Miami - Matthew Fitzpatrick fired a bogey-free
five-under-par 67 on Thursday to match Argentina's Emiliano Grillo for the lead
after the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
The 22-year-old Englishman seeks his first career US PGA
victory after three European Tour triumphs, the most recent last November at
Dubai when he captured the World Tour Championship by one shot over compatriot
"I played nicely all day," Fitzpatrick said.
"Didn't really hit too many loose shots. I just kept it fairly steady and
managed to hole a few putts too."
England's Paul Casey shared third, one stroke off the pace,
with former US Open winner Lucas Glover and fellow American Charley Hoffman
while Australians Greg Chalmers and Ryan Ruffels were in sixth on 69.
Fitzpatrick, who began his tour of the famed Orlando layout
on the back nine, birdied the par-5 16th after reaching the green in two and
added back-to-back birdies at 18, sinking a 15-foot putt, and one, dropping a
He birdied the third after dropping his approach three feet
from the cup and added another at the par-5 sixth, blasting his third shot from
a greenside bunker to four feet and sinking the putt.
Grillo endured a wilder ride with birdies at the third and
par-5 fourth holes, then closed the front nine with birdies on four of the
final five holes - three putts between eight and 13 feet and the last a
47-foot birdie effort at the ninth.
The South American standout, whose lone US PGA win came at
the 2015 Frys.com Open, followed with birdies at the 11th, par-5 16th and par-3
17th. He missed a 19-foot eagle putt at 16 for a tap-in birdie before dropping
a 40-foot birdie bomb at the penultimate hole.
Grillo was left reflecting on what might have been a lower
score, saying he had struggled to get to grips with chilly early morning
temperatures at the start of his round.
"It was very tough, it was very cold this
morning," Grillo said. "I couldn't feel my fingers on the first five
or six holes. I made a couple of mistakes on the first few holes.
"So it might have been an even better round - but I'm
really happy with my play overall."
Aussie Jason Day, the world number two, was in a 12-man pack
on 70 that also included South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Trevor Immelman,
Canadians Adam Hadwin and David Hearn, Sweden's Alex Noren and Aussie Aaron
Day said later he was still struggling to rediscover his
"I just don't quite have enough confidence in my swing
right now," Day said.
"I feel like my putting's right there, but it's still
lacking. It's kind of all the parts of my game right now are just behind a
Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, ranked fourth, opened on 73 while
third-ranked Rory McIlroy, hoping for a fifth career major title and the
completion of a career Grand Slam at next month's Masters, fired a 74.
Leading scores after Thursday's opening round of the US PGA Arnold
Palmer Invitational at par-72 Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida (USA unless
67 - Emiliano Grillo (ARG), Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG)
68 - Lucas Glover, Paul Casey (ENG), Charley Hoffman
69 - Greg Chalmers (AUS), Ryan Ruffels (AUS)
- Francesco Molinari (ITA), Jason Day (AUS), Stewart Cink, Kevin
Kisner, David Hearn (CAN), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Trevor Immelman
(RSA), Adam Hadwin (CAN), Aaron Baddeley (AUS), Alex Noren (SWE), Harold
Varner, JJ Spaun
71 - Wang Jeung-Hun (KOR), Justin Rose (ENG),
Vaughn Taylor, Kim Si-Woo (KOR), Marc Leishman (AUS), Kevin Na, Keegan
Bradley, Luke List