Levin leads at Bay Hill

2011-03-25 07:10
Spencer Levin (File)

Orlando - Spencer Levin defied difficult, gusting winds at Bay Hill on Thursday, firing a flawless six-under par 66 to take the first-round lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Levin's impressive effort gave him a three-shot lead over fellow Americans Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan, and was more than eight shots better than the day's average score.

"Six under ... I didn't really even think about that on the range," Levin said. "Because I know the course is hard, anyway, and then .. 20, 30 mile per hour wind and makes it even more tough.

"I was just kind of hoping anything around par, maybe anything under par, would be a good score in the afternoon for sure."

In contrast, the power group of Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland all failed to break par.

Woods, a six-time champion at Bay Hill, opened with a one-over 73.

Woods struggled off the tee on the front nine, failing to find a single fairway.

The wind gave him little chance to compensate, prompting him to back off two putts because he couldn't hold his stance.

"I didn't drive it well starting out, and then I hit it pretty good," Woods said. "I hit my irons well all day, that wasn't a problem. The greens, it was really hard to stay steady out there. It's one thing to have it windy, but it was actually gusty, and I had a hard time with the putter going back straight."

Woods said the difficult scoring conditions meant that he was still in the hunt. Although Levin posted his round in the toughest conditions, many of those closest behind him played in more benign early conditions -- which Woods will likely get on Friday.

"Spencer obviously played well," Woods said. "But most of the low scores were this morning, so I'm still right there in the ball game."

Fowler set the early pace. He briefly reached five-under with an eagle at 16 -- his seventh hole of the day.

However, bogeys at his last two holes dropped him to 69.

"It's nice to have fresh green the first nine holes, and the greens are still soft," Fowler said. "You don't have to worry about balls bouncing too much."

Phil Mickelson, tuning up for his Masters title defense, led a group of 11 players on 70.

"I was able to salvage par with my short game, and it was a good opening round," Mickelson said. "I'll certainly take it."

Levin, who is in his third year on the US tour and still in search of his first victory, also putted well.

He drained par putts of about eight feet at three holes including at his last two, eight and nine.

At each he was in a bunker, and he was delighted to be able to get himself out of trouble.

"That was nice," Levin said. "Obviously, a lot better mood. Parred the last two when I could have bogeyed, so that was good."

Leading first-round scores on Thursday in the $6 million PGA Tour Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill (USA unless noted):

66 - Spencer Levin

69 - Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan

70 - Jason Dufner, Brian Davis (GBR), Lee Janzen, Phil Mickelson, Martin Laird (GBR), Bubba Watson, Chris Couch, Vaughn Taylor, Hunter Haas, Daniel Chopra (SWE), Rocco Mediate

71 - Fredrik Jacobson (SWE), Robert Garrigus, Brendon de Jonge (ZIM), John Senden (AUS), Steve Marino, Ian Poulter (GBR), Billy Hurley

Notable others:

72 - KJ Choi (KOR), Justin Rose (GBR), Trevor Immelman (RSA), Edoardo Molinari (ITA), Peter Hanson (SWE), Arjun Atwal (IND)

73 - Rod Pampling (AUS), Marc Leishman (AUS), Henrik Stenson (SWE), Charlie Wi (KOR), Nick O'Hern (AUS), Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia (ESP)

74 - Ryo Ishikawa (JPN), Jarrod Lyle (AUS), Matteo Manassero (ITA)

75 - Carl Pettersson (SWE), Vijay Singh (FIJ), Stephen Ames (CAN), Ernie Els (RSA)

76 - Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Aaron Baddeley (AUS)

77 - Alex Cejka (GER), Camilo Villegas (COL)

78 - Michael Sim (AUS), Richard S. Johnson (SWE), Stuart Appleby (AUS)

79 - Robert Allenby (AUS)

80 - Graeme McDowell (NIR), Jhonattan Vegas (VEN)

84 - Yuta Ikeda (JPN)



Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


As the Absa Premiership nears the Christmas break, a little over half the season remains. Who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Which teams will be relegated? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Which is your favourite event on the golfing calendar?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.