ORLANDO, Fla. – The names at the top of the leaderboard midway through the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill are Charley Hoffman, Emiliano Grillo and Matthew Fitzpatrick.
By Sunday afternoon, this tournament will finally be about one of them or someone else who changes the storyline over the weekend.
Until then, this is all about Arnold Palmer.
This tournament has had just the right touch in honoring Palmer, whether it’s parking his cart near the 16th tee looking toward the 18th green, speckling the course with umbrellas in the familiar red, yellow and green colors of his brilliant logo or any of the various other ways – big and small – that he is being celebrated.
Sam Saunders, who has been both graceful and eloquent as the face of the family since the passing of his grandfather last fall, missed the cut by one stroke Friday, denying the tournament an emotional connection between the ropes.
Otherwise, it’s been heartwarming to see the umbrella logo on golf bags, shirts and caps this week. In a city built around its tourist attractions, the immense new statue of Palmer that sits near Bay Hill’s first tee has become an automatic photo opp for fans who cluster around it all day.
“It’s great week and we all miss him dearly,” Lucas Glover said. “He was a legend and I’m not sure any of us would be here at the height that we are in this game without him. So, tip of the hat to Mr. Palmer and everything he’s done for the game and for us.”