McIlroy leading the way at Bay Hill

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy (9/4 – Arnold Palmer Invitational Outright) sits two shots clear at the top of the leaderboard after the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida.

The Northern Irishman has enjoyed his previous visits to Bay Hill, earning one win and four top-10 finishes in seven trips.

He shot a seven-under-par 65 on Thursday to end the day two clear of Beau Hossler, J J Spaun and Billy Horschel (11/1).

“I think you turn up at any course where you’ve had success and automatically you’re going to have some confidence coming in,” said McIlroy.

“I’ve shot some really nice scores here. I think the last couple of years I’ve opened up the tournament really well with scores similar to what I shot today.”

The world number five will need to maintain those high standards on Friday to retain his spot at the top with plenty of rivals sitting close by.

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Graeme McDowell (125/1 – Arnold Palmer Invitational Outright), Sungjae Im (12/1), Will Zalatoris (12/1), Charles Howell III (45/1), Adam Scott (20/1) and Ian Poulter (35/1) are just three shots behind the leader ahead of round two on Friday.

McDowell carded six birdies and two bogeys en route to his four-under par 68, including a dropped shot on his final hole of the day, but he wasn’t allowing that disappointing finish to detract from a largely positive round.

“There’s been a lot of really, really good stuff happening in my game,” McDowell said. “I feel like I’m in a good place mentally and trying to layer good days on top of good days and seeing where that takes me. I enjoyed it out there.”

World number one Jon Rahm (22/1 – Arnold Palmer Invitational Outright) started slowly, recording three bogeys in the opening nine holes, however, he recovered slightly on the back nine to card a level-par 72.

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