Eight-time tournament champion Tiger Woods is absent from this year's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla., but the rest of the world's top golfers are going all out for a PGA Tour title.
Thursday's opening round featured plenty of eye-opening performances and surprises, but no one stood out more than 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott, who shot a course-record-tying 10-under 62 to secure the lead through 18 holes.
Let's take a look at the updated leaderboard and get you up to speed on where we stand heading into Round 2.
|Pos.||Player||Par||Round 1 Score|
*Click here to view complete leaderboard via PGATour.com.
Day 1 Recap: Scott Sets Bay Hill Ablaze
Scott, who started on the back nine on Thursday, set the tone for his brilliant round with a birdie on No. 10. After shooting another birdie on No. 12, he picked up a stroke on three straight holes, concluding the stretch with an eagle on the par-five No. 16.
After bogeying No. 18, Scott rebounded on the front nine, recording three birdies and another eagle on No. 4, sinking a putt from 19 feet out.
He would wrap up his round with two consecutive pars to head into the clubhouse with sole possession of the lead.
Scott joins Andy Bean and Greg Norman as the only three men to shoot a 62 at Bay Hill, per PGA Tour on Twitter:
Bay Hill Course Record, 62: Andy Bean, 1981 Greg Norman, 1984 Adam Scott, 2 minutes ago #PGATOUR— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 20, 2014
Following his stellar round, Scott talked about the importance of pursuing the world No. 1 ranking and his battle with illness this week, per The Telegraph's James Corrigan:
I’ve dreamt about being No. 1 since I was kid. So I’m going to be doing my best to take this opportunity because the well might dry up and I might never have this chance again...'Beware of the sick golfer,’ is a really true adage. It lowers the expectations, slows you down and almost takes your mind off what’s going on – because you’re not even feeling human.
Japan's Ryo Ishikawa and American John Merrick also found birdies easy to come by on Thursday.
Like Scott, Merrick started on the back nine in Round 1. Appropriately, Merrick got hot on his 32nd birthday, recording three birdies through his first nine holes and then five on the front nine. A bogey on No. 8 would cost him a stroke but it wasn't enough to ruin his round.
Ishikawa also started slow before picking up steam on the back nine, where he recorded five birdies.
Meanwhile, Spain's Gonzalo Fdez-Castano overcame a shaky start to finish the round six under in fourth place. He would bogey two of the first five holes before birdieing five of six holes on the back nine to rise up the leaderboard.
At the bottom of the leaderboard, Bubba Watson was forced to withdraw after shooting an 83 on Thursday. The fan favorite took to Twitter shortly after to apologize and explain his situation:
Just wanted to tell my fans I'm sorry I had to withdraw from @APinv this week. My allergies have taken over!— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) March 20, 2014
It's hard to focus when you're heads all discombobulated from medicine and pollen #spellcheck— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) March 20, 2014
GolfChannel.com senior writer Jason Sobel poked fun at Watson's struggles:
Bubba Watson withdrew after his round due to allergies. Apparently he's allergic to shooting 82.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) March 20, 2014
Three strokes up with 54 holes to play, Scott still has plenty of work left to do, but has put himself in excellent position to win his first Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Still, with Scott unlikely to maintain his record-tying pace through Sunday's final round and Merrick, Ishikawa and others starting fast as well, the leaderboard is sure to tighten up on Friday and heading into the weekend.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.