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Adam Scott off to a record start at Bay Hill

ORLANDO, Florida -- Masters champion Adam Scott was feeling ill when he arrived at Bay Hill. One majestic round with the putter made him feel a lot better on Thursday.

Scott made five putts from about 20 feet or longer, two of them for eagle and one of them from off the green for birdie, and matched the course record with a 10-under 62 to build a four-shot lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The conditions were close to perfect. So was his work on the greens.

“I made a lot of putts today, and a lot of putts from considerable length,” Scott said. “I hit a lot of nice shots, too, but it wasn't like I was hitting it 4 feet. I had a round like this in Australia at the end of last year — in the first six holes, I didn't hit it outside 5 feet. There's a lot of different ways to get the ball in the hole. But it's good for the confidence. It's what I wanted. I sat in here yesterday and said I'd like to make some birdies and build the confidence. And today is a good start to that.”

Ryo Ishikawa, who uses Bay Hill as his home course on the East Coast, birdied the 18th for a 65. John Merrick celebrated his 32nd birthday by reaching 8 under until a late bogey. He also shot 65.

Both were 10 shots behind before they hit their first shot of the tournament.

“That took the pressure off,” Merrick said. “You're already 10 shots behind, so it's not like you're protecting anything. But this isn't the Bay Hill I remember. I don't usually play golf in Florida without 20 mph wind.”

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano had his best round of the year with a 66. Brandt Snedeker and Paul Casey were among those at 67. They were all but forgotten with Scott's 62 on the board.

Scott walked from the ninth green across the practice range to the scoring trailer as one player after another turned his head and asked how low Scott went on the day. One caddie quipped, “Is there a 10-shot rule when you haven't teed off?”

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Adam Scott waves to the crowd after he birdied the seventh hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida on ...

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