Arnold Palmer Invitational marks rare Scottish occurrence on PGA Tour

A rare occurrence is in store on the PGA Tour this week as a trio of Scots line up in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando.

Martin Laird reacts to winning the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Florida. Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images.
Martin Laird reacts to winning the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Florida. Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images.

The $9.3 million event sees PGA Tour members Martin Laird and Russell Knox being joined by Bob MacIntyre who secured his place in the field through breaking into the world’s top 50.

It is the first time the trio have teed up in the same tournament, with Knox having been in the Scottish Open field when MacIntyre made his debut in that event in 2019 but Laird’s last appearance on home soil was in 2018.

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Knox and MacIntyre also played in the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush before MacIntyre was the sole Scot in two WGCs and also the US PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco last year.

Russell Knox lines up a putt during The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles last month. Picture: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images.

The 24-year-old from Oban did have two compatriots for company in the US Open at Winged Foot in September, though it was fellow European Tour player Connor Syme and amateur Sandy Scott.

This week, in fact, marks MacIntyre’s debut in a regular event on the US circuit and he’s excited about that coming in the tournament that honours Arnold Palmer.

“Mr Palmer is a legend of the game,” said the young Scot. “I never met him and never got to see him play in person, but he and Jack [Nicklaus] and obviously Tiger [Woods] as well put the game into a position that we have all been able to make a great living from the game.”

MacIntyre, who has also now secured his spot in next week’s The Players at Sawgrass, will have South African Erik van Rooyen and Colombian Camillo Villeages for company in the opening two rounds.

Bob MacIntyre during the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City last month. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.

“It’s just going to be a great experience for me going into my first Arnold Palmer Invitational and I’m looking forward to teeing-up on his golf course and also admiring everything inside the clubhouse,” he added.

Laird, of course, had the honour of being presented with the trophy by Palmer after his win in the event in 2011, the 38-year-old heading back to Bay Hill as one of the 2020-21 champions on the PGA Tour after landing the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas for a second time in October.

Knox missed the cut 12 months ago following rounds of 75-74, but the two-time PGA Tour winner was in contention heading into the final day of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last month and will be hoping to reproduce that sort of form this week.

Tyrrell Hatton is the defending champion, with the Englishman having Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari, the winners in 2018 and 2019 respectively, in his group for the first two days.

The field also includes US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, as well as European No 1 Lee Westwood and a rejuvenated Jordan Spieth, who is making his debut in the event.

The three-time major winner has added it to his schedule after failing to make the field for last week’s WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession.

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