Graeme McDowell slumps to an 80 in Bay Hill event

Graeme McDowell
McDowell had a day to forget at Bay Hill

World number four Graeme McDowell carded a disastrous eight-over-par 80 in the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational event in Florida.

The US Open champion had a triple-bogey eight and six other bogeys in his worst round since an 81 at the 2005 US Open.

Masters champion Phil Mickelson and Britons Brian Davis and Martin Laird are two under sharing fourth, four shots behind leader Spencer Levin.

World number five Tiger Woods dropped a shot at the last to card a one-over 73.

Woods has won six times at Bay Hill but his 73 was his highest opening round in the tournament since 1999.

On a windy day in Orlando, McDowell started his round at the 10th and dropped three shots to turn in 39.

His most expensive error came at the par-five sixth when he attempted to reach the green in two but found the water that runs the length of the dog-leg hole.

After finding the putting surface in five strokes McDowell then three-putted from 30 feet.

"I haven't been very happy with my game for about four weeks," said the 31-year-old from Northern Ireland, who is seeking to fine-tune his game before the first major of the season, the Masters at Augusta starting on 7 April.

"This may be the wake-up call I need, you know? So it's a good thing really, a reality check for me."

Levein, 21, seeking his first PGA title, made a mockery of the blustery conditions, which saw only 21 players break par and 13 carding scores of 80 or more.

The American, who has four top 15 finishes in his last five events, said: "The course is hard anyway and then you throw in a 20-30 miles-per-hour wind and it makes it even more tough.

"I was just hoping for anything around par which would have been a good score but it was a good round, I played solid all day and my putting was really good."

Like McDowell, US Ryder Cup star Rickie Fowler also began at the 10th and eagled the 16th before missing key putts to drop shots at the final two holes, which put him in a share of second.

"I thought I hit two really good par putts but they just didn't want to go in," said the 22-year-old.

"But I felt that was some of the best I've struck all year - I was actually hitting fairways and getting on the green. Those putts slipped by but it could have been a really good round versus just a good starting round."

Defending champion Ernie Els dropped four shots in the first three holes en route to a 75.

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