Tyrrell Hatton of England said he didn’t know where his golf ball was going, but it took him to the top of the leaderboard midway through the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
The 28-year-old Hatton (pictured), who is coming off wrist surgery at the end of last year, shot 3-under-par 69 in a second day of windy conditions is tied for the lead with Sung Kang of South Korea at Bay Hill Resort and Lodge www.bayhill.com in Orlando, Fla.
“My short game needed to be good because I hit the ball into some interesting spots,” said Hatton, who has won four times on the European Tour among seven pro victories. “The wind was blowing and I lost my swing on the back nine, and didn’t know where the ball was going.
“I was just happy to get into the clubhouse and I’m going to go out tomorrow and try my best, try to play my best on the weekend. It’s only Friday, so there is nothing to get excited about yet.”
Hatton made birdie putts of 18 feet on the fourth hole and 13 feet on the eighth as he finished on the front nine and carded a 36-hole score of 7-under 137.
Kang, 32, who claimed his first PGA Tour victory in the 2019 AT&T Byron Nelson, capped off his 68 with a six-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.
“I love playing in this North wind,” said Kang, who won four times on the Korean Tour. “When I won the Byron Nelson last year, it was in a North wind, and I just seem to play better. When there’s a South wind, the ball seems to go further and I have to adjust my numbers.
“In the North wind, I just hit my normal numbers and don’t have to take any yardage off. I drove the ball great today, hit the ball well and I putted nicely.”
Danny Lee of New Zealand collected five birdies on the back nine in a 67 and is one stroke back in third, while top-ranked Rory McIlroy made a late birdie to salvage a 73 and is two back in a tie for fourth with Sungjae Im of South Korea, who won the Honda Classic last week and made three birdies on the last four holes this time for a 69, and Harris English, who had at 70.
Ninth-ranked Patrick Reed posted a second 70 and is one more shot down in a tie for seventh with Marc Leishman of Australia (69), Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa (72), Sam Burns (72), Brendon Todd (72) and Tom Hoge (70).
Third-ranked Brooks Koepka is tied for 40th after a 73, while several other top players missed the cut.
Seventh-ranked Adam Scott of Australia, and Phil Mickelson, who won at Bay Hill in 1197, both totaled 77-72—149 to miss the weekend by two strokes, while 10th-ranked Tommy Fleetwood of England missed by five at 76-76—152.
First-round leader Matt Every, who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2014 and 2015, made four double-bogeys and missed by one stroke at 65-83—148.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html