Cabrera Bello Leads API by 2 With 65

Rafa Cabrera Bello certainly enjoyed his first official trip around the course at Bay Hill Resort and Spa

The 34-year-old Spaniard took advantage of an early tee time to shoot 7-under-par 65 and grabbed a two-stroke lead over Keegan Bradley after the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Fla.

“This is my first time playing Bay Hill, but I’ve watched the tournament on TV and I know how tough the course is,” said Cabrera Bello, who has won six times as a pro but never on the PGA Tour. “I really didn’t know what to expect, but I’m very pleased with my score. I think it’s a course with many, many daunting shots. So I feel the more you play it, probably the better. I wasn’t really having much high expectations as opposed to just getting out there and playing my golf.

“I got off to a good start and just kept it going through the whole round. I tried not to think about too much or about my score, but just kept concentrating on hitting good shots and making putts. Then I saw the leaderboard and 7-under looks nice.”

Cabrera Bello bounced back from an opening bogey with birdies on four of the next five holes, and then added four birdies on the first six holes of the back nine.

Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion, posted a bogey-free 67 that included three straight birdies through No. 6, while Phil Mickelson, who won the tournament in 1997, shot 68 to tie for third with Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Bubba Watson, Billy Horschel and Patrick Rodgers of Stanford.

Tenth-ranked Francesco Molinari of Italy made a hole in one on the seventh hole en route to a 69 and is tied for eighth with Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela, Sung Kang of South Korea, Pat Perez of San Diego, Tommy Fleetwood of England and Scott Stallings.

Second-ranked Justin Rose of England is tied for 33rd at 71, defending champion and sixth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland totaled 72 and is tied for 49th, seventh-ranked Rickie Fowler of Murrieta finished at 74 and is in a tie for 72nd that includes third-ranked Brooks Koepka, and fifth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau is tied for 85th at 75.

Jason Day, who won the tournament in 2016, withdrew after five holes because of a back injury, putting in doubt his status for the Players Championship next week.

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