Cabrera-Bello sets early pace at Arnold Palmer Invitational

Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello earned a two-stroke lead after the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Cabrera-Bello carded a seven-under-par 65 to set the early pace in Orlando, Florida on Thursday.

The 34-year-old holed eight birdies with just one bogey as he topped the leaderboard ahead of Keegan Bradley.

Cabrera-Bello – a three-time European Tour winner 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.

His lone bogey came at the 10th, but he bounced back with four birdies over his next five to help close out a stellar round.

Bradley’s first-round 67 put him one shot clear of several players tied for third at four under, including Phil Mickelson – who worked his way around a double-bogey at the 10th to shoot 68.

Mickelson’s double-bogey came at the expense of one of the more daring shots of the day as the five-time major winner attempted a right-handed effort behind a net.

It was a risky play and one that did not pay off as it ultimately caught the net and fell down right back where it started.

As tough as the shot was, Mickelson more than made up for it with seven birdies to go with the double-bogey and another bogey, as well.

Earlier in the day, the event took another loss as former world number one Jason Day withdrew because of a back injury. Tiger Woods pulled out of the tournament a couple of days ago.

Justin Rose, meanwhile, hit a one-under-par 71 to be six shots off the pace alongside 15 other players.

Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy ended the opening day at even par following four birdies and as many bogeys, while Rickie Fowler posted a two-over-par 74.