ORLANDO, Fla. — The calendar and palm trees suggested the Florida swing in March.

The severity of the test Saturday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational – wind, cool air, thick rough, brick-hard greens, a few tucked pins – made it feel more like the U.S. Open in June.

No one broke 70. Only one player broke par. That was Max Homa, who finished an hour before the leaders started. Brooks Koepka had an 81, the highest score of his PGA Tour career.

Tyrrell Hatton ended the most brutal day at Bay Hill in 37 years with a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole, and he thrust his arm in the air without really knowing why.

“I don’t normally fist pump on a Saturday,” Hatton said after his hard-earned round of 1-over 73. “I think it was more shock that the ball actually went in the hole. And very relieved.”

He might have been happy to have survived, or that gravity that pulled the ball into the cup and kept it from rolling another 8 feet, or that it gave him a two-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Marc Leishman.

“I don’t think anyone enjoyed that today,” he said with a laugh. “It was just … it was just so hard.”

McIlroy was happy with his run of 13 straight pars, delighted to make his first birdie on the par-5 16th and not terribly bothered by a bogey on the final hole for a 73. His goal was to survive, and he managed that.

“I saw some of the scores this morning and saw it was tough, but I guess I thought I could still go out there and shoot something sub-70,” McIlroy said. “And then once I got out there I was like, ‘Oh, maybe not.”’

Hatton was at 6-under 210, the highest 54-hole score to lead at Bay Hill since Ben Crenshaw in 1993.

The average score Saturday was 75.91, the highest for any round at Bay Hill since it was 76.29 in the second round in 1983.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Ernie Els took the second-round lead in the Hoag Classic at Newport Beach, California, eagling the par-5 15th and birdieing the final two holes for a 7-under 64.

Making his third senior start, the 50-year-old Hall of Famer reached 12-under 130 at Newport Beach Country Club.

Scott McCarron (68) and Monday qualifier David Morland IV (70) were a stroke back.

EUROPEAN TOUR: Jorge Campillo of Spain stayed atop the leaderboard at the Qatar Masters, shooting a 4-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.

Scotland’s David Drysdale (64) and Denmark’s Jeff Winther (65) were tied for second at 13 under, and Benjamin Poke (66) of Denmark was two shots back.

Comments are not available on this story.