he opened with 62, at the 2011 Bridgestone, he eventually won by four.
Best of the rest: Ryo Ishikawa put himself in contention for his first career PGA Tour title with a smooth 65, the same number recorded by John Merrick, the 2013 Northern Trust winner. Brandt Snedeker, who hasn’t cracked the top 40 in any full-field stroke-play event this season, shot his best round of the year with a 67.
Biggest disappointment: Bubba Watson took an 11 on the par-5 sixth on his way to an 83 on Day 1. Afterward, he withdrew from the tournament, citing allergies.
Biggest storyline heading into Friday: Can Scott keep it going? Forget the prospect of becoming No. 1 for the first time in his career. This is his final start before his title defense at the Masters, which is motivation enough.