Scheffler, Clark, Harman overcome tough greens and thick rough at Arnold Palmer

Remember how Arnold Palmer used to get himself into bad situations, hitch up his pants, and slash his way out? Well, honestly, most of us don’t remember because it was before our time, but we know he did it. Today, Bay Hill played the way we presume Palmer wanted it. Tough layout. Tough rough. Tough greens. A manly golf course.  

Scottie Scheffler - Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard
Scottie Scheffler - Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard / Brennan Asplen/GettyImages

It didn’t bother, Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris, and Wyndham Clark who took an express elevator up the leaderboard and are tied for the lead with Shane Lowry, Hideki Matsuyama, and Russell Henley at 7-under par.

Scheffler, who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational two years ago, began his day at 2-under par and ended at 7-under. It was on the back nine that he really made his mark with an eagle at the 12th and three birdies on the backside. All of a sudden, he was tied for the lead.

British Open champ Brian Harman had one bogey, and that was at the final hole. He sprinkled five birdies throughout his round, three on the front and two on the back.  

“It was pretty solid,” he said after his round. “Didn't really get out of position much. Only had to save par a couple times. Only bogey on the 18th. Just hit a wayward drive.”

U.S. Open champ Wyndham Clark was 6-under par for his round, a round that included nine birdies and three bogeys. For certain, the course played a bit like a U.S. Open, so it must have appealed to his strength.  

When asked what was the best putt he made, he had the answer ready,

“The bogey putt on 12 was about a 5-footer,” he said. “There's hardly any grass on the greens right now, they're so fast. That putt could have wiggled off line, and making a double there on essentially a birdie hole on the 12th would have been terrible”

He said it gave him momentum.

“Then I proceeded to birdie five of the last six,” Clark added.

Will Zalatoris made a huge move with two birdies on the front nine at the 6th and 7th, and even though he hit rough off the tee on the 10th, he didn’t bogey. 

“I've had years here where I shot 150 on the weekend and I moved up. So it's just staying patient. It's a grind,” he said.

Should he go on to win, players may be looking to copy his new method of using a shorter driver shaft instead of a longer one and going for slightly less distance and hitting fairways.

Others scratched and clawed their way to the weekend.

Rory McIlroy was at 1-over par when he started his second round. He got into a trend where he’d make a birdie and then a bogey so he couldn’t make up ground, but didn’t lose any either. Finally, he made two birdies at the 13th and 16th without making a bogey and got himself back to 1-under par and in safe territory for the weekend.

He said he had worked with Brad Faxon at the Genesis and the Cognizant.

“Going over to the West Coast for a couple of events can always, putting on that poa can, once you lose a touch of confidence, then you can start to, yeah, just start to not feel great with the putter,” he admitted.  

This season McIlroy’s150th in strokes gained putting and 1st in total driving. Everyone knows what will happen if he gets the putter organized.

Patrick Cantlay moved up five places with an even par round that had four birdies and four bogeys. On two of the bogeys, he was in the rough off the tee. One of them, he was short of the green.    

Justin Thomas hit too close to a tree and into water in his round.

“I hit some God-awful shots that, really, all my over par holes were literally just four swings,” he said when he was finished with round two. 

The greens were so firm that Thomas mentioned to his caddie that they were making a noise when the ball landed on them.

He had a double on the 8th, which was where he found tree interference and had to hit off pine straw.

Next. 2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational Power Ranks. Arnold Palmer Invitational Power Rankings. light

More brutality is predicted for Saturday.