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Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard

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If they were ever to do a Mount Rushmore of golfing legends, Arnold Palmer's now cragged face would make the perfect George Washington, with Sam Snead, Jack Nicklus and Tiger Woods ably filling in the rest of the mountain sculpture.

Still active in the game, Palmer is on hand this week as the host of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, being played at Orlando's Bay Hill Club & Lodge beginning Thursday.

A $6.2 million purse and 500 FedExCup points are on the line as players begin looking dead ahead to Augusta in April.

The tournament will be without two-time defending champion Tiger Woods, still ranked No. 1 in the world.

"I am certainly sorry that Tiger is not able to play.," Palmer said in a press release.

"Quite obviously, we will miss having him here this week. He called me to tell me that his back was still giving him a lot of trouble and he didn't feel he should play. I told him I understood and wished him well."

Woods won the event last year by two strokes over Justin Rose, and by five strokes over Graeme McDowell in 2012.

Even in a career as lofty as Woods', his dominance at Bay Hill is something to marvel at. He won the event four straight times from 2000-2003, and has won it eight times overall.

The first big trio to watch hits the back nine at 8:11 a.m. EDT on Thursday with Americans Bubba Watson, Brandt Snedeker and Rickie Fowler together.

At 8:23 a.m, also on the back nine, defending Masters champion Adam Scott, defending US open champ Justin Rose and American Patrick Reed hit the links.

03/20/14, Thursday

No Tiger Woods? Not to worry thanks to the talented field at Bay Hill.

Masters defending champion Adam Scott made the throngs at the Arnold Palmer Invitational forget all about the absent two-time defending champion by tying the course record with a 10-under 62 to open up a four-stroke lead on Thursday.

It's been 30 years since a player shot 62 at Bay Hill - that being Greg Norman in 1984. Andy Bean also was 10-under in 1981.

Most years, Scott wouldn't even be here, typically playing Innisbrook instead, but decided to play Bay Hill with the European Tour on a break this week. It is his first time at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in five years.

Amazingly, Scott complained of flu-like symptoms upon arriving at the tournament, which likely will have the rest of the field trying to find someone contagious before Friday morning.

Scott could have broken the course record except he bogeyed No. 18. Up to that point, his round consisted of two eagles, seven birdies and eight pars.

Japan's Ryo Ishikawa and the US' John Merrick are tied for second at 7-under. Both men had rounds of eight birdies and one bogey.

Spain's Gonzalo Fdez-Castano is alone in fourth at 6-under. Fedz-Catano was just 1-under at the turn, then rattled off five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine.

There's a six-way tie for fifth at 5-under that includes American Brandt Snedeker.

Sixty players in all are below par through the first 18 holes.

Other scores of note include: Graeme McDowell (-4); Henrik Stenson (-3); Davis Love III (-2); Hunter Mahan (-2); Justin Rose (-1) and Angel Cabrera (-1).

On the extreme opposite end of the spectrum, Bubba Watson withdrew after firing an 11-over 83 on Thursday that feature an ugly 11 on the par-5 No. 6 and a triple bogey 7 on No. 18.

03/21/14, Friday

Adam Scott didn't replicate his 62 from Thursday during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Friday, but his 68 was more than enough to keep him leading the field.

Scott's 4-under 68, in which he nailed five birdies in an eight-hole span, extended his lead to seven strokes.

Through 36 holes, he is 14-under with a 130, matching the record through two rounds held jointly by Andy Bean and Tom Watson.

It's the biggest lead through 36 holes in the tournament's history.

Three players are tied for second at 7-under: J.B. Holmes, Chesson Hadley and Francesco Molinari.

The low score of the round came from Keegan Bradley, who fired a 67 on the windy day, putting him 8 back alongside Brandt Snedeker and Jamie Donaldson.

Arnold Palmer's grandson, Sam Saunders, fired a 71 and is in a tie for 16th.

03/22/14, Saturday

If Adam Scott isn't carefeul, he's going to have a fight on his hands on the final day of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Scott hit a 1-under 71 but saw his lead shrink from seven strokes to just three through 54 holes of the tournament at Bay Hill in Orlando.

Scott, the defending Masters champion, is 15-under through 54 holes after starting the tournament with a 10-under 62 on Thursday.

He has a three-stroke lead over Keegan Bradley, who fired three straight birdies to close his round. Matt Every and Jason Kokrak are both four strokes back, both angling for their first win on tour.

03/23/14, Sunday

Adam Scott's scores kept going up, and American Matt Every was the one who finally took advantage.

Every's 2-under 70 on Sunday was enough to leapfrog Scott, who bombed out with a 4-over 76, blowing what was once a 7-stroke lead and missing the chance to take over ast the new No. 1 golfer in the world.

Every finished 13-under despite a sluggish finish that saw him bogey both No. 16 and No. 18, giving Keegan Bradley a shot at the title.

Bradley had been in the best position to catch Scott, sitting three strokes behind him at the start of the day, but he was 3-over through 11 holes thanks to three bogesy and a double.

Bradley rallied for three birdies on his last six holes, including back to back on No. 16 and 17, but couldn't quite close the gap all the way.

Scott was in trouble early, with two bogeys in his first three holes. He managed a birdie on No. 4, but never had another one after amassing 18 birdies and two eagles through his first 54 holes.

Jason Kokrak slipped to a 1-over 73 to finish fourth at 10-under, followed by three players tied for fifth including last year's FedExCup champion Henrik Stenson, who hit a 4-under 68, playing a bogey-free round.

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