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. Alex Faedo, Florida advance to face LSU in College World Series finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 71/3 innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida moved to the College World Series finals with a 3-0 win Saturday night.

    Florida’s Austin Langworthy scores on a single by Mike Rivera in the second inning during a 3-0 victory over TCU.
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Rays journal: Jumbo Diaz falters after getting within a strike of ending rally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game got away starting with a leadoff walk in the seventh inning by Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who was brought in exclusively to face Baltimore's lefty-swinging Seth Smith.

    Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Orioles score four during the seventh inning to give them a 7-3 lead. Diaz was one strike away from working out of the jam before he allowed a two-run double and a two-run homer on back-to-back pitches.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It was refreshing to see RHP Jacob Faria take the blame after the loss even though he gave the Rays a chance to win. Too often young pitchers are encouraged by what they did and not necessarily the outcome, but Faria, making just his fourth big-league start, came to the Trop to win, didn't, and pointed the finger …