Some traditions are more special than others. Case in point is the 37th playing of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard, which begins today here at Bay Hill Club & Lodge. There will be great golf on a storied golf course, and charity will be the ultimate winner, as the core missions of this prestigious event are fulfilled.
As patrons stroll the grounds of the award-winning Bay Hill Club & Lodge and the challenging Champions Course, they'll find plenty to see and do as golf and philanthropy are celebrated.
The featured event commences at 9 a.m. EDT with the Champions for Arnold's Kids Pro-Am, a special day of golf, which began in 2007. Once again the popularity of this event has been verified with another sellout. The golf professionals are lining up to show their support as well, with former major champions headlining. That group includes Padraig Harrington, Retief Goosen, David Duval, Trevor Immelman and Orlando's own Lee Janzen, the two-time U.S. Open winner.
All proceeds from this event benefit the Arnold Palmer Medical Center. "We are pleased by how popular this pro-am has become and that we can kick off such a tremendous week of golf with an event that is sure to be entertaining for fans and also fulfills one of Arnold Palmer's most important goals: giving back to his Army of fans who might need help," Scott Wellington, the tournament's Executive Director, said. "Of course, this is just one of many highlights of the week here at Bay Hill, and we are excited about the rest of the week."
Today is officially known as "The First Tee of Central Florida Youth Day Sponsored by Coca-Cola." All kids under 17 get in free with a paid adult. In conjunction, a special youth clinic will be held later today. Starting at 4:30 p.m. on the Bay Hill Club driving range, Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters champion, will conduct The Arnold Palmer Invitational Junior Clinic. Watson, who won the Northern Trust Open earlier this year, is known for his imaginative shot-making and his mammoth drives off his hot pink driver.
The field for the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard is one of the strongest on the PGA TOUR this year, and the competition begins at 7:30 a.m. ET Thursday off both the No. 1 and No. 10 tees on the Championship Course.
The top five players in the Official World Golf Ranking will be competing, led by No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making his debut in Palmer's tournament. McIlroy, 25, of Northern Ireland, already has one victory this year, at the Dubai Classic on the European Tour, and he has won the last two majors contested, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship.
Completing the top five coming to Bay Hill are No. 2 Bubba Watson, who is the reigning Masters champion, No. 3 Henrik Stenson, who won the 2013 FedExCup title, No. 4 Adam Scott, and No. 5 Jason Day.
"We're especially proud of the quality of the field that will be here this year," Arnold Palmer said. "I am particularly pleased that Rory is going to be playing. The schedule hasn't worked out for him in the past, but he told me he would play when he could. He's is making good on his word and we look forward to having him."
Before the regular competition, another pro-am is slated for Wednesday featuring many of the game's leading players. Meanwhile, Tuesday's lineup of activities, which includes practice rounds for all 120 players in the field, also offers special events.
Palmer continues his goal of expanding Arnie's Army by putting on a special one-day event: Arnie's March Against Children's Cancer Presented by BMO Harris Bank. The event begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the green at No. 8. Fans can show their support for young cancer patients and their families by logging on to ArniesMarch.com to donate or join us in walking here at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, where they will be joined by families, friends, and special guests from the world of professional golf.
Also, Tuesday is the second annual Astellas Executive Women's Day, which offers an all-day forum focusing on various topics important to professional women, including corporate leadership, career development and networking. The program begins at 8:30 a.m.
For more information on Tuesday's events, as well as special activities for the remainder of the week and ways to donate to charity, visit ArnoldPalmerInvitational.com.