Stenson holds lead at 12-under-204, DeChambeau follows by a shot
Henrik Stenson has been at the top of the leaderboard since the opening round at Bay Hill Club and Lodge hosting the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational hosted by Arnold Palmer. Stenson posted 1-under-71 for a shot lead over Bryson DeChambeau, the joint leader of the second round.
“I could have a two- or three-shot lead, which would have been a nice cushion,” said Stenson, “but I’ve been in the mix a few times and I’m back here trying to give it a go tomorrow.”
Stenson had lost his lead to DeChambeau for just a hole after a bogey on par-4 8th but was quick to get it back with a birdie on ninth, his next hole.
He has finished in top-10 for straight four years (2013-2016), before missing a cut here in the last season, while he came up short each time, his best finish is the second finish at the 2015 AP Invitational after losing by a shot to Matt Every.
Bryson DeChambeau joined Stenson for the lead on the second day, he climbed to the top just for a hole after Stenson missed his 29-foot par-putt and ended up posting a bogey and dropping to a second position just behind DeChambeau, but not for long, he reclaimed his position with a birdie on the very next hole.
DeChambeau posted a level-par round of 72 consisting three birdies and three bogeys to remain a shot behind the leader.
Chasing him with two shots is Rory McIlroy who is looking for his maiden win in a year and a half and is considered a black horse for the Masters next month. McIlroy posted a magical 67 after his last two rounds of 69 and 70 to climb eight spots up for a solo third finish on the board at 10-under-206.
McIlroy had just a single blemish on the par-4 11th and rest of his round consisted of an eagle on the very next par-5 12th and closing it with birdies on 16th and 18th holes.
“I worked on my swing a little bit,” McIlroy told NBC about the difference between last week’s missed cut and being in contention this week. “I found something I could go with into this week and hopefully beyond. Freed up a little bit with my putting. I became a little more instinctive with that, a little more reactive. I came into this week really positive. It’s a golf course I’ve played well before. I felt a little more in control of my game, in control of my swing.”
Tiger Woods climb
Woods stood T-17th on Friday and jumped seven spots up with three-under-69, taking his total to 7-under-209 and stand five-shot back from the leader.
“I played well, scored well, it was a good day all around,” Woods said. “Can’t complain about anything I did today. I really hit the ball solidly, I controlled it, and I hit a lot of beautiful putts. Some went in, some didn’t.”
On the third hole, Woods dropped in a sidewinding 38-foot birdie, just after a bogey on the second. On the 11th he hit a laser from 186 yards to inside 10 feet and made the putt.And on the par-5 16th, with his ball just below the fairway bunker lip, he decided against laying up, then flew trees over water to find the green, later two-putting for another birdie. His round saw him climbing to T-12th, T-5th, T-3rd and finally for T-10th with a lot of ups and downs with six birdies and three bogeys.
“I went in there with sand wedge initially just to lay up,” he said. “But as I looked at it, if I started that ball a little bit right of the flag, the lip was a little bit lower and I’m like, ‘OK, well, right now I’m as far back as I am, I can take a chance, but at least I had a little bit of room to the right side. So I went ahead and tried to pull it off and I hit a good one.”
And on the final hole, a 12-foot birdie saw Tiger’s famous fist pump.
Tiger is joined by Grayson Murray, Bud Cauley, and Patrick Reed.
Justin Rose and Ryan Moore follow McIlroy by a shot at 9-under-207 for a T-4th position on the board.
Rickie Fowler, the host of this week’s AP Invitational remained T-6th with 2-under-70 for the day with Charley Hoffman, Talor Gooch, and Byeong Hun An.