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Soft Bay Hill yields record round to Scott; 75 players shoot par or better

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The word at the Bay Hill Club this week was that Arnold Palmer wanted his golf course to play like a U.S. Open from the tee, and August National around the greens.

And while that may very well happen by the weekend if the rain stays away, today in the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Bay Hill played more like a very plush and upscale muni.

Adam Scott took the biggest advantage of the soft conditions at Bay Hill, equaling the course record with a 10-under-par 62, giving him a three-shot lead over John Merrick and Ryo Ishikawa. It was the lowest round in 30 years at Bay Hill, equaled by Greg Norman in 1984.

"Obviously I'm really thrilled with the start today,” said Scott, the current Masters champion. “It's maybe a little surprising. I don't know where it came from, but the putter certainly got hot.”

Scott wasn’t alone. An Astounding 63 percent of the field shot par or better on a course that was softened up by rain on Tuesday. Compare that to the 2013 edition, when only 33 players were under par for the entire week.

Among the reasons for the outstanding scoring were the ideal weather conditions and the beautiful condition of the golf course. All players have been singing its praise this week, including the tournament host.

“The golf course has never been better,” said Palmer.

Other notables from the first round: Brandt Snedeker 67, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell 68, Patrick Reed 69, Zach Johnson and Justin Rose, 71.

The featured pairing in round two goes off the first tee at 1:08: Scott, Reid and Rose.

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