Post by: Mike Philipps
The PGA Tour finishes up the “Florida Swing” with its annual stop at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge (par 72, 7,419 yards), host of The Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. Of course this year, the event’s namesake will not be there to watch over the festivities held on a course he owned, for an event that included his name since 2007. Palmer’s death in September left a gaping hole in the hearts of millions of golf fans, and the game itself, so this week is expected to be an emotional one as players and fans pay tribute to one of the game’s true icons.
Recommended Betting Sites for the Arnold Palmer Invitational
The 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational is one of five tournaments given “invitational status” by the PGA Tour – only last year’s top-70 money winners are guaranteed a spot within the field of 120. Those players will do their best to keep their ball dry, as eight of the holes on the Champion/Challenger Course have significant water, including the last three. No. 18 is one of the most notable closing holes on Tour, and water is a big reason why. The demanding 458-yard par 4, requires two precise shots in order to earn a final birdie. Playing to the left side of the fairway gives the best angle to attack a long, narrow green, but OB lurks. Tee shots hit to the right will have to contend with a shot fully over water to a small landing area that is protected by three bunkers.
At last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, Jason Day was at the height of his powers and he had no issues negotiating Bay Hill. A quick start resulted in a wire-to-wire victory for the then-No. 3 ranked Day. He fired rounds of 66 and 65 to open the week, besting Henrik Stenson by one shot each day to hold a two-shot lead heading into the weekend. Day didn’t find the scoring quite as good on Saturday and Sunday, but a pair of 70s was good enough to hold off Stenson and eventual runner-up Kevin Chappell, who managed to briefly hold the lead on the front nine on Sunday. Day ranked 2nd for the week in total putts and 6th in Driving Distance to earn what would be the first of two consecutive wins.
Expect a number of the world’s best players to come to honor Arnie this week, leading to another tremendous field. Four of the top five players in the world are scheduled to play, part of the group of 14 of the world’s top 25 players. In total, 21 major winners will also be teeing it up at Bay Hill, representing 34 combined major championships. And while there are so many accomplished players in the field, the fact that nearly a third of the tournaments this season have been won by first-time winners makes picking a winner that much more daunting. Here are some players to consider.
2017 Arnold Palmer Betting odds
The following chart compares the odds for the outright winner across all the best golf betting sites. The purpose of this chart is for you to see which betting site is paying the most for your picks. I’ve listed the top-20 golfers according to the odds, but remember you can visit each betting site to see the odds on every player in the field. You can also visit each bookmaker for a list of other types of golf bets beyond merely betting on the winner.
Odds from US betting sites:
Top Picks of the Field
World Golf Ranking: 2
What to like: Day dominated last time he played Bay Hill, and since his win there last year, he has added seven more top-5s. 13 of his last 30 events have resulted with Day in the top 5.
What not to like: Two of Day’s last three starts would have to be classified as disappointments. He missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open and finished T-64 at the Genesis Open. That’s the closest thing to a slump that Day has endured in a while.
At The Arnold Palmer: Day jumped on the field with rounds of 66 and 65 at last year’s Arnold Palmer, and completed the wire-to-wire victory with solid play on the weekend. It started a streak of three wins in six starts for Day and an ascension to the No. 1 ranking in the world.
Last event: Day didn’t get much going at the Genesis Open, failing to break 70 and finishing in a tie for 64th.
World Golf Ranking: 5
What to like: Stenson has played eight events during the 2016-17 season. He had to withdraw from the WGC-Mexico Championship two weeks ago due to illness. He has finished T-9 or better in the other seven. Wow. Stenson has been playing outstanding golf, and his start to this season mirrors his recent results at Bay Hill.
What not to like: Stenson had to withdraw from the WGC-Mexico Championship, but it wasn’t due to injury. However, injuries cropping up mid-event have been an issue for the 40-year-old Swede. That’s the only real risk with Stenson.
At The Arnold Palmer: Stenson has a great run going at Bay Hill. He’s been in the top 15 each of the last five years, and in the top 5 the last three. Last year he finished each round within the top 3 on the leaderboard while leading the field in Greens in Regulation.
Last event: After a scintillating bogey-free round of 64 on Thursday that included 7 birdies, Stenson scuffled a bit the rest of the way at the Valspar Championship. He managed just 7 birdies the rest of the week on his way to a T-7 finish.
World Golf Ranking: 3
What to like: Since winning the TOUR Championship and the FedEx Cup last September, McIlroy has not finished outside of the top 10 in four worldwide starts. McIlroy’s T-7 two weeks ago at the WGC-Mexico Championship shows that he is fully recovered from the rib injury that caused him to miss nearly two months.
What not to like: While McIlroy appeared to be recovered from the rib injury, it’s not something that you can totally forget.
