The Two Types of Players at Bay Hill: A Fan’s Take

There are two types of players at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The first type is those players that are preparing for the Masters on April 5. They have already punched their ticket to Augusta National and are trying to get their game ready for the first major championship of the season. The second category of players is those that are trying to play their way into the Masters. These players are trying to crack the world's top 50 for the week of March 25 or to win outright and automatically receive an invite to the Masters.

In the absence of world number one Luke Donald and second ranked Rory McIlroy the players heading the first group at Arnold Palmer's tournament are Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. In the first round Tiger Woods played as if he is preparing for the Masters and he played well. Woods finished the day at 3-under par, which was good for a share of fourth place.

Phil Mickelson's game was not Masters ready in the first round. Mickelson started on the back nine and did not play particularly well. As Mickelson stepped to the tee box midway through his back nine he stood at 4-over par. From that point Mickelson rallied with three birdies to close his round at 1-over par. While it was not the start that Mickelson wanted, it could have been much worse.

Now for the golfers that are trying to play their way into the Masters. Ernie Els stood at 3-under par through 13 holes but, unfortunately for Ernie, he made two bogeys coming home and finished at 1-under par for the round. I'm sure Els is still thinking about the final round at the Transitions Championship and the short putts he missed. However, this is a new week and he is trying to play himself into the Masters with a solid finish at Bay Hill.

Charlie Wi and Jason Dufner are also trying to play their way into the 2012 Masters. Both Wi and Dufner are at 6-under par and share the lead after round one. Wi would already have his invite to the Masters had he been able to hold his lead at Pebble Beach. Dufner has also been atop leaderboards on tour in 2012, including the Transitions Championship. However, unlike Wi, Dufner is currently in the world's top 50 and can probably book his trip to Augusta.

Dwight is an avid golfer. While still relatively new to the game, he plays as often as the weather and his schedule will allow.

More from this contributor:

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