Conquistadores

Players were met with a rare brisk March morning in Orlando for the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Bay Hill showed its teeth with its healthy rough and firm conditions which caused fits for many players and high scoring. A couple of young international stars, Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo and England’s Matt Fitzpatrick, were able to put together stellar rounds of five-under par 67 to set the pace, one shot ahead of the veteran trio of Lucas Glover, Charley Hoffman and Paul Casey. Full scores.

3 reasons to watch this weekend:

Big weekend for the Cats
Perhaps the most underappreciated young player in today’s game is former Northwestern standout, Matt Fitzpatrick. At the age of 22, Fitzpatrick already has three wins on the European Tour and a Ryder Cup appearance to go along with his U.S. Amateur title he won at age 18. Fitzpatrick doesn’t have the eye-popping driving distance numbers and flashy game of some of his peers, but he belongs in the conversation with the likes of Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Thomas Pieters and others.

Not Lays, Ruffels
The youngest player in the field impressed as 18-year-old Australian phenom Ryan Ruffels opened up with a three under par 69, two shots back of Fitzpatrick and Grillo. Ruffels turned professional last year and attempted to earn his card via sponsors exemptions but failed to have a standout performance making four of seven cuts. Ruffels now has status on the Latin American Tour and is coming off a t11th finish at last week’s event. Ruffels is arguably the most talented player in the world under the age of 20 and a strong finish this week could be a launching pad to more PGA Tour starts and another run at earning his card.

Training Day
Jason Day was sharp after making his first start since his latest ailment. The world’s number two ranked player opened with a two-under par 70. While his tee to green game was suspect, his short game was sharp regularly getting up and down and flashing his elite putting ability. If Day’s ball-striking gets better through the weekend he should be in excellent position to defend his title and earn his first victory of 2017.

Coverage

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Tom Doak Podcast

This week, one of today’s most prolific architects, Tom Doak, joined the podcast. We talked about how he got into golf course architecture, his biggest influences, his career and projects, a unique project he would still love to do and his life as a golf critic. Due to Tom’s generosity with his time, we split the podcast into two parts. Listen using the links below:

Part I: Website link - iTunes link
Part II: Website link - iTunes link

In honor of this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, Skratch dug deep into the TOUR archives to remind fans of that one time Arnold Palmer won $100K with one putt.

Back to rookie status

A fresh face will make his Champions Tour debut and look to unseat Champions Tour King Bernhard Langer as the senior circuit’s top player. President’s Cup Captain and former world number two, Steve Stricker, will tee it up in the Tucson Conquistadores Classic looking to make a splash in his first start. Stricker will join other heralded Champions Tour rookies David Toms and Jerry Kelly, looking to bring a new level of competition for the dominant Bernhard Langer. When you couple the fact that Stricker is still very competitive on the PGA Tour with the Champions Tour’s benign setups which offer plentiful wedge shots (Stricker’s strength), he should be a cash machine on the Champions Tour.

Low scores galore

Playing in Phoenix, the LPGA’s Founders Cup is off to a sizzling start, with five players tied at the top of the leaderboard at 8-under par. World number two Ariya Jutanugarn, In Gee Chun, Stacy Lewis, Sandra Changkiji and Katie Burnett lead the way with an astounding 27 other players at five under or better. Full scores

Quick hooks

Cody Gribble is a lot more brave than I am.

He’s still got it, the Golden Bear beats his age by 6.

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Hot fire

Soly hosts the two time Arnold Palmer Invitational winner and former Florida star Matt Every who opens up about his life on Tour, things he would change and things he doesn’t like. If you like guys who tell it like it is, Every is your guy. Check out the podcast on the NLU website or iTunes.

On plane...

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