2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational leaderboard, scores: Jon Rahm shoots 65 in Round 1 to take lead at Bay Hill

There has been a lot of talk in the last few days about who should be playing certain PGA Tour events in 2024 and beyond. To be honest, it doesn’t look like it will matter because Jon Ram will just win them all.

Ram, who has won five of his last nine starts and is competing for third an elevated win (from four attempts) this season, on Thursday he scored 65 points in the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which was his 18th round in the 60s of 21 rounds in 2023.

This has been a truly incredible run for the #1 in the world and has the chance to make it even more special over the next three days at Bay Hill. Let’s dive into his first 18 holes and see how the rest of the tournament stacks up.


1. John Ram (-7)

Ram somehow lost tees, perhaps his strongest statistical category, and still scored seven points on the best course of the year. At this point it has become so ridiculous that it is almost impossible to know which direction to go in trying to contextualize what Ram is doing.

How about doing it like this?

Ram played 21 PGA Tours this year. He was in the top seven on the leaderboard after 19(!) of them. Oh, and then there’s this.

Regardless of how you look at it, Ram is having an incredible season and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon. The question for him – perhaps the biggest question of this early golf year – is whether he can maintain that dominance to (and through) the Masters. Many golfers won’t necessarily be interested in Ram winning the biggest tournaments of the year, even though it’s a big deal, if it doesn’t lead to a big championship in April, May, June or July.

Other contenders

3. Kurt Kitayama (-6)

T3. Chris Kirk, Cameron Young (-5)

T5. Adam Schenck, Scotty Sheffler, Jordan Spieth, Aaron Rye, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantley, Ricky Fowler, Keegan Bradley (-4)

With all due respect to Kitayama, the players behind him, especially the two in the back, make for a compelling storyline. Scheffler is gearing up for his second straight Arnold Palmer Invitational, as well as his second straight title defense since defeating Phoenix last month. Spieth tries to find something ahead of April. Fowler is really trying to prove that he is a better player again. Young is about to get his first win. Oh, and both Schauffele and Cantley are aiming for the top three in the official world golf rankings just outside of it.


If it wasn’t for what Ram did, we’d be talking more about how crazy Scheffler has been this season. Phoenix and Bay Hill’s two years in a row would have been huge, but Scheffler insisted he was just trying to hang on.

“I would say that it is very difficult to get confidence on this course because there are no really easy holes,” Scheffler said. “It’s a pretty weird golf course when it comes down to it.

“I appreciate the fact that this golf course is very challenging and I feel like it’s a place where I can just try and hang on there. This is what I did last year. I didn’t play amazing for four days. One of the guys I played a practice round with this week asked me what I did so well last year and I just told them I survived. This is really what it looks like. It’s a brutal place and it’s only going to get harder as the week progresses… This is Thursday morning. As a rule, these are the simplest conditions. So let’s see what happens within a week.”

Don’t let Spit deal with his stick

Spit (68) was one of only two top 22 players to lose field shots on the green. It’s not good, but it’s part of a mini-trend of what was the worst season of Spit’s career on the PGA Tour. There’s plenty of time to fix this, but Spieth has lost hits in each of his last three tournaments and is generally worse than the Tour average. The flip side of this is that if he starts falling in love with some of the lines in August, it can get silly for the rest of the field.

2023 Genesis Invitational updated odds and picks

Odds via bookmaker Caesars

  • John Ram: 7/5
  • Scotty Sheffler: 15/2
  • Xander Schauffele: 12-1
  • Patrick Cantley: 12-1
  • Cameron Young: 16-1
  • Ricky Fowler: 24-1

What a strange board. When the #2 player in the world, who is also the reigning champion of this golf tournament, rolls 68 in the first round and takes T5, you certainly expect anything less than +750. This shows how dominant Ram was at the beginning of the year. I go deeper, beyond all of that, and stop at Spite at 30-1. I’m not entirely sure why he’s longer than Fowler, but see above for my thoughts on how he turned his putting into a potential win either this weekend or soon.


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