Scott fires 62, leads by 3 at Bay Hill

Orlando, FL ( - Adam Scott fired a 10-under 62 on Thursday and grabbed a 3-stroke lead after the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Scott's 62 at Bay Hill tied the course record set by Andy Bean in 1981 and matched by Greg Norman in 1984. It was the sixth time Scott shot 62 on the PGA Tour.

Ryo Ishikawa and John Merrick carded 7-under 65s to share second place and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano was alone in fourth at minus-6.

Brandt Snedeker posted a 5-under 67 and was joined in fifth place by Paul Casey, Jamie Donaldson, Francesco Molinari, Jason Kokrak and Morgan Hoffmann.

Tiger Woods, who won the tournament for an eighth time last year, withdrew earlier in the week due to back spasms and Bubba Watson pulled out after his round due to severe allergies.

Scott started his round on the back nine and opened by sinking a 19-foot birdie effort on his first hole. At the par-5 12th, he got up and down for birdie from a greenside bunker.

The Australian, who is making his first start at this event since 2009, ran home a 26-footer for birdie on the 14th and made it two row as he birdied the 15th from a few feet further out.

Scott found the par-5 16th green in two and poured in a 36-foot putt for eagle to jump to minus-6. Two holes later, Scott found the left rough off the tee and left his second shot in the rough. He hit the green with his third, then 2-putted for bogey to make the turn at 5-under.

Around the turn, Scott kept rolling. He birdied the third from nine feet out, then drained a 19-footer for eagle on the fourth. At the next par-5, the sixth, he got up and down for birdie.

Scott birdied the par-3 seventh from off the green to move to 10-under. He could have gone lower, but failed to convert his birdie efforts on eight and nine.

"It's maybe a little surprising. I don't know where it came from, but the putter certainly got hot today," said Scott, who is making his third start in four weeks after a six-week break. "I just had a few frustrating years here and left it off the schedule. 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 where the hole was a bit like a bucket."

Ishikawa started his round with birdies on the fourth and sixth, both par-5s. He rolled in a 14-footer for birdie on the eighth and made the turn at minus-3.

After three straight pars, Ishikawa made a 4-footer for birdie on 12 and made it two in a row with a 14-foot birdie effort on the 13th.

Ishikawa's momentum was halted when he missed the green on the par-3 14th for a bogey. He bounced back with a 12-foot birdie effort on the 15th and made it two in a row with a 2-putt birdie on the par-5 16th.

The 22-year-old closed with a 6-foot birdie putt at the last to grab a share of second.

"This is my base here in the states, so I practice here a lot," said Ishikawa, who had his best round ever at this event. "Everything is in perfect shape and the wind had calmed down. I'm swinging the club very good too."

Merrick poured in a 55-footer on the 11th to get his round going. He made an 11-foot try at 14 and a 32-foot putt at the 18th to turn in minus-3.

Last year's Northern Trust winner birdied No. 2 from 14 feet out. After a par on the third, Merrick flew up the leaderboard.

Merrick birdied the fourth and fifth, both from inside six feet. At the par-5 sixth, Merrick 2-putted for birdie from 41 feet away and he made it four in a row from a 4-foot birdie putt on the seventh.

That burst moved him into second place at minus-8. However, he found sand with his approach at the par-4 eighth. Merrick blasted out and 2-putted for bogey. He parred the ninth, his last, to share second.

"Not an easy course, we just had a calm day today and the greens were pretty soft, so it was there for the taking, but it's usually like that," said Merrick, who turned 32 on Thursday. "Nice to get off to a good start."

NOTES: Scott's 3-stroke lead matches the largest first-round lead in event history ... Scott was the 21st player to have two eagles in one round this season ... Only three first-round leaders have won this season on the PGA Tour.