At The Arnold Palmer: In two career starts at the Arnold Palmer, McIlroy has a T-11 and T-27 to his credit.
Last event: McIlroy grabbed a two-shot lead after 36 holes at the WGC-Mexico Championship, but played the weekend in just 1-under-par, slipping into a tie for 7th. McIlroy’s 65 on Friday was great news, considering he had missed time with a stress fracture in his ribs. Endurance may have played a role in his late slip.
World Golf Ranking: 4
What to like: Matsuyama has already put together a remarkable season, winning five times worldwide in just six months. He currently ranks 3rd on the PGA Tour in Scoring Average and 7th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.
What not to like: When you’re as hot as Matsuyama has been this year, two straight starts without a top-20 seems like a tragedy. The 24-year-old missed the cut at the Genesis Open before finishing T-25 at the WGC-Mexico Championship.
At The Arnold Palmer: Matsuyama improved on the T-21 he earned in his debut at the Arnold Palmer in 2015 with a T-6 last year. His final-round 67 last year moved him up from 18th place.
Last event: Matsuyama’s week at the WGC-Mexico Championship was pretty quiet, shooting just one round under 70. But his third-round 66 was enough to earn him a T-25, his fifth top-25 on the PGA Tour this season.
World Golf Ranking: 13
What to like: Rose has gotten hot since the calendar turned to 2017, earning three top-4 finishes in under three months. Rose has been especially good off the tee this season, ranking 1st on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee.
What not to like: Rose has been getting himself in contention lately, but he has not won a full-field event in almost 18 months.
At The Arnold Palmer: Rose has finished in the top 10 in four of his last eight starts at the Arnold Palmer including a T-9 last year. His best finish came in 2013 when he jumped to the top of the leaderboard with an opening-round 65 before finishing 2nd to Tiger Woods.
Last event: Rose was unable to break 70 in any of his four rounds at the WGC-Mexico Championships, causing him to finish tied for 38th.
World Golf Ranking: 9
What to like: Fowler is coming off a big win at the Honda Classic a few weeks ago. Most importantly, he got the monkey off his back of winning after holding a 54-hole lead. The victory was his third top-6 already in 2016-17.
What not to like: It was great to see Fowler hold onto a lead and earn his first win in over a year. Will there be a bit of complacency in the former Oklahoma St All-American?
At The Arnold Palmer: Fowler finished T-3 at the 2013 Arnold Palmer thanks to rounds of 67 on Friday and Saturday. That was easily his best finish in the event – he has not cracked the top-25 in his other four starts at Bay Hill.
Last event: Fowler carded three rounds in the 60s at the WGC-Mexico Championship two weeks ago, earning him a T-16 finish.
Other Big Names in the 2017 Field
World Golf Ranking: 16
What to like: Hatton has been a top-10 machine again in 2016-17 after compiling 10 such finishes last season. He has not finished outside the top-25 in any of his last 10 starts while adding a win and three more top-5s.
What not to like: Hatton has struggled recently in final rounds when he’s been in contention. Four times he’s entered the final round in 7th place or better, but only once has managed a round under 70. His final-round 75 at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship came when he held the 54-hole lead.
At The Arnold Palmer: This will be Hatton’s first start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Last event: Hatton finished in solo 10th place at the WGC-Mexico Championship two weeks ago. He carded four rounds under par to finish at 9-under.
World Golf Ranking: 11
What to like: Noren is hottest player that you might not know about. Eight months ago, he was ranked in the hundreds of the Official World Golf Rankings, but has since won four of his last 16 events. He skyrocketed to as high as No. 9 in the world.
What not to like: Noren doesn’t have a top-10 since he won the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November, including a missed cut and a T-55 finish in his last two starts.
At The Arnold Palmer: This will be Noren’s first start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Last event: Noren finished T-55 at the WGC-Mexico Championship after an opening-round 76.
World Golf Ranking: 24
What to like: Snedeker is on a nice roll right now, earning top-10s in three of his last four starts.
What not to like: Snedeker hasn’t had a lot of luck playing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. His average round there is nearly a full stroke higher than his career average.
At The Arnold Palmer: Snedeker has teed it up for 10 straight years at Bay Hill, making the cut eight times. He doesn’t have much in the way of high finishes, though, as his T-8 in 2014 is his only top 10 there. He finished T-36 last year.
Last event: Snedeker got off to a rough start at the WGC-Mexico Championship, carding a first-round 75. But Snedeker improved each round, culminating with a final-round 65 that led him to a T-7 finish. An impressive comeback.
World Golf Ranking: 29
What to like: The 2012 NCAA Individual Champion while playing at the University of Illinois has a pair of very impressive results over the past month. He earned top-5s in two excellent fields with a 2nd place finish at the Genesis Open and T-5 at the WGC-Mexico Championship. Pieters is immensely talented and looks like a player that could break out this year.
