ORLANDO, Florida – Adam Scott made a late decision on Wednesday afternoon to leave the driver in his hotel room and replace it with a 2-wood for this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.

On Thursday morning, he felt like a fool as playing partner Rory McIlroy bullied Bay Hill into submission with 300-yard drives the Northern Irishman blasted down the middle of 11 of its fairways.

“Of course he’d have to drive it great today; it would have been better if he had hooked a couple in the rough or if he was struggling and I looked like a genius,” Scott told Australian Golf Digest through laughter on Thursday.

“But I looked like a turkey because I was out there with a 2-wood.” The 2-wood in question was a Titleist TS2 with 13.5 degrees of loft.

Despite Scott averaging almost 30 yards less than McIlroy from the tee in round one, the Australian posted a four-under-par 68 to remain just three behind first-round leader McIlroy.

Beau Hossler, JJ Spaun and Billy Horschel all shot 67 to share second at five under, while Scott was joined in a share of fifth at four under by five others including Graeme McDowell.

Scott’s TS2 2-wood. Picture: Evin Priest

McIlroy, who won the Palmer event in 2018, was in full flight on the first day of play one of the PGA Tour’s toughest courses.

Bay Hill’s brutally thick rough was no issue for McIlroy, who averaged 293 yards from the tee and only missed three fairways during a round highlighted by six birdies, an eagle and a lone bogey.

He hit 12 greens in regulation with an average proximity of 26 feet and saved par five out of six times.

“I feel like I’m playing well enough to have chances to win golf tournaments; hopefully, this is another week where I put myself in a position where I can really see where my game is when the pressure’s on,” McIlroy said.

But Scott wasn’t dispirited; in fact he fed off McIlroy.

“I like playing with Rory,” he told reporters. “I really enjoy watching him play.

“He’s a guy I can watch play and get positive swing thoughts for myself. I love watching him swing a golf club and I think almost everyone in the world would say that.

“Generally, he can lift my level of golf, especially when he’s playing the way he did today.”

Scott had to use his razor-sharp short game to keep up with McIlroy given the 2-wood strategy yielded just seven of 14 fairways.

But the 2013 Masters winner scrambled well, saving par six times from seven missed greens and needing only 26 putts for the round.

“The short game was good today but I don’t want to do that all week,” Scott said with a laugh.

“Rory made the course look easy, I didn’t play as good as he did but I managed my game well.

“I’m putting as good as I ever have; it’s noticeable even the putts I missed were good strokes.

“Four under was a good start; the second round is going to be tough because the course is getting tougher with the sun drying it out; it’s going to be a grind.”

Marc Leishman and Matt Jones were next best of the Australians at two under, while Lucas Herbert was one over.

Cam Davis and Min Woo Lee were three over and rounded out the Australian contingent.