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Levin leads by 3 in wind

Spencer Levin shoots 6-under 66, one of three rounds in the 60s on a blustery day that has Tiger Woods tossing a club and Transitions champion Gary Woodland shooting 77 at Bay Hill.

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Spencer Levin shoots 6-under 66, one of three rounds in the 60s on a blustery day that has Tiger Woods tossing a club and Transitions champion Gary Woodland shooting 77 at Bay Hill.

ORLANDO — Spencer Levin was atop the leaderboard after the opening round for the third time this year, so that was nothing new. It was his score Thursday afternoon at Bay Hill that surprised him and everyone else.

In warm, blustery conditions on a course that allowed only three rounds in the 60s and the most rounds in the 80s in nearly two decades, Levin had 6-under 66 and a three-shot lead over Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Tiger Woods played with Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland. Woodland (77), who won last week's Transitions Championship at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, hit a tee shot onto another course. Johnson (77) wound up 80 yards over a green and onto the next tee. Woods (73) angrily tossed his wedge after one shot.

Woods missed a 10-foot par putt on the last hole and had his highest opening round since 74 in 1999 at Bay Hill, where he is a six-time winner.

Levin built the largest 18-hole lead of the year on the PGA Tour. His 66 was nearly nine shots better than the average score at Bay Hill, which featured gusts over 20 mph and crusty conditions in the afternoon.

Fowler and Mahan played in the morning, as did Phil Mickelson, who shot 70.

The tough conditions showed themselves more at the bottom of the leaderboard. U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell had 80, as did Bob Hope winner Jhonattan Vegas and Brandt Snedeker. Ricky Barnes shot 82.

There were 13 rounds in the 80s, the most at Bay Hill since there were 24 in the second round in 1983.

"Six under …I didn't really even think about that on the range," Levin said. "Because I know the course is hard, anyway, and then you have 20, 30 mile per hour wind and makes it even more tough. I was just kind of hoping anything around par, maybe anything under par, would be a good score."

Woods struggled with his tee shots on the front nine and didn't hit a single fairway. .

"Hit my irons well all day, and on the green it was just tough to take the putter back straight because the wind was gusting and it was tough to get the right speed," Woods said.

Mickelson was pleased with his short game, especially on the greens. He took only 26 putts. "It was a good opening round," he said. Conditions are expected to improve today.

lpga: Amanda Blumenherst birdied the final four holes for 7-under 66 and a one-stroke lead over Sanda Gal in the Kia Classic in Industry, Calif. Michelle Wie birdied the par-5 18th for 68, returning to the tour after finishing final exams at Stanford. Top-ranked Yani Tseng, the winner of the season-opening LPGA Thailand and three other worldwide events this year, opened with 71. Karrie Webb, coming off her second straight victory Sunday in Phoenix, shot 72, and Brittany Lincicome of Seminole shot 73.

Levin leads by 3 in wind 03/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2011 11:03pm]

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