What not to like: Before his two recent top-5s, Pieters had gone eight events with a top-10. And despite his recent success, he’s also missed two of his last five cuts.
At The Arnold Palmer: Pieters finished in 76th place at last year’s Arnold Palmer, his only career start there.
Last event: Pieters finished T-5 at the WGC-Mexico Championship two weeks ago, firing four rounds of 69 or better. He was inside the top-8 after each round.
World Golf Ranking: 30
What to like: The 2012 U.S. Amateur champ and youngest member of either 2016 Ryder Cup team, Fitzpatrick already has three career victories to his credit. His most recent win came at the DP World Championship Dubai in November when he played the weekend in 11-under-par. He earned another T-5 in Dubai in February at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
What not to like: Fitzpatrick has been up and down since ramping up his playing schedule again in late January. He’s paired a missed cut and a 68th place finish with T-5 and T-16 finishes in his last four starts.
At The Arnold Palmer: Fitzpatrick finished T-27 at last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, his best finish in two starts there.
Last event: Fitzpatrick finished T-16 at the WGC-Mexico Championship with a total score of 6-under-par.
World Golf Ranking: 42
What to like: Johnson has a very strong resume playing at Bay Hill. He’s finished in the top 10 each of the last two years, bringing his career total to five.
What not to like: So far Johnson’s 2016-17 is continuing the trend from the second half of his 2015-16. In his last 12 events dating back to last July, Johnson has finished outside the top-25 10 times.
At The Arnold Palmer: This will be Johnson’s 14th straight year playing in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Nearly half of his starts have resulted in top-10s, including the last two years. Both years he played his best after the cut, shooting 68 or better for all four weekend rounds. His 5th place finish last year was his best result since he took 3rd in 2009.
Last event: Johnson struggled at the WGC-Mexico Championship, carding bookend rounds of 75 and finishing in a tie for 58th.
World Golf Ranking: 28
What to like: Oosthuizen enters the week with a string of 17 straight made cuts, including three top-10s in his last seven starts. The owner of one of the sweetest swings in the game, Oosthuizen ranks 17th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.
What not to like: Putting is not Oosthuizen’s strongest suit – he’s ranked no better than 101st on the PGA Tour in the last three seasons in Strokes Gained: Putting. He ranks 114th in 2016-17.
At The Arnold Palmer: Oosthuizen earned a top-10 in his only career start at Bay Hill, finishing T-9 in 2015.
Last event: It took Oosthuizen some time to get going at the WGC-Mexico Championship, as he failed to break par during the first three rounds. A final-round 68 helped him salvage a T-48.
World Golf Ranking: 15
What to like: Casey is coming off one of the best years of his career, and he’s been consistent in 2016-17, earning top-25s in five of his nine starts.
What not to like: After his torrid streak in September and October, Casey hasn’t been able to get himself back up to those same heights. In fact, Casey hasn’t been in the top 10 at the end of ANY round since last October. That’s a span of six events.
At The Arnold Palmer: Casey had his best finish at last year’s Arnold Palmer, finishing in a tie for 9th. In 2007, Casey came out guns blazing with an opening round 64 to grab the first-round lead, but fell off and finished T-14. He hasn’t finished inside the top 60 in his other four starts at Bay Hill.
Last event: After a rough start in Round One, Casey moved up the leaderboard each day at the WGC-Mexico Championship. Casey hit the weekend at 3-over-par, but fired rounds of 67 and 66 to climb into a tie for 16th.
Longer Shots in the Arnold Palmer Invitational
World Golf Ranking: 51
What to like: After getting himself into contention on several occasions already this season, Hadwin finally got the job done with his win last week at the Valspar Championship. Hadwin has shown the capability of going very low, evidenced by his 59 in the third round of the CareerBuilder Challenge and his 64 in the second round of the Shriners Hospital for Children Open.
What not to like: Before last week, Hadwin has had trouble backing up big rounds that put him into contention. In the five rounds that Hadwin played when he entered in the top 10, his score went up more than five shots, on average. He was able to hold on at the Valspar despite a final-round 71.
At The Arnold Palmer: Hadwin finished T-36 at last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, his first career start there. He did lead the field in Fairways Hit that week, though.
Last event: Hadwin grabbed the lead after a second-round 64 and never let it go, finishing at 14-under-par, one shot better than Patrick Cantlay. For the week, Hadwin finished T-5 in Greens in Regulation and T-9 in Total Putts. Not a bad combination.
World Golf Ranking: 72
What to like: Bryan is officially rolling right now, finishing in the top 7 in his last three starts. The three-time winner on the Web.com Tour last year appears to be growing more comfortable every time he tees it up now that he has full status on the PGA Tour.
