He shoots 66, basks in glow of partner Palmer at Bay Hill. Tiger one back.
By BOB HARIG
Published March 19, 2004
ORLANDO - Chad Campbell couldn't help but poke fun at himself. He grabbed a share of the first-round lead Thursday at the Bay Hill Invitational and remarked how nice it was to get a standing ovation and so much applause as he approached each green.
Of course, the cheering was not for him, but for Arnold Palmer, who played alongside Campbell and Mark O'Meara. Palmer, 74, shot a score he'd rather forget (88), but Campbell knew it would be a memorable day the moment he saw the pairing.
"It was quite an experience," said Campbell, who had never played with Palmer. "Definitely an honor to be able to get paired with him. We owe so much to him ... it was definitely a privilege.
"A lot of my buddies (who saw the pairings) were calling me saying, "You're playing with Arnold.' It was pretty exciting. I don't know how many more tournaments he's going to play, so it was nice to get a chance to play with him."
It was even nicer that Campbell played well. The winner of last year's Tour Championship and considered one of the PGA Tour's up-and-comers, Campbell, 29, was disappointed in his play earlier this year but made six birdies and no bogeys Thursday to shoot 66 and share the lead with Darren Clarke and Shigeki Maruyama.
They were just a shot ahead of Stuart Appleby, Zach Johnson, Jerry Kelly and Tiger Woods, who continued his mastery of Bay Hill.
Woods, 28, the four-time defending champion, made seven birdies and two bogeys, giving him six consecutive subpar rounds at Bay Hill Club and Lodge. In fact, Woods has played 16 of his last 17 under par.
Given that success, it was easy to start thinking about a fifth straight victory and PGA Tour history. When Woods won last year, he was the first since Gene Sarazen captured the 1930 Miami Open to win a tournament four straight times.
"Well, I haven't won it yet," Woods said. "A long way to go. Hopefully I have that chance. I've set myself up so far. I have three more rounds to go, a long way to go. I think it would be great. It would be one heck of an accomplishment to be able to do something no one's ever done.
"The sport has been played professionally for over 100 years, we have all the records. It doesn't happen very often that you get to do something no one has ever done before, and I've done it a few times so far in my career. Hopefully this week will be that again."
Woods did his damage on the par-5 holes, birdieing all four from close range. He two-putted from 35 feet at the 558-yard fourth, hit a bunker shot to 1 foot at the 558-yard sixth, hit another bunker shot within a foot at the 580-yard 12th and two-putted after a 4-iron approach at the 517-yard 16th.
"You have to," Woods said of dominating the par 5s on the 7,257-yard layout. "If you have the length, if you get the ball into play, I think the guys who have the length are going to have a chance to get home in two (shots), whether or not it's with a wood or with an iron. You have a chance to knock it on. If you hit the ball in play, it makes the par 5s so much easier here."
Woods played with Tom Watson, 54, who won the Byron Nelson Classic (1978-80) three straight years.
"He hit a beautiful shot on No. 4," Watson, who shot 70, said of the par 5. "A 2-iron from 260 yards into the wind on the green. That was very impressive to me. I can sort of remember doing that. But not from 260 yards."
Woods was in good position, but has plenty of competition. Aaron Baddeley, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Brad Faxon, Brian Gay, Todd Fischer, Scott Verplank and John Daly shot 68. In all, there were 49 players under par.
Campbell is just glad to be in the hunt. After his breakthrough season in 2003, he expected better this year, but didn't post a top 10 in a stroke-play event until tying for ninth last weekend at the Honda Classic.
"I've played pretty well the last two weeks," Campbell said, "but I was really excited about today and came out and hit a lot of good shots."