Mar 17th, 2017
Charley Hoffman storms Bay Hill
Words: Tim Southwell Photography: Getty
Where has Charley Hoffman been all year? Up until today, he'd missed the cut in three of four starts and broken par just twice in those 10 rounds.
Now he's blasted his way to the top of the leader board at Bay Hill after shooting 68-66.
He’s making his first start here since 2013 after a missed cut at last week’s Valspar Championship left him out of the field for next week’s World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.
“I wasn’t in the Match Play," says Charley. "And then obviously honoring Arnie is not a hard thing to come here and (do). He was what we all wanted to be. Great with the fans. He was the guy (who) sort of paved the way for us. I didn’t spend a lot of time with him, but just meeting him here and there was always an honor.”
Matt Fitzpatrick made five birdies and two bogeys in a three-under-par round to end on eight under, one behind Emiliano Grillo and two adrift of Hoffman.
Paul Casey (72) is four under, while Australia's world number two Jason Day moved to three under with a 71.
Rory McIlroy is one over following a dramatic outward nine in a round of 71.
The Northern Irishman, ranked third, opened on the back nine with two bogeys, before a birdie, an eagle and a double bogey when he found the water on the 16th.
Hoffman, 40, bogeyed the opening hole but then made seven birdies to reach the halfway mark at 10 under par.
"If you get in the fairway you can sort of attack. The greens are surprisingly receptive. You can shoot at some of those pins that in the past you haven't and I was able to take advantage of it. I'm pretty happy. I hope I can keep it going the next few days."
Fitz closed with back-to-back birdies to stay very much in contention.
"It was a good day," he said. "I didn't feel quite as in control of the golf ball as I did yesterday but I made a couple of good putts coming in and made a good score."
Gonna be a hell of a moving day.