McIlroy set to defend most recent title at Bay Hill

Field Level Media’s Golf Glance provides weekly news and storylines from each of the major North American golf tours.

PGA TOUR

Rory McIlroy
Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

LAST TOURNAMENT: The Honda Classic (Keith Mitchell)

THIS WEEK: Arnold Palmer Invitational, March 7-10
Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Fla. (Par 72, 7,419 yards)
Purse: $9.1 million (Winner: $1.602 million and 500 FedEx Cup points)
Defending champion: Rory McIlroy
FedEx Cup leader: Xander Schauffele
Television: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2:30-6 p.m. (NBC)
Tiger Woods, an eight-time winner at Bay Hill, withdrew from the event on Monday due to a neck strain. … It was announced this week that the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year will now receive the Arnold Palmer Award. … McIlroy, who is paired with Patrick Reed and Australia’s Marc Leishman for the first two rounds, has placed in the top five in each of his past four worldwide starts. He missed only one of 61 putts from inside 10 feet in winning last year’s event by three shots. … England’s Justin Rose, who can reclaim the No. 1 world ranking from Dustin Johnson (idle) this week, makes his first start on Tour since winning the Farmers Insurance Open in January. … England’s Ian Poulter has played each of his past 12 rounds at even par or better, and has five top 25s in five tries in this event since 2011. … Phil Mickelson is competing at Bay Hill for the first time since 2013. … The late Payne Stewart holes the 72-hole tournament record of 264 set in 1987.

NEXT WEEK: THE PLAYERS Championship, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

LPGA TOUR

LAST TOURNAMENT: HSBC Women’s World Championship (Sung Hyun Park)
THIS WEEK: OFF.
NEXT TOURNAMENT: Bank of Hope Founders Cup, Phoenix, March 21-24

CHAMPIONS TOUR

LAST TOURNAMENT: Cologuard Classic (Mark O’Meara)

THIS WEEK: Hoag Classic, March 8-10
Omni Tucson National, Tucson, Ariz. (Par 71, 6,584 yards)
Purse: $1.8 million (Winner: $270,000)
Defending Champion: Vijay Singh
Charles Schwab Cup leader: Bernhard Langer
Television: Friday, 6-8 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 5:30-8 p.m. (Golf Channel).
Singh is not in the field to defend his title, opting to stay in Florida to compete in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. … Langer will miss his second consecutive event due to a rib injury. … John Daly is in the field on a sponsor exemption. … Fred Couples will compete in his first event since playing in the Genesis Open on the PGA Tour last month. … The event was previously known as the Toshiba Classic.

NEXT TOURNAMENT: Rapiscan Systems Classic, Biloxi, Miss., March 29-31

–Derek Harper (@DerekAHarper), Field Level Media

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