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2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational Day 3: Kitayama Keeps Lead, Showdown Looms For Final Round

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Kurt Kitayama plays and maintains the lead on Day 3 of the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational Saturday, March 4, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.
Kurt Kitayama plays and maintains the lead on Day 3 of the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational Saturday, March 4, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Kurt Kitayama will sleep on a 54-hole lead Saturday night knowing he’ll play in the final group Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. Sleeping soundly, however, may prove difficult given the list of accomplished players hoping to chase him down.

Seeking his first career PGA TOUR victory, the 30-year-old Kitayama birdied two of his final three holes at Bay Hill Club & Lodge for an even-par round in difficult conditions and retained the outright lead for the second straight day. His three-day total of 207 leaves him one stroke ahead of defending champion Scottie Scheffler and World No. 11 Viktor Hovland.

Tyrrell Hatton, the 2020 API champion who tied for second last year with Hovland and Billy Horschel, enters Sunday two strokes off the lead, while the World No. 3, 2018 API winner and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy lurks three shots behind, tied for fifth with Harris English. Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Max Homa – all top-20 players with accomplished resumes – are also in the top 10 and within five strokes of Kitayama.

To say Sunday is teed up to offer a final round filled with dramatics would be an understatement. Kitayama and Hovland will culminate the day as the final tee time at 1:20 p.m.

“I think you just kind of accept it,” Kitayama said when asked how he will handle playing the underdog role amongst so many of golf’s biggest names. “You just look at the leaderboard, the rankings and what they have done. People will probably be cheering for them louder, you know. So there’s nothing I can do. Just embrace it.”

This year’s final-round leaderboard has a similar feel to 2022 when Hovland entered the final round in third place, one shot off the lead, with Scheffler trailing him by a stroke. They played together in the second-to-last group, while McIlroy and Hatton were also in the mix.

“Yeah, should be another fun one,” Scheffler said. “That’s what’s exciting about our new schedule. I think we’re going to have a lot more of this stuff. I’m sure Viktor’s looking to beat me this year and I’m looking to do the same. There’s a lot of talented guys on the leaderboard though. I’m not going to be too focused on anybody else other than myself going into tomorrow. But there are so many talented players out there. It should be a really fun battle.”

Hovland and Hatton tied for the low score of the day on Saturday, both shooting bogey-free rounds of 66.

“I’ve just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing – I’ve been hitting a lot of fairways and greens,” Hovland said. “Last year was — I didn’t quite hit it as good as I did earlier in the week. But even then I still feel like I should have won last year if I had a half-decent short game last year. I still hit it good enough to score, but I feel like I’m stroking it well this year.”

With winds gusting up to 25 miles per hour Saturday, 41 of the 72 players who made the cut shot over par. McIlroy was asked whether the conditions reminded him of playing in Europe, where cross winds and slick greens can make scoring conditions difficult.

“I see it more like a U.S. Open,” McIlroy replied. “I think that’s sort of how it feels with the thick rough and the firm greens and just the real tricky conditions.”

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Scottie Scheffler Wins Second Red Cardigan at 2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational

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Photo credit: Mike Brodsky, Florida National News

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN Sports) – Scottie Scheffler wins his second red cardigan at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, today, along with $4 million of the $20 million prize pool. The red cardigan was first awarded in 2017, in memory of Arnold Palmer who passed the year before. Scheffler first won the API in 2022.

Scottie Scheffler wins the Arnold Palmer Invitational. (Photo credit: Mike Brodsky, Florida National News)

The number one ranked golfer in the world, Scheffler finished at 15 under par for the four day tournament, carding a 66 today. Wyndham Clark finished in second place at 10 under par. API defending champion, Kurt Kitayama, did not make the cut, this weekend, finishing 7 over par after the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday.

This coming week, the top golfers head to TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, for the 50th anniversary of The Players Championship. The winner will walk away with $4.5 million of the $25 million up for grabs. This is the PGA Tour’s largest regular season purse. Stay tuned to www.FloridaNationalNews.com for more.

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Lydia Ko and Jeff McNeil win the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions

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Lydia Ko win the 2024 Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, Sunday, January 21, 2024. Photo by Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Lake Nona resident, Lydia Ko, has won the 2024 Hilton Grand Vacations LPGA Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando, while Mets All-Star Second Baseman, Jeff McNeil, has won the celebrities and amateurs competition. The four day tournament wrapped up Sunday. Ko takes home $225,000 of the $1.5 million prize pool, while baseball player McNeil wins $100,000 of the $500,000 designated for the athletes and entertainers.

 

Lydia Ko and Jeff McNeil win the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, Sunday, January 21, 2024. Photo by Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

Ko finished at -14, two strokes ahead of Alexa Pano. Defending champion, Brooke Henderson, finished third at ten under par. McNeil ended with 138 points using the Modified Stableford scoring system, in his first time competing in this tournament. Annika Sorenstam finished in second place amongst the celebrity golfers, with 136. Former Major League Baseball pitchers Derek Lowe and Mark Mulder tied for third place at 135.

The Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions also announced today that they have extended their agreement with the LPGA to continue this tournament at Lake Nona for another five years, with a 65% increase in the prize pool money.

Stay tuned to Florida National News for more, and be sure to follow our Florida National News page on Facebook for more photos and videos from the tournament.

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Golf

Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions Returns to Lake Nona

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Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions (Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky, Florida National News)

ORLANDO, Fla. (Florida National News) – The Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions is back at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando Thursday, 1/18 through Sunday, 1/21. This tournament kicks off the LPGA Tour’s 74th season, featuring top women golfers, who have qualified by winning a tournament in 2022 or 2023, playing alongside celebrities from the world of sports, entertainment, and music.

Annika Sorenstam practices on the driving range for the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. (Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky, Florida National News)

 

Comedy fans can watch Larry The Cable Guy entertain the crowd with his one-liners and banter. “Fresh Prince” fans can tune in to Alfonso Ribeiro in hopes of seeing him dance “The Carlton.” Bachelor fans can follow Ben Higgins or Wells Adams to see if they’re passing out any roses.

Sports fans can see some true legends in a different light. Basketball fans can look for Vince Carter, Ray Allen, or Chandler Parsons. Baseball fans can watch for John Smoltz, Albert Pujols, or Roger Clemens. Football fans will find Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith, Marcus Allen, Brian Urlacher, and Charles Woodson.

You’ll find many other actors, musicians, and champions of various sports. If you’d like to watch some fun golf while also celebrity spotting, be sure to visit the tournament’s website to get your tickets, and to see who else will be playing this year.

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