The Associated PressORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Charley Hoffman wasn’t expecting to be at Bay Hill, until he didn’t qualify for a World Golf Championship next week.
The change in plans has worked out nicely so far.
In only his fourth appearance in the Arnold Palmer Invitational over the last decade, Hoffman made seven birdies in slightly warmer conditions Friday for a 6-under 66 that gave him a one-shot lead over Emiliano Grillo of Argentina.
Grillo made two eagles on his opening nine, holing a 35-yard bunker shot on the par-5 12th and chipping in from just off the green on the par-5 16th. He made birdies on the par 5s on the front nine that carried him to a 68.
Matt Fitzpatrick of England had four birdies on the back nine for a 69 and was two shots behind.
Hoffman was at 10-under 134.
Sam Saunders, the 29-year-old grandson of Palmer, had three straight bogeys around the turn and never caught up. He wound up with another 74 and missed the cut by one shot in the first Arnold Palmer Invitational since the death of the beloved tournament host last September.
“I don’t know, I’ve got a monkey on my back there where I just always seem to work my way toward that cut number and think about it too much,” Saunders said. “It’s all part of the learning experience, and just got to get better.”
The cut was 3-over 147. Two players who missed the cut at least provided some entertainment.
British Open champion Henrik Stenson hit three balls out of the water, including two on one hole. His blast from the pond short of the 11th green barely made it out and rolled down the slope, only to be caught by a tuft of grass. His next chip rolled back down the slope and into the water, leading to a triple bogey. He also played out of the water on the 16th. Stenson shot 74.
One day after Cody Gribble grabbed the tail of an 8-foot alligator, spooking it back into the lake, Smylie Kaufman was walking along and didn’t see the gator. He jumped back in fright when he spotted it. The gator didn’t move.
Hoffman only had to finish 41st at the Valspar Championship last week to get one of the 64 available spots through the world ranking for the Dell Technologies Match Play next week in Austin, Texas. Instead, he missed the cut and will be the second alternate, unlikely to get in.
So he added Bay Hill, a decision that was even easier because it was the first one without Palmer.
“I played halfway decent the first round last time I was here,” he said. “In the schedule, it hasn’t fallen where I would like in the past. I wasn’t in Match Play, and then obviously honoring Arnie is not a hard thing to come here and play.”
Wie in contention in Phoenix
PHOENIX (AP) — Michelle Wie is healthy and confident again. She’s in contention in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, too.
Wie shot a 5-under 67 on Friday on another hot and low-scoring day at Desert Ridge to enter the weekend a stroke behind leaders Stacy Lewis and Ariya Jutanugarn.
“I think being in contention is definitely a spot where I feel comfortable at. Feels like home to me,” Wie said. “It’s nice being in this position again. I’m really proud of the way I’ve played the last two days.”
Lewis and Jutanugarn played together, each following an opening 64 with a 67 to reach 13 under in the tournament that broke the LPGA Tour record for the lowest 36-hole cut at 5 under. The previous mark of 4 under came in the 2015 Manulife LPGA Classic in Canada. The event record was 3 under last year.