Laird Set To Celebrate 10th Anniversary With A Second Arnie’s Victory At Bay Hill

Martin Laird brushed overnight leader Rory McIlroy aside to move just a shot from the lead as he looks to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his first win with a second Arnold Palmer Invitational success.

Laird grabbed an eagle and five birdies in a five-under par 69 for an eight-under par tally and just a shot behind Florida-based Canadian Corey Conners who signed for a 69 and move to nine-under par.

Three players – McIroy (71), Norwegian sensation Viktor Hovland (68) and American Lanto Griffin (68) – share third place on seven-under par.

Bryson DeChambeau (71) is a shot further back on six-under par.

It’s 10-years since legendary Arnold Palmer handed a then 28-year-old, long-haired Laird his second Tour trophy.

And Laird says he’s been energised to capture what would now be a fifth PGA victory, and a second in nine starts in the 2020/21 wraparound season, a decade on from winning at Arnie’s home

He said: “I have good feelings about this place after winning here, but this course, I like it, it’s a hard golf course.

“I feel like it’s a course you really got to pick your spots where to — there’s two or three times I said to my caddie, it doesn’t even matter where the pin is, you’re just trying to get it to the middle of the green.

“And I like golf courses like that where you really got to pick your way around it and pick your spots to be aggressive.

“So, hopefully I can keep making good decisions the next two rounds and see what happens.”

Laird went into the second round after four birdies in an opening day 69 and quickly made the five birdies in 20 holes when the Denver-based Scot chipped-in from 20-feet at the second hole.

The World No. 93 picked-up a second birdie of his day holing an 18-footer at the seventh hole but went seven-feet better at the par-4 10th hole in sending his 25-footer to the bottom of the cup.

Laird then went past McIlroy in sensational style splitting the par-5 12th hole with a 300-yard drive and then sent his second to the front edge of the green and knocked his 14-footer into the cut for an eagle ‘3’.

The Scot dropped a shot on 14 but got it back in two-putting the par-5 15th.

And then at the last, the clearly pumped Laird sent a 312-yard drive up the 18th and looking on disbelief when his 10-footer for birdie just missed it’s mark.

The effort is Laird’s lowest opening 36-hole tally since he was 16-under after two days on route to his Shriners Hospital Open play-off triumph in Las Vegas last November.

But it also comes off missing the halfway cut in his last three events.

Laird said: “There’s nothing really clicked in my last three events.

“I played really well the second round in L.A., barely missed the cut after a terrible first round. I knew my game was pretty good, I’ve been getting a little impatient on the golf course the last few weeks and really made a conscious effort these last, the second round in LA and then this week, to just not worry about anything else, just focus on myself and stay as patient as I can.

“And it’s been paying off.”










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