PGA Tour Saturday Morning Report: Cream Rises to the Top at Bay Hill

Andy Reistetter@GolfWriter59Analyst IMarch 27, 2010

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 26:  Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot on the 13th hole during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at the Bayhill Club and Lodge on March 26, 2010 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Featured Columnist Andy Reistetter is on site at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Florida.

 

The associated video is available on YouTube.com at the following link:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_l10IvFLRw

Welcome to the PGA Tour Saturday Morning Report.

After 36 holes in the hot Florida sun the cream has risen to the top of the leader board.

Of the seven golfers at the top, five have won at least one major championship.

Combined they have won 10 majors.

But who will win this Tiger-less safari among the bays and hills of the King's homeland?

Will it be the South African Ernie Els who has three majors to his name?

The Big Easy, fresh from a World Golf Championship two weeks ago at Doral is joined at the top by fellow major champions Davis Love III and Ben Curtis.

The final member of the foursome at the top is D.J. Trahan the 29-year-old Clemson graduate with two career PGA TOUR victories.

Only one stroke behind at the halfway point is three-time Major champion Phil Mickelson.

Lefty is winless in five starts this year and is playing on the newly renovated Championship course without the benefit of a practice round.

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His 71-67 start is proof positive that his simple strategy of trying to improve with each day's play is being fulfilled this week.

Tied with Mickelson in fifth place is two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and little known South Korean Kevin Na.

Of the top seven golfers only Els and Mickelson have won here before.

Twenty-time PGA TOUR winner Davis Love III has finished second three times.

A win here would get Love into the Masters where a green jacket of the Augusta, Georgia type seems like a natural for the Sea Island, Georgia resident.

Twenty-two golfers are within four strokes of the lead.

Those in contention going into the weekend include World No. 2 Steve Stricker, the older of the Italian brothers Eduardo Molinari, and long hitting J.B. Holmes.

Mr. Palmer's grandson Sam Saunders is six strokes back.

In 2008 the banner on this home across from the 18th green read "Arnie and Bay Hill: A Great 30-Year Team!"

Last year we celebrated Mr. Palmer's 80th birthday.

This year as you can see the banner reads "Good Luck Sam!"

Tied with Sam Saunders are the European Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie and the inspirational man who keeps playing golf after two heart transplants—Erik Compton.

Other notables to make the cut include Japan's 18-year-old version of Tiger Woods, Ryo Ishikawa, and America's youngster, 21-year-old Rickie Fowler.

I watched Fowler play with Montgomerie on Thursday.

The Puma Tiger shot a 40 on the front side after a bad break triple bogey on No. 9.

His somewhat errant drive hit a cart path and bounded 40 feet into the air flying over a hedge out of bounds onto the driving range.

He came back with three birdies in a row on Nos. 12 through 14 and shot 33 on the back nine.

In the second round he had five birdies and five bogeys.

What an exciting player to watch!

Montgomerie had about 10 makeable birdie putts within 15 feet, most within 10 feet and made only three of them.

Imagine if the elder's wisdom of course management and the youth's putting were combined.

I think I would have seen a 59 shot out here on Thursday!    

Yesterday I followed last week's winner Jim Furyk, sensational soon to be 50-year old Kenny Perry and reigning PLAYERS champion Henrik Stenson.

Stenson gave the farm away after opening with a 67.

He made three double bogeys on the front nine and added three bogeys and three birdies on his way to a 78.

Frustrated after a poor chip on the 15th, he took a chunk out of a tree with his wedge.

He ended on a positive note though birdieing 18 to make the cut on the number at 1-over par.

On No. 6 the par-five wrapped around a lake Kenny Perry's second shot almost went in the water.

Much to the dismay of Fanny Sundstrom, Stenson's female caddie Perry only rolled up his white pants before going into the water.

Hey when your boss plays "the strip card" I guess you expect nothing other than the Full Monty from the other blokes on the PGA Tour.

Jim Furyk also made the cut on the number. This morning he has an eagle and three birdies and at 4-under is within three strokes of the lead after eight holes.

Golf is a game of legacies. Mr. Palmer has one here at Bay Hill and we're privileged to enjoy it for another year.

His hospitality, warmth and heart for people and the game of golf is unmatched.

This is Andy Reistetter at Bay Hill—until next time, good golfing and good living my friends.

Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering and working part time for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and The Golf Channel.

 

He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.

 

He enjoys pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it. He can be reached through his website www.MrHickoryGolf.net or by e-mailing him to AndyReistetter@gmail.com