2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational Leaderboard, scores: Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele chase Kurt Kitayama

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A day that started with world No. 1 Jon Rahm at the helm ends with Kurt Kitayama atop the leaderboard at the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational. With Rahm falling from 7 under to 3 under in an hour, the arena was given new life after the hottest player in the world graciously it opened the door for someone else to win a golf tournament.

Kitayama was the man to do the deed in the early hours of Friday, signing for a second round 68 to reach 9 under for the tournament. This number would be stable for the rest of the day despite the strong winds that were forecast for late afternoon.

During this time, Jordan Spieth charged to 7 under to position himself just behind Kitayama. While it’s Kitayama’s closest competition, it’s just one of the many big names within arm’s reach; they are joined by US Presidents Cup teammates Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas, Cameron Young and Scottie Scheffler on the first page of the leaderboard.

The leader

1. Kurt Kitayama (-9)

This time last year, Kitayama was ranked outside the top 250 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Securely inside the top 50 to start the week, the 30-year-old continues to put himself in position for his first victory on the PGA Tour. Kitayama has shown brilliance only to be outclassed by one of the game’s elites. Collecting three runner-up finishes in his last 23 starts, Kitayama came up short against Rahm at the Mexican Open, Schauffele at the Scottish Open and Rory McIlroy at the CJ Cup in South Carolina . If he is not careful, one of these names could be used again.

“I think I’ve put myself in good places. Right now I feel like I’m just trying to get that win, you know, it’s hard, honestly -especially with the guys I was up against,” Kitayama said. “So I’ve got to keep putting myself in that position to give myself a chance … You get a couple of good breaks and it’s your competition, really. So I’ve got to try to be up there until the end.”

Other contestants

2. Jordan Spieth (-7)

T3. Xander Schauffele, Corey Conners (-6)

T5. Patrick Cantlay, Davis Riley, Matt Fitzpatrick, Justin Thomas (-5)

T9. Cameron Young, Ludvig Aberg (a), Scottie Scheffler, Adam Scott (-4)

The highlight of this group is the presence of those who are usually absent from the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Before this week, Schauffele, Spieth, Thomas and Cantlay had combined for three matches in the tournament. With the established status of this year’s event, the best in the world are ensuring that their games travel regardless of the course.

Rahm is human after all

The world number 1 rode a hot finish ahead of the first round but the tables turned on Friday. Highlighted by a double bogey on the par-5 6th, Rahm played his last five holes in 4 times and went from leading this tournament to needing to play over the weekend. With his round of 4-over 76 – his worst score since the 2022 PGA Championship – he is 3 under and six shots behind Kitayama.

“Excuse me, but it’s f—– tough,” Rahm said with a laugh. “It’s tight, it’s fast and it’s blowing 30 miles an hour. It is a very difficult golf course. For most of the day I managed it. It’s just the last five holes, even though I didn’t feel like I was making bad shots. , I couldn’t quite get it going and I finished badly on the last part.”

Big day for another No.1

The world No. 1 in the professional rankings may not be in the top 10, but the amateur No. 2 in the world is. Texas Tech’s Ludvig Aberg shot back-to-back rounds of 70 to climb into a share of 10th place at the halfway mark. Aber is currently ranked No. 1 in the PGA Tour U Ranking, which is extremely important because the top player after finishing the NCAA Tournament will earn status on the PGA Tour.

“I think we’ve been talking about it and I think the more of these events you play, the easier it will be,” said Aberg. “It gives me a lot of knowledge about myself. Because obviously it brings out your game a lot more than a normal event does. We’re playing greens that move to pretty fast. Then you got wind and you got a tough golf course. it teaches you more about your game. I just try to enjoy it, try to accept it and take in more I can.”

2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational Renewal and Selections

Chance through Caesars sportsbook

  • Xander Schauffele (6-1)
  • Jordan Spieth (13/2)
  • Kurt Kitayama (17/2)
  • Scottie Scheffler (9-1)
  • Patrick Cantlay (9-1)
  • Justin Thomas (11-1)
  • John Rahm (11-1)
  • Corey Connors (14-1)
  • Matt Fitzpatrick (14-1)
  • Rory McIlroy (22-1)
  • Cameron Young (25-1)
  • Highest Homa (28-1)

Last year, Scheffler entered the weekend eight paces off the pace and continued Bay Hill’s history of catering to runners. The top of this year’s leaderboard is much stronger with the likes of Spieth, Thomas, Schauffele and more, but there may still be a crack to get in. It should be wide enough for a pair of intriguing outsiders: Cameron Young at 25-1 and Max Homa at 28-1.

Young was 8 under through 14 holes on Friday before finishing with two bogeys and a double. He drives the ball terribly and makes himself look good. Homa is in the same boat, albeit one stroke further back at 3 under. Homa is inside the top 10 in both strokes gained off the tee and approach strokes gained, and should make his way up the leaderboard if his game falls short.

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