Arnold Palmer Invitational drawing record crowds to watch Tiger Woods
By Edgar Thompson and Mike Bianchi
If there was ever any question about how much allure and drawing power Tiger Woods still has, it is being answered by the crowds at The Arnold Palmer Invitational.
"I can safely say if it keeps tracking like it is right now, this will be the largest event in the 53-year-history of our tournament," says Marci Doyle, the CEO of The Arnie.
During the first two days of the tournament, ticket sales were up more than 50 percent from last year. Not only that, but every upgraded tournament pass, on-site parking pass and hospitality event is sold out.
Although the tournament has never been a complete sellout, Doyle says there is a chance that could happen before the tournament is over on Sunday.
"We're monitoring it," she said. "... The crowds during the first two days of the tournament have been like Sunday crowds. It's a beautiful thing. Tiger has certainly had an impact and the weather hasn't hurt, either."
Since all of the on-site parking has been sold out, Doyle suggests anybody interested in attending the tournament on Saturday and Sunday either take an Uber or park at Universal Studios general parking ($10) and take the free shuttle to Bay Hill.
Saunders misses cut in heartbreaking fashion
With two holes to go Friday, Sam Saunders was 5-under par on the day and on his way to the weekend at Bay Hill for the first time since 2015.
Palmer's grandson grew up around the golf course, but Saunders had as many missed cuts as made ones during eight previous appearances.
But Saunders could not close out his round, recording consecutive bogeys to miss the 1-over par cut by a single shot.
Louis Oosthuizen, who is ranked 29th, was not the only player ranked in the top 50 of the world rankings to miss the cut. No. 31 Kiradech Aphibarnrat, No. 33 Matthew Fitzpatrick, No. 36 Kevin Kisner and No. 50 Cameron Smith joined Oosthuizen.
Matt Every, the 2015 and 2016 winner at Bay Hill, also missed the cut after he followed an opening 2-under 70 with an 80 Friday.
DeChambeau tied for lead
Bryson DeChambeau has done things his own way since he took up the game.
A physics major at SMU, DeChambeau, for example, uses the identical shaft length of 37 1/2 inches in all his irons.
Too often on the PGA Tour, his scientific, singluar methods have proven maddening. But the 24-year-old in his third season has shown signs of living up to his potential and pedigree.
DeChambeau followed an opening 5-under 67 with a 66 and sits in a first-place tie with first-round leader Henrik Stenson.
"I think every week I'm good enough to win or play my best," he said. "It's just sometimes a kick here, a break here and that's just what happens. ... You don't get always get a sky ship rocketed up to the top of the leaderboard.
"But this week, it's going the right way."
DeChambeau picked up his first win last summer at the John Deere Classic. But he has been inconsistent this season, failing to finish inside the top 40 during three events since he tied for fifth Feb. 4 in Phoenix.
DeChambeau withdrew from last week's Valspar Championship citing back pain after a opening 76. But he's shown few ill effects at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
"That rest last week kind of helped," he said. "My body wasn't doing great and I was able to come out here pretty fresh and get the ball in the hole."
DeChambeau has made 13 birdies and an eagle through two rounds this week. He also has good memories at Bay Hill.
In 2016, while still an amateur, he shot 66 to Rory McIlroy's 65 during the final round.
DeChambeau's days as an amateur bode well for him. He is one of five players to win the NCAA championship and U.S. Amateur in the same year, joining Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Ryan Moore.
This article is written by Edgar Thompson and Mike Bianchi from The Orlando Sentinel and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.