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Scott races out to 3-shot lead with a 62

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 21, 2014 at 3:07 am •  Published: March 21, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Adam Scott must have wondered why it took him five years to return to the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

This wasn't the Bay Hill anyone remembered. The sky was bright blue with warm sunshine. Wind was only a rumor. And the biggest difference was seeing a 10-under 62 next to Scott's name before half the field had even hit a shot.

"I remembered the golf course to certainly favor the way I play. I just had a few frustrating years here and left it off the schedule," Scott said after his record-tying round Thursday at gentle Bay Hill. "Coming back fresh was obviously a good thing. But I like the changes they've made since the time I have not been here. And today was just one of those days were the hole was a bit like a bucket."

Scott made five putts from about 20 feet or longer, two of them for eagle and one of them from off the green for birdie. Even with a bogey in the middle of his round, his 62 was the lowest at Bay Hill in 30 years. Greg Norman had a 62 in 1984, and Andy Bean shot 62 in 1981.

The result was a three-shot lead over Ryo Ishikawa and John Merrick, both of whom were 10 shots behind before they teed off.

"That took the pressure off," Merrick said. "You're already 10 shots behind, so it's not like you're protecting anything. But this isn't the Bay Hill I remember. I don't usually play golf in Florida without 20 mph wind."

Ishikawa makes Bay Hill his home base for practice when he's on the East Coast and has played the golf course plenty in the last few months. He made birdie on five of his last seven holes, with one bogey in that stretch, for a 7-under 65.

Merrick turned 32 on Thursday and reached 8 under for his round with four straight birdies. But his tee shot went too far and into a fairway bunker on No. 8, and he had to settle for a 65.

But this day was all about the Masters champion, who is in the final month of toting around that beautiful green jacket he won at Augusta National. Making his record-tying round even more surprising is that Scott was feeling ill when he arrived, and still felt "ordinary" as he played in the morning.

A hot putter cures all.

"I made a lot of putts today, and a lot of putts from considerable length," Scott said. "I hit a lot of nice shots, too, but it wasn't like I was hitting it 4 feet. I had a round like this in Australia at the end of last year — in the first six holes, I didn't hit it outside 5 feet. There's a lot of different ways to get the ball in the hole. But it's good for the confidence. It's what I wanted. I sat in here yesterday and said I'd like to make some birdies and build the confidence. And today is a good start to that."

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