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The #1 Ball at the Arnold Palmer Invitational: Facts, Figures and Social Buzz

“It’s going to be a special week for our family and this week everyone feels like family. And I know my grandfather is proud of the remarks, the tributes, the dedications that everyone is making on his behalf and it's been a wonderful start to the week and it's only going to get better.”

These were the remarks of Titleist golf ball loyalist Sam Saunders (Pro V1x) on Wednesday as he welcomed the media just before the Opening ceremony to kick off the the 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational. It was a bittersweet moment for Saunders, who is the grandson of the tournament’s namesake. Palmer passed away in September after a legendary career and a lifetime of service to the game.

 “I think my grandfather's legacy speaks for itself,” Saunders said. “He made a mark on this game that will probably never be equalled. And we're all here in a way because of him and it's such a special week and the players are all here to pay tribute to that. They're here from their heart. They're playing because they know that my grandfather was able to give them a career, give them an opportunity to play golf for a living, and to give the media a chance to cover what we do.”

The tournament purse has been from $6.3 million to $8.7 million this year and in honor of Arnold Palmer, the PGA Tour is granting the tournament elevated status, extending the winner exempt Tour status for three years (vs. the standard two-year exemption).

Saunders got off to a fast start as he began his second round at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, birdieing two of his first three holes. Sitting at even-par at the time of this writing, Saunders is well within striking distance of the current leader, Titleist golf ball loyalist Lucas Glover (Pro V1x), who has set the current pace at 6-under-par. Glover is joined at the top of the leaderboard by fellow Titleist golf ball loyalists Paul Casey (Pro V1) and Matthew Fitzpatrick (Pro V1x) who each sit one shot back. Titleist Brand Ambassador Charley Hoffman (Pro V1) has also gotten off to a fast start after a 4-under-par 68 on Thursday. He’s currently tied for 5th, three shots off the lead.

 And at this special edition of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Titleist is the once again the overwhelming golf ball choice with 78 players in the limited field of 120 trusting a Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x golf ball for their success. That’s more than five times the nearest competitor with 14 and more than all competitors combined.

Titleist is also the top choice of players in the hybrids (15) and irons (24) categories. Vokey Design Wedges topped the approach, sand and lob wedge (122) category. Scotty Cameron putters were the top choice in the putter (41) category.

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FAST FACTS:

  • The Arnold Palmer Invitational was founded in 1979 as a successor to the Florida Citrus Open Invitational, which debuted in 1966 and was played at Rio Pinar Country Club, east of Orlando, through 1978. The tournament is played at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, a private resort in Orlando owned by Palmer since 1974. The tournament has been played under a number of different names since then, most of them including "Bay Hill," but has played under the Palmer name since 2007.
  • In 2016, the most difficult hole on the par-72, 7,419-yard layout was the 458-yard par-4 18th, which played to a stroke average of 4.237. That made it the eighth-toughest closing hole on Tour last season.

  • The first three holes at Bay Hill are the most difficult opening three-hole stretch on the PGA Tour. Since 2003, that trio of holes has played to 0.443 strokes above par. The three opening three holes Waialae Golf Club, host of The Sony Open in Hawaii, are second on the list at 0.384.
  • In 2016, the most difficult hole on the par-72, 7,419-yard layout was the 458-yard par-4 18th, which played to a stroke average of 4.237. That made it the eighth-toughest closing hole on Tour last season.

  • If you're looking for drama as players come down the stretch on Sunday, you'll probably find it at the 511-yard par-5 16th. Not only was it the easiest hole in 2016, it was also the only scorable hole among the final five holes at Bay Hill (Nos. 14, 16, 17 and 18 all ranked inside the top 5 toughest holes on the course).
  • In 2016, the most difficult hole on the par-72, 7,419-yard layout was the 458-yard par-4 18th, which played to a stroke average of 4.237. That made it the eighth-toughest closing hole on Tour last season.

  • Some players to watch for this weekend:
    • Titleist Brand Ambassador Kevin Na (Pro V1x) | Kevin finished T6 a year ago for his fifth top-15 finish in eight starts at the Arnold Palmer Invitational (T11-2009, T2-2010, T4-2012, T14-2014, T6-2015).
    • Titleist golf ball loyalist Zach Johnson (Pro V1x) | Zach is making his 14th consecutive appearance at this year's Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here’s had five top-10 finishes at Bay Hill: 2004 (T6), 2005 (T8), 2009 (3), 2015 (T9) and 2016 (5). At last year's Invitational, Johnson made an albatross on the par-5 16th, holing a hybrid shot.
    • Titleist golf ball loyalist Henrik Stenson (Pro V1) | The current World No. 5 is making his ninth start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He has finsihed inside the top 15 in his last five starts (T15-2012, T8-2013, T5-2014, 2-2015, T3-2016). Henrik is a combined 50-under par in his last five appearances at Bay Hill.

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SOCIAL BUZZ:

The #1 ball on the practice range at Bay Hill.

Vokey Tour Representative Aaron Dill created this special tribute to the King for Titleist Brand Ambassador Morgan Hoffmann.

Umbrella logos will be blooming like flowers this week at Bay Hill and Titleist golf ball loyalist Billy Horschel is honoring Mr. Palmer by putting his iconic logo on his Pro V1x golf ball this week.

Titleist Brand Ambassador Graham DeLaet took some time out earlier this week in Orlando to shoot some Titleist Tips from the Tour.

Graham was joined by his fellow Titleist Brand Ambassador, Webb Simpson... 

...and Titleist golf ball loyalists Paul Casey.

Good luck to all of #TeamTitleist! 

#TeamTitleist 

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