Stenson Leads The Charge For Arnold Palmer Invitational
Arnold Palmer Invitational
A strong field takes to Florida for the Arnold Palmer Invitational on its last stop in the southeast of America.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational is the final stop on the Florida swing. Founded in 1979, it’s one of five invitational events on the calendar, and with a field of 120, including most of the top 70 golfers on last year’s PGA money list, it’s more competitive than the 156 entrant tournaments that are the regular fare of the PGA Tour. Experience appears to be a vital factor for this event, and in its 33 year history there has only been one debutant winner.
The Bay Hill Club and Lodge is a typical Florida course, with water in play on several holes, including a few doglegs that tempt the reckless golfer to fly one over the water. Many have come unstuck gambling in this way, due to the unpredictable wind that is a feature of many of the Florida venues. The ability to strike the ball long, and form with the flat stick are key. Bay Hill has some of the fastest greens on the Tour.
In The Bunker
Rory McIlroy missed the cut at the Honda Classic and although he finished in the top ten at the WGC Cadillac Championship in his last outing, his performance was a little scrappy by his own high standards. He is of course capable of turning any event into a procession, but this is his first visit to Bay Hill and even a player of his class is entitled to take a round or two to adjust. At odds of 6/1 he once again looks too short.
After a steady start to 2015, Henrik Stenson is finding his best form in time and probably deserves to be the favourite at Bay Hill. He bagged a couple of top-fifteen finishes on the Desert Swing of the European Tour before switching to the PGA, where he cracked the top five at Doral and again last week in the Valspar Championship.
He has made the top ten on each of his last two visits to Bay Hill and at 9/1 is a solid bet to pick up his first title of the year.
Rickie Fowler is another player hitting form who could be worth following this week. He struggled in his first three events in 2015, finishing outside the top forty at the Phoenix Open, the Farmers Insurance and the Honda Classic, but he improved significantly at Doral to finish twelfth, and its worth noting that made the top three at Bay Hill a couple of years ago. Back him at 28/1
Sean O’Hair’s return to form at Copperhead was spectacular and it could be worth sticking with him this week at big odds. He hasn’t won a PGA event since 2011 but in his current form, he’s a decent each prospect at Bay Hill.