Battle in the first round at Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Classic, Matsuyama surges early

Orlando, FL -In an awesome display of skill and determination, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, 2019 Open Championship and 2021 Masters champion,  surged into contention, swiftly joining Lower atop the leaderboard following a stellar round punctuated by a breathtaking chip-in eagle on the challenging par-5 16th. Yet, amidst the excitement, the anticipation hung thick in the air, hinting that the day’s events were far from over, as the conditions remained ripe for even more extraordinary performances.

Matsuyama and relative newcomer Justin Lower lead by one stroke, while Russell Henley, Lee Hodges, Sam Burns and Sahith Theegala each shot 68 to tie for fourth after the first round. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational champion, sits four strokes off the lead after an opening-round 70.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Shane Lowry embarked on a thrilling chase as the day drew to a close, emerging from the penultimate group with a surge that propelled him past the leaders. Lowry’s back nine charge was nothing short of spectacular, as he continued with a  score of 31 strokes, ultimately carding an impressive 66 for the round. In a historic feat, the seasoned 36-year-old etched his name in the annals of golfing lore by becoming the first player to master the formidable trio of Bay Hill’s Nos. 10, 11, and 12 with a flawless sequence of 3-3-3, comprising birdie, birdie, and eagle, a feat unparalleled since meticulous record-keeping began in 1983.

Spectators watch the Golfers warm up during th the 2020 Arnold Palmer inviational at Bay Hill in Orlando Florida on Tuesday March 3, 2020. Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis

As the sun dipped low on the horizon,  Lowry emerged as a formidable force to be reckoned with. With nerves of steel and a steely resolve, the Northern Irishman unleashed a relentless onslaught on the back nine, igniting a blaze of brilliance that illuminated his path to glory.

The stage was set for a showdown as Matsuyama, Lower, and Lowry battled for the top spot.

“I had no expectations for today’s round, but I was able to keep the good round going all day,” Matsuyama said.

 “With no wind at Bay Hill, that’s pretty rare, so I think that really helped today.”

As the final strokes were played with the applause apprentice golf fans through the air, Matsuyama, Lower, and Lowry stood tall. It was another unforgettable day at Bay.


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