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Published: Sat, March 18, 2017
Sports | By Jaime Goodwin

McIlroy, Fowler headline big names struggling at Bay Hill

McIlroy, Fowler headline big names struggling at Bay Hill

Argentina's Emiliano Grillo - among the earlier starters - claimed the clubhouse lead with a hugely impressive 67, five under, that was all the more worthy for the fact that he opened with bogeys on two of his first four holes.

Chalmers is playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the first time in three years and his strong start represents a turnaround in fortunes having missed the cut in his previous three trips to Bay Hill.

"It was very hard at the beginning, as you can see it was very cold this morning it was more like British weather out there, very tough conditions", said Grillo.

The last time Jason Day was at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, he won the 2016 Arnold Palmer Invitational and shared a celebratory drink - or two or three - with the King.

"It was good", the Queenslander said.

"I got lucky to tee off this afternoon, I think it's a huge advantage", he said. We worked it out about 15 or 20 yards. This is obviously a very important stretch coming up, just to see you how the state of my game is, going into Augusta.

Even in 2017, Day has played sparingly, making just his fifth start this week.

"You start hitting it a little bit further". You want to play good because you have played good in the past and you want to play good again.

Of the other Australians in the field, Marc Leishman is at 1-under and in a share of 20th, former victor Rod Pampling is 1-over and T46th, Cameron Smith sits T58th and major champion Geoff Ogilvy is 4-over and T92nd.

Though he is still ranked second in the world behind Dustin Johnson, who is not playing this week, Day has not been in top form so far this year.

England's Paul Casey shared third, one stroke off the pace, with former US Open victor Lucas Glover and fellow American Charley Hoffman while Australians Greg Chalmers and Ryan Ruffels were in sixth on 69.

"I felt like I was drinking a whole bottle of Ketel One (Palmer's favorite drink)", Day said with a big smile. "If I had my hands out of my pockets for a minute or two, I would be freezing".

"Certainly in the long run, I would love to play more over here as well as keep my place in Europe, but it's something I need to sort of figure out, hopefully, if I get an opportunity I'll plan it properly", said.

"I didn't putt very well today, I didn't hole much, but my chipping was pretty good, bunker play, that stuff was decent".

Grillo has already won on the PGA Tour but this is a golf course where he has performed well previously (he contended past year before finishing 17th on debut) and he was keen to get back.

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