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Players boffo for Bay Hill

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ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s tough to get PGA Tour players to agree on anything, think national health care with an attitude. But Arnold Palmer’s nip/tuck of his beloved Bay Hill has been met with nearly unanimous approval.

“I loved what Arnie said a few months ago, ‘We’re going to make more than 18 par 5s,’” said Phil Mickelson following his first-round 71. “All (the changes) are for the better.”

Els echoed Mickelson’s comments earlier in the day, “I love the changes. They modernized the golf course. The whole place is back to where it used to be.”

By comparison in 2009 when the course played to a par of 70 the first-round scoring average was 72.11 and players harped. On Thursday as a par 72, as God and Arnie envisioned, the average was 72.49 and the reviews were largely boffo.

“This time he went for a different style around the greens with nice chipping areas. He wants the bunkers to be a penalty not the rough,” said Davis Love III, the co-leader with J.B. Holmes at 6 under. “He went for more of an Augusta style of play instead of a U.S. Open style.”

Even at 80, this King still has some new tricks.