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March 23 2012

12:21 AM

Wi sets sights on better scores

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

ORLANDO -- Charlie Wi fielded the questions about the 13 he made last Sunday on the fifth hole at Innisbrook  with characteristic good humor.

"Actually I figured I should have gone for some TOUR record so at least I could be remembered," Wi said with a wry smile.

For the record, he was five shots shy of the dubious mark that John Daly set on the sixth hole at Bay Hill in 1998. And besides, Wi had much better things to discuss on Thursday after firing a 66 at Bay Hill to share the lead with Jason Dufner at the Arnold Palmer Invitation presented by MasterCard.
 
"The golf course is playing very difficult," Wi said. "It was really windy this morning starting right off the bat and I was able to control the ball really well.  I gave myself a lot of opportunities and I was able to make some putts I'm very pleased with 66."

Given his track record at Bay Hill, the round of 6 under was even more special. Granted, it matched his career-best here -- but it also marked just the second time he'd broken par in 10 rounds at Palmer's personal playground.

"I haven't had too many strong finishes and I've never really done well here," said Wi, who has missed two cuts, withdrawn once and tied for 24th last year. "If I had shot a couple under today before I teed off, I would have been very pleased so to shoot 66 is a pleasant surprise."

Don't think he didn't come to Bay Hill with high hopes, though. "I'm still a competitor," Wi said. "I want to do well, so when the birdies are going in, I was making sure that I kept pressing myself to make some more."

Wi, who finished second at Pebble Beach earlier this year as Phil Mickelson tried to lap the field, was solid  overall, hitting 10 fairways and 14 greens while using just 28 putts. The 40-year-old made seven birdies and dropped just one shot to par on Thursday.

At one point, though, Bay Hill wasn't exactly on Wi's list of favorite courses. Two par 5s -- Nos. 4 and 16 -- were converted to par 4s for the tournament, and "I told my caddie, I said this course isn't for me," Wi recalled. "... I just thought it was too much of a bomber's golf course and I just couldn't compete."

Once the holes were restored to par 5s, Wi's attitude changed. Someone suggested the par was just a number, but he simply grinned. "Yeah, but I was immature back then," Wi said, smiling again.

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