Cabrera-Bello - a three-time European Tour victor but seeking his maiden PGA Tour crown - started his day with birdies on four of his first six holes to jump out to an early lead.
Rafa Cabrera Bello went out early and shot the round of the day, a seven-under-par 65, and takes a two-shot lead over Keegan Bradley (67) into Friday's second round. "I knew it was a good shot ... and then I looked up and see it a foot away".
Jason Day, the last player to win at Bay Hill before Palmer died in 2016, withdrew after six holes because of a back injury.
"I was able to get clear - I thought - clean contact on it from a right-handed shot perspective", he said. He would take a one-stroke penalty, drop the ball, and make double bogey.
"I had a good putting session at home Monday of that week; part of our garage at home is a gym, so I put some nice rubber down for the weight machines and I was putting on that towards a dumbbell (as a target)", Baddeley told AAP. The British Open returns to Northern Ireland this summer for the first time since 1951, and Bay Hill for the first time is part of the Open Qualifying Series.
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Day, 31, said an MRI reveled that he has an annular tear in the L4-L5 discs in his back, and that his status for next week's Players Championship-which Day won in 2016-in jeopardy.
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"Unfortunately due to a neck strain that I've had for a few weeks, I'm forced to withdraw from the API", Woods wrote on Twitter "I've been receiving treatment, but it hasn't improved enough to play". Day was coming off a three-week break.
World number 34 Cabrera Bello, a three-times victor on the European Tour, is seeking his first victory on the PGA Tour.
McDowell was among the first tournament ambassadors after Palmer died as a longtime supporter at Bay Hill. The top three finishers in the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified will earn exemptions into the Open Championship in July.
"I've been making sure I get my driver turning over (right-to-left) as that's something I've struggled with the last couple of years at the Masters".
"I had come off a bogey at one, so wasn't really happy on the (second) tee", he said.
"Any time you can shoot under par on this golf course, the rough is up, the greens are going to get tougher and tougher", Watson said after shooting 68.