Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Memories of Arnold Palmer warm hearts at Bay Hill

ORLANDO — Sam Saunders stepped onto the first tee at Bay Hill and flashed a quick thumbs-up to the crowd, the trademark gesture of his grandfather. For the next four hours, memories of Arnold Palmer were all around him Thursday.

Nothing hit him harder than his walk to the 16th tee.

Parked there was Palmer's cart — that's where Saunders' grandfather loved to watch the action at the Arnold Palmer Invitational — and the PGA Tour golfer grew emotional.

"I started thinking about all the years that I've played in the tournament, and I just started thinking about him driving around in the cart and watching me," Palmer's 29-year-old grandson said. "And just to see it sitting there empty … yeah, that's hard. I think we all feel that. I had my emotional moment, looked at it, and then got my head where it needed to be to play the next hole."

The first Arnold Palmer Invitational without its beloved host began with Emiliano Grillo and Matt Fitzpatrick opening at 5-under 67 to share the lead. Lucas Glover, Paul Casey and Charley Hoffman were a shot back. Jason Day was among a group at 2-under 70. World No. 3 Rory McIlroy and Saunders shot 2-over 74.

Palmer, who died Sept. 25 at the age of 87, brought the tournament to Bay Hill in 1979.

The temperature was 39 degrees when Thursday's round opened, the coldest start of a PGA event this year.

Cody Gribble saw an alligator sunning himself on the bank of the sixth hole over water. The 26-year-old from Dallas swatted its tail with his left hand and the gator took off for the water.

"The gator looked like he needed some exercise," Gribble said after opening with 77.

LPGA: Stacy Lewis was on pace for the second 59 in the tour's history but finished at 8-under 64 and a share of the Bank of Hope Founders Cup lead in Phoenix. Ariya Jutanugarn, In Gee Chun, Katie Burnett and Sandra Changkija joined Lewis atop the leaderboard at Wildfire. Annika Sorenstam shot 59 at another Phoenix course in 2001.

Memories of Arnold Palmer warm hearts at Bay Hill 03/16/17 [Last modified: Thursday, March 16, 2017 10:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays DFA Danny Farquhar to make room for Brad Boxberger

    Blogs

    The Rays continued shuffling their bullpen, dumping RHP Danny Farquhar after Wednesday's game to make room for RHP Brad Boxberger to be activated off the DL.

    Farquhar, who worked an inning in Wednesday's 6-2 loss, had a 2-2, 4.11 record for 37 appearances, working primarily in lower leverage situations. In …

  2. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season

    College

    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  3. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pirates stadium

    Blogs

    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32, was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with Rays broadcasting director Larry McCabe when he …

  4. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH

    Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    Corey Dickerson is doing everything he can to garner All-Star votes heading into tonight's voting cutoff, going into play Wednesday leading the AL with 101 hits and rapping two more his first two times up, and scoring two more runs.