Fitzpatrick, Grillo share early lead at Bay Hill


ORLANDO, Fla. – The calendar says mid-March, but you’d never know it based on the conditions at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here’s how things look at chilly Bay Hill, where two players share the early lead:

Leaderboard: Emiliano Grillo (-5), Matthew Fitzpatrick (-5), Lucas Glover (-4), Paul Casey (-4), Charley Hoffman (-4), Francesco Molinari (-3)

What it means: Grillo set the early pace, as his 67 was three shots clear of the next-best score from the morning wave. Fitzpatrick tied him late in the day as he looks to snag his first PGA Tour win, while a trio of veterans sit just one shot off the pace on a day when early-round temperatures dipped below 40 degrees.

Round of the day: Grillo said he lost feeling in his fingers at points during his front nine, a factor that contributed to him bogeying two of his first four holes. But he turned things around in a hurry, carding four birdies from Nos. 5-9, and made seven birdies in total.

Best of the rest: Fitzpatrick is making his third career start at Bay Hill, and he managed to keep a clean card despite difficult conditions in the opening round. The Englishman opened with six straight pars before recording four birdies in a six-hole stretch to snag a share of the lead.

Biggest disappointment: Henrik Stenson has been a Bay Hill stalwart in recent years, finishing T-8 or better every year since 2013. But that streak appears in jeopardy after the Swede opened with a 3-over 75 to slip eight shots off the pace. Stenson managed only two birdies to go along with three bogeys and a double on No. 18.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Bay Hill remains a demanding test this week, especially with the chilly conditions. But keep an eye on defending champ Jason Day, who played in the more difficult morning wave and still managed a 2-under 70. The tournament has seen each of its last two champs win in back-to-back fashion (Tiger Woods, Matt Every), a trend Day would love to continue.

Shot of the day: Rory McIlroy nearly holed his short approach to the par-4 13th, as the ball spun back across the cup and settled 18 inches away. It set up a kick-in birdie, but McIlroy had several other errors and carded a 2-over 74.

Quote of the day: “I couldn’t feel my hands. If I had my hands out of my pockets for a minute or two, I would be freezing.” – Grillo