Christiaan Bezuidenhout produced a steady start on Thursday in the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Florida as he carded a two-under-par 70 to finish the first round in a share of 15th.
Starting his round on the 10th, he picked up a pair of birdies on the 15th and 16th, but then he found the water off the tee on the 17th. He had to take his penalty drop inside a bunker, but he was able to get up and down with an 18-foot putt for bogey. He picked up one more stroke on his way on, on the third, and finds himself six shots off the lead held by Rory McIlroy and Canadian Corey Conners.
McIlroy also started his round off the 10th, and, like Bezuidenhout, had two birdies and a bogey on his opening nine. But he turned on the magic with five consecutive birdies from the second to the sixth to lay down an early marker in a tournament he won in 2018.
Rory Sabbatini – now of Slovakia – was also on two-under after the first round.
Erik van Rooyen was the next best of the South Africans on level-par, while last week’s Puerto Rico Open winner, Branden Grace opened at two-over. Charl Schwartzel carded four-over, while Dylan Frittelli battled to seven-over down in a share of115th.