Two months later he won The Players Championship. After the morning wave, only Emiliano Grillo had gone lower with a 67.
In a three-way tie for third at 68 were Lucas Glover, Paul Casey of England and Charley Hoffman.
Japan's Hideki Matsuyama was six adrift of the pace after posting a 73, while Rory McIlroy was a shot further back after firing a 74.
'I'll probably move over next year to be honest because that's where I want to be in the long run, ' said Fitzpatrick, who laughs off the occasional problem caused by his youthful appearance. He bogeyed holes No.3 and No. 4, but went on a flurry, birdying four of the next five holes, capping off No. 9 with a 50-foot putt.
After his wins at Bay Hill and the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship previous year, Day added a victory at the Players Championship and four other top-five finishes, including a second-place showing to Jimmy Walker at the PGA Championship.
Saunders says the tough part was seeing Palmer's cart stationed off the 16th tee. "It was one of the most meaningful monologues I've ever heard from anybody, but it represented Tiger's view on Arnold Palmer and what he has done for him, the game of golf, and for a universe at large". Golf is easy when you do that. "It's quick. They're not going to catch you, they're not going to catch you a couple steps down". I'm just glad to get it in at two under.
A terrible day for Henrik Stenson included a triple-bogey seven on the 11th, where he took four shots to get his ball away from the edge of the water and over a steep bank - the Open champion subsequently missing the cut despite improving on his first-round showing by one stroke.
"Very disappointing", McIlroy said. I hit a few good shots, especially coming down the stretch. It was tough for players to commit fully to their shots because of the odd numbers each club was producing.
Wise spectators adjusted their wardrobes accordingly and arrived heavily bundled for the unusually chilly March morning in central Florida.
"I didn't wear a wool hat because I didn't bring one with me this week", Molinari said. "Last week at Tampa I was hitting a 6 iron 210". There were so many well wishes out there toward me today, and his presence is overwhelming. I missed the green in the bunker.
"If you get in the fairway you can sort of attack", said the American.
Even so, just 27 of 120 players broke par. A 24-year-old from Argentina who now lives in Bradenton, Grillo birdied four of his next five holes and never looked back.
Cold, blustery weather, along with fast greens and thick rough during Thursday's opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational combined to produce hard scoring conditions and clothing choices. "If I had my hands out of my pockets for a minute or two, I would be freezing".