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Arnold Palmer Invitational

Co-leader’s three-putt from three feet shows you how crazy hard Bay Hill is playing on Sunday

March 06, 2022

Sam Greenwood

If you’ve been watching the PGA Tour at all in 2022, you know that low scores have been the storyline pretty much every week. Really low scores. Record-breaking low scores. Scores where pars are not even close to being your friend. The average winning 72-hole total in the eight events played on tour this calendar year has been 19.875 under par. Take out the 10 under that Sepp Straka won with last week at the Honda Classic and it was 21.29.

Which is why this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational has looked like an entirely different game than anything we’ve seen so far this year. Entering the final round, Billy Horschel and Talor Gooch shared the lead at seven under, with firm and fast conditions suggesting a double-digit winning score after 72 holes would be unlikely come Sunday. The last PGA Tour event outside the majors where the winning score was only single digits under par was Jon Rahm's playoff win at the 2020 BMW Championship where he shot a four-under total.

And, indeed, it’s been more of the same so far on Sunday at Bay Hill. When Lucas Herbert, who teed off at 10:20 a.m., posted a four-under 68, the round at that moment was 7.804 strokes better than the field average for the final round. He started the round tied for 33rd but jumped inside the top 10 by the time he closed things out on the 18th hole.

Just how treacherous is it out there? Consider the start that Gooch got off to. The co-leader made bogeys on his first two holes, but a birdie on the par-4 third allowed him to keep his share of the lead while playing the fifth hole. There, Gooch hit his approach to just outside 21 feet, giving him seemingly a chance to take the outright lead.

But Gooch’s birdie putt came up a surprising 2½ feet short, and then … well … we said the greens at Bay Hill were fast.

Going from having a chance at taking the outright lead, to falling two shots behind was brutal. And it was a mistake that was compounded when he topped a shot out of a fairway bunker on the par-5 sixth to set up a bogey, then made another double bogey on the par-4 eighth, to all but take him out of the tournament.

At just before 4 p.m., NBC's announcers noted that there had been 55 double bogeys shot on the day at Bay Hill, which was already more than final round so far in the 2021-22 tour season.