ORLANDO, Fla. -- There’s an old adage in golf: beware the sick golfer. Adam Scott proved it to be true again.
Scott, who was under the weather when he teed off Thursday morning at Bay Hill, tied the course record with a 10-under 62 to take a three-shot lead after the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
“It takes your mind off (golf),” Scott said of the flu-like symptoms he has experienced the last two days. “The expectations lower, slows you down and almost takes your mind off what's going on, because you're not even feeling human sometimes.
“I went out there today just trying to get the ball around. (I feel) pretty ordinary.”
His golf, however, was extraordinary.
The Aussie made two eagles and sank five putts from outside 20 feet on his way to matching his career-low round on a course he has at times not played well or played at all.
This is his first appearance since missing the cut in 2009 and just his second since 2007; his only top-10 in six previous starts came in 2004, when he tied for third.
“It's maybe a little surprising,” Scott said of his hot start. “I don't know where it came from, but the putter certainly got hot today.
"But I like the changes they've made since the times I have not been here. And today was just one of those days where the hole was a bit like a bucket."
MERRICK SHOOTS AGE ON BIRTHDAY: John Merrick turned 32 on Thursday, which is exactly what he closed in to shoot 65 and grab a share of second with Ryo Ishikawa.
“Being my birthday I kind of just walked out here with a smile on my face,” Merrick said. “I knew it was going to be a good day regardless and maybe didn’t worry much about how I was going to play.”
The UCLA alum made five birdies in a six-hole stretch over his final nine holes before his only bogey of the day on the par-4 eighth.
Merrick missed just two greens in regulation and had 28 putts, including one from 55 feet and another from 32 feet.
SNEDEKER SNAPPING OUT OF SLUMP?: How exactly would Brandt Snedeker characterize the first two months of his season?
“Not very good,” he said. “It's been tough to stomach.”
Thursday’s round was easier to swallow. He made five birdies and no bogeys en route to a 67 to put him in a tie for fifth.
It’s the first time Snedeker has broken 70 in the first round this season, and in nine starts he has just two top 25s.
“I'm a pretty quick starter out here,” he said. “This is the first time in my career I haven't played well to this point.”
Putting is one of the reasons. Usually one of the best with the fat stick, he came into this week 71st in strokes gained.
Thursday, Snedeker took just 25 putts.
Adam Scott leads after round 1 of Arnold Palmer
Adam Scott leads after round 1 of Arnold Palmer
ISHIKAWA HEALTHY AGAIN, PLAYING WELL: Last year, lower back problems plagued Ryo Ishikawa for much of the season.
Healthy again, he’s finally starting to play better. Each of the last two weeks the Japanese phenom has finished in the top 25 and on Thursday he was tied for second after the opening round at Bay Hill.
“That was a tough time for me,” Ishikawa said of last season when he struggled with his short game and was limited in practice because of his back. “But now my body works pretty good. And I can practice putting and chipping, two hours, three hours in a row.”
Ishikawa took just 25 putts in the opening round, making three of them from outside 10 feet on his way to eight birdies and just one bogey.
BUBBA WITHDRAWS BECAUSE OF ALLERGIES: Bubba Watson withdrew following his opening round, citing allergies.
He shot 83 that included an 11 on one hole. It was his highest score on the PGA TOUR since an 84 in the second round of the 2008 Memorial Tournament presented by Morgan Stanley.
Watson made one birdie, three bogeys and a triple bogey Thursday before hitting his tee shot into the water -- twice -- on the par-5 sixth (his 15th hole of the day). After finding land with his sixth shot, he laid up before two-putting from just inside 8 feet for the quintuple bogey.
He had played well coming into this week with a runner-up at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship two weeks ago and a win last month at the Northern Trust Open.
Watson also finished in the top 15 here each of the last two years, including a tie for fourth in 2012.
It's hard to focus when you're heads all discombobulated from medicine and pollen #spellcheck— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) March 20, 2014
CALL OF THE DAY: Bill Rosinski calls Adam Scott's final birdie of the day at the par-3 seventh on his way to a course-record tying 62 in the first round of the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational. Live play-by-play coverage from PGA TOUR Radio streams on Sirius 208, XM 93 and PGATOUR.COM via pgatour.com/liveaudio.