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Mahan close as Levin takes first round lead at blustery Bay Hill

By March 25, 2011No Comments

Spencer Levin shot a stunning bogey-free first round 66 at Bay Hill, Florida to open up a three-shot lead at the top of the leaderboard.

Blustery conditions which swept across the Florida course might have made for tougher scoring, but Levin seemed to relish the gusty winds as he opened up the gap over Rickie Fowler – who had got as low as 5-under par during his round – and Hunter Mahan.

Although warm, the conditions saw only those three players break 70, and only 30 players who set out on the first round managed a score of par or better over the tough Bay Hill course.

Several big names struggled in the conditions, most notably US Open champion Graeme McDowell, who opened with a round of 80 – only one birdie against six bogeys and a triple-bogey at the par-5 8th hole tells its own story of the Portrush player’s round.

But he wasn’t alone as United States’ Ryder Cup player Jeff Overton was also blown to an opening 80, as was Jhonattan Vegas and Brandt Snedeker. And they weren’t the worst either – Japan’s Yuta Ikeda propped up the leaderboard courtesy of a 12-over 84.

In all there were 13 rounds of 80 or worse after the first round – the most at Bay Hill since 1983, where 24 rounds of 80+.

Mahan came out best on a decent opening day for the YGT tipster selections following his 3-under 69; Phil Mickelson was just a further shot back after a round of 70, while Justin Rose was among the group of 9 players who finished with a level-par round of 72.

Tiger Woods missed a 10-footer for par on the last to close with a 1-over par round of 73 – his worst opening round at Bay Hill since 1999, while last week’s Transitions winner Gary Woodland, who played with Woods and Dustin Johnson opened with a 77, as did Johnson.

Unlike previous events, Woods’ big problem wasn’t his putter – but his driver, which saw him go 0/9 on fairways hit on the front nine, before getting to grips with the big stick. Luckily for him, although wayward off the tee, he managed to avoid any serious trouble.

But the spotlight fell on Levin, leading a tournament after the first round for the third time this season – but yet to win on the Tour. Levin will be one of Friday’s early starters, where weather conditions are likely to prove a little more benign, and he will have the chance to build on an impressive opening round.



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