By Dennis de Jesus Jr.
Charlie Wi and Jason Dufner share the lead at 6-under after Round 1 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
A total of eight players are within three shots of the lead, a list which includes Tiger Woods, Anthony Kim and Nick Watney. It is worth noting that the first round leader has held on to win this tournament only seven times since 1979.
Wi is continuing a respectable start to his 2012 season where he has made five cuts out of seven tournaments he has entered which includes a runner up finish at the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Wi’s opening round 66 can be attributed to hitting 10 of 14 fairways along with 14 of 18 greens on regulation and carding only one bogey. Winning this tournament would make Wi eligible for the Masters Tournament, which is in two weeks.
After already owning two top-10 finishes in 2012 — a tie for 8th at the Waste Management Open and a tie for 10th at the Transitions Championship, Dufner is showing signs of being a significant contender for a major championship this year. This follows a 2011 season where he finished as a runner up to Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championship last fall in Atlanta. Dufner seems to enjoy Thursdays at Bay Hill, where he has scored three rounds in the 60s at tis tournament, all of them in the first round. Dufner was accurate off the tee, hitting 13 of 14 fairways, but he struggled a bit on his approaches only hitting 12 of 18 greens. Nick Watney is alone in third, posting a 4-under 68. This is Watney’s fifth appearance at the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he has posted rounds in the 60s two other times.The world’s 19th ranked golfer is looking to make this tournament his fifth win on the PGA Tour.
Anthony Kim is among a group of players scoring a 3-under 69 to start the tournament. Kim’s opening round was highlighted by a hole in one on the par-3 17th, where he used a 5-iron to fill the cup 200 yards away. This was the 15th ace ever recorded at the Arnold Palmer Inivitational and Kim’s first ever on Tour. Tiger Woods also posted a 3-under 69 which puts him into contention to win for the seventh time at this tournament. Woods is coming of a DNF at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship where he was forced to withdraw due to injury (left achilles strain). Woods’ achilles has improved since, and a round in the 60s at the always challenging Bay Hill might just prove it. Woods is starting for the 15th time at the tournament.
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