Former world number one Jason Day called it quits after hitting his second shot into water at the par-five 16th, his seventh, and said that an MRI on Monday had revealed a disc tear.
Day, who won the 2016 Palmer event, arrived at the Orlando course under an injury cloud having aggravated his back during intense practise last week at TPC Sawgrass - site of the Players Championship. "I just wanted to see if I got out here and it may have loosened up", Day said. "My back was sore when I was practicing from Tuesday to Saturday, and I was going to practice on Sunday, but I woke up and couldn't really walk or sit in the vehicle".
His error of judgement would eventually lead to a double-bogey six, while Mark Roe insisted the veteran was fortunate to avoid injury while attempting to pull off such an outlandish shot - even by his standards! He had a pair of top-five finishes in his only two starts on the west coast and came into Bay Hill with a little bit of momentum.
"I was on a dose pack to try get the inflammation out of it, and that didn't get any better". He is expected to return for the Players Championship - golf's first major tournament of 2019 - when it begins next Thursday. So I ended up coming down here and seeing a physio and trying to do as much work as I possibly could to get ready for this week.
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The 29-year-old Northern Irishman could become only the sixth player to win all four major titles with a victory at the Masters, an elite club that both Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson can also enter this season.
"I've been messing around with a 64-degree lob wedge as I think that could be beneficial around (Augusta)", McIlroy, a victor of the U.S. and British Opens and the PGA Championship, said.
Rafa Cabrera Bello plays a shot on the ninth hole during the first round.
This isn't the first time Day has struggled with back issues-he missed the final two FedEx Cup playoff events in 2016 to rehab his back.