ORLANDO – “Last week I sucked the whole week. Today was just kind of a gradual sucking all day. But it just, it sucked.”
Matt Every couldn’t have assessed his second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational any more honestly than the summation above after he tumbled out of the tournament one day after leading it.
A two-time winner at Bay Hill Club – back to back, in fact, in 2014-15 – Every followed his opening round 7-under-par 65 with an 11-over 83 that was as bad as you could imagine. On Thursday, amid freshening breezes, he toured Bay Hill without a bogey while converting seven birdies. On Friday, with light winds still complicating things, he had one birdie, four bogeys and four double bogeys.
It's unusual but not unprecedented for a first-round leader to miss the cut. Rod Pampling led the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie after one day and then blew up. Davis Love III, who twice won The Players, saw a first-round lead there dissolve into an early ticket home in the 2006 edition at TPC Sawgrass.
When he made his only birdie at the par-5 16th, Every was 1 over and still inside the cutline. Then he finished with a bogey on 17 after missing a five-foot par save and a double bogey on 18 after three-putting.
It was a shocking end to the week for the 36-year-old Daytona Beach native, who considers this event his home tournament, having come here as a kid.
"It stinks for me because I really wanted to play well and I really didn't see this coming, to be honest," Every said. "But it happens. It just happens to me ... it kind of happens to me quite a lot."
Coming off an 85 in the second round of the Honda Classic, Every felt like he had his game in order when he visited with his swing coach over the weekend and adjusted the lie of his irons. But whatever fixes he made didn’t hold, and he suffered his fourth score in the 80s in his last 11 competitive rounds going back to the 82 he shot in the final round of The American Express in La Quinta, Calif. He also had an 80 in the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am after starting the day in contention.
He searched for an explanation for his struggles. He is battling a bad back, but he didn’t cite the injury as an excuse. The Arnold Palmer Invitational was Every’s seventh event since the PGA Tour suspended him for three months after testing positive for cannabis. Every had been using it to combat mental health issues.
Friday’s proceedings undoubtedly didn’t do much for his disposition. He wasn’t sure when he was going to compete again.
“Today was rough. It was just tough,” he said. “I really didn't feel like I played that bad. I just didn't make anything and then missed the fairway here and it's … I just played bad. That's what it is. It was just a bad day.”