ORLANDO, Fla. – Tyrrell Hatton lost his swing on his back nine without losing his head, a small victory. On Friday he faced a tough test in Bay Hill and was only surprised at what he saw when he finished.
His tidy short game was strong enough to take him ahead with Sung Kang who went to the Arnold Palmer Invitational over the weekend.
“I had no idea where he was going,” said Hatton after a 3-under 69 in a wind that came from the opposite direction. “Just happy to enter the club house without damage, really.”
Kang has killed four of his last seven holes for a 68.
Matt Every thought was fantastic that his 65 in the opening round was 20 better shots than his previous round in the PGA Tour. The following day was not so impressive 18 more points, an 83 that allowed him to join to the wrong list in the annals of the PGA Tour going from the 18-hole advantage to the free weekend.
He has lost the cut of a blow.
“I really didn’t see it coming, to be honest,” said Every, who is rarely anything but honest. “But it happens. In a way, it happens to me quite a lot.”
His last three rounds in the PGA Tour date back to a week ago at the Honda Classic: 85-65-83. He was his first player from Camilo Villegas in the 2013 Honda Classic to go from the first round to a missed cut.
Talor Gooch did a little better. He followed a 67 with an 80 and cut the number.
Phil Mickelson, who opened with a 77, punched a 239-yard 5-inch iron on the water at 7 feet for an eagle on the sixth par-5 to get the three-hole cutting number to play. He ended up with a double bogey and this year he missed the cut for the fourth time.
It is the first time in 25 years that Mickelson has lost four cuts before the Masters.
“I thought it was a really difficult golf course, and I liked the challenge of trying to play in this kind of conditions,” said Mickelson. “And I’m a little frustrated that I didn’t leave at the beginning of your year that I would like. I don’t get discouraged. I don’t feel so far.”
Henrik Stenson also opened with a 77. He struggled to give himself the chance to cut. And he also took a double bogey in his last hole to skip the cut for the second time in 12 appearances in Bay Hill.
The average score was 74.08, the highest in Bay Hill since the 2011 opening round.
And he left a 69-man camp for the weekend that is up for grabs.
Hatton and Kang were at 7-under 137, the highest score to take on Bay Hill in 10 years.
Danny Lee had the low group of the day, a 67, which left a shot behind him.
McIlroy, Honda Classic winner Sungjae Im (69) and Harris English (70) were two shots behind 5 under. Another draw back was a group that included Patrick Reed, who had another 70 in his offer to win his second consecutive tournament.
Hatton is making up for lost time from an accident in the strangest places. He was participating in the Par 3 Tournament to the Masters three years ago, when he was blocked by storms and slipped on pine straw, injuring his right wrist as he prepared for the fall. He tried to shoot cortisone to buy time and finally felt that the only option was surgery after the European Tour ended his season last November.
The Englishman came out longer than expected, but returned to Mexico City by winning for sixth place at the World Golf Championships, and now has a 36-hole share of the advantage at Bay Hill.
McIlroy was happy to be still within range.
His lap looked as though he could be canceled when he was caught in the trees to the right of the eighth fairway and double bogey, this after a long-distance three-put bogey on the seventh par-3.
He killed his next hole, limited the errors to one bogey on the back nine and ended up in good shape.
“It was a struggle. I think I made it more tiring than necessary,” said McIlroy. “The conditions were difficult, the greens are firming up, the wind has gone from a different direction today, so this has also made things a little interesting … They are still there in the golf tournament.”