What not to like: Bryan’s rookie year on the PGA Tour did not get off to a very good start. He missed the cut in four of his first seven starts and didn’t crack the top-40 until his ninth event of the season.
At The Arnold Palmer: This will be Bryan’s first start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Last event: Bryan carded three rounds of 68 to finish tied for 7th at the Valspar Invitational last week. His putter was hot again, placing him 6th in the field in Total Putts for the week.
World Golf Ranking: 47
What to like: Na hasn’t finished lower than 14th in his last three starts at the Arnold Palmer and he also has a runner-up finish there, too. Na’s best finish this season was a T-4 at the Genesis Open.
What not to like: Na has placed outside of the top 25 in seven of his last nine tournaments.
At The Arnold Palmer: Na has finished in the top 6 at the Arnold Palmer in three of his last five starts. He last played in 2015 and shot three rounds in the 60s to earn a T-6. His best result came in 2010 when he finished T-2.
Last event: Na couldn’t overcome an opening-round 75, missing the cut at the Valspar Championship last week.
World Golf Ranking: 40
What to like: Chappell is coming off the best year of his career in 2015-16, setting new highs in top-5s, top-10s and nearly tripling his previous best total in money earned. One of those high finishes came at Bay Hill, where he finished runner-up to Jason Day.
What not to like: Chappell’s 2016-17 has not been a continuation of last year, as he hasn’t cracked the top 30 in any of his eight starts.
At The Arnold Palmer: Chappell put on a strong charge on the weekend last year – he played the final two rounds in 8-under-par – but came up one shot short in his pursuit of Day. He led the field with his play on the par 4s, coming in at 10-under-par for the week. His runner-up last year was his third top-25 in five starts at the Arnold Palmer.
Last event: Chappell was unable to recover from a disastrous 77 in the second round of the WGC-Mexico Championship. He finished strong, though, firing a round of 69 on Sunday to move up to a T-55.
Picks from Way off the Green
World Golf Ranking: 204
What to like: Poulter – ranked in the top 25 of the World Golf Rankings as recently as 2015 – appears to be moving in the right direction again. He’s made his last six cuts in 2016-17 and has had good success at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in the past.
What not to like: Poulter is still working his way back from a foot injury that caused him to miss 20 weeks in 2016.
At The Arnold Palmer: Since missing the cut four of the first five times he played at Bay Hill, Poulter put together a string of five straight top-21 finishes, including a 3rd place in 2012. Last year he was never in the mix, though, finishing T-46.
Last event: Poulter got off to a very hot start – just his ninth start since returning that foot injury – with an opening round 66 at the Honda Classic. Unfortunately for the Englishman, he couldn’t break 70 the rest of the week and slipped into a tie for 43rd.
World Golf Ranking: 106
What to like: Kokrak has had excellent results in recent years at Bay Hill, finishing as high as 4th in 2014.
What not to like: Kokrak hasn’t found his way into the top 10 yet in 2016-17, and he’s missed three of his last 10 cuts.
At The Arnold Palmer: Kokrak has finished in the top 20 each of the last three years at the Arnold Palmer, earning a 4th and a T-6 in 2014 and 15, respectively. His average round over the last three years is 69.5.
Last event: After a solid opening-round 68 at the Valspar Championship last week, Kokrak struggled the rest of the way, seeing his score go up each round. He wound up finishing T-58.
World Golf Ranking: 431
What to like: If ever there was a sentimental favorite, it’s Saunders this week. The grandson of Arnold Palmer will have the backing of the galleries, especially if he can get off to a good start, and strange things happen when that kind of emotion is infused.
What not to like: Saunders simply doesn’t have much success to his name on the PGA Tour. His lone top-5 came at the 2015 Puerto Rico Open when he finished T-2. He has never cracked the winner’s circle as a professional.
At The Arnold Palmer: Saunders hasn’t had much success at his grandfather’s tournament, never finishing inside the top-25 in seven career starts there. His best finish came in 2016 when he earned a T-29.
Last event: Saunders missed the cut by four stokes at the Valspar Championship last week.
World Golf Ranking: 927
What to like: Every would be the very difficult final answer to the following trivia question: Since 2015, who are the four players that have won the same event in consecutive years. Hideki Matsuyama (’16 & ’17 Waste Management Phoenix Open) and Justin Thomas (’16 & ’17 CIMB Classic) joined Jimmy Walker (’15 & ’16 Sony Open) and Every in that exclusive club. Every is on the list because he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2014 and 2015. Maybe there’s just something about Bay Hill.
What not to like: There is not much to like about Every’s play over the two years, especially lately. He had missed his previous 16 cuts before withdrawing from the Honda Classic three weeks ago. He hasn’t played the weekend of a professional event in over a year. Since his win at the 2015 Arnold Palmer, Every has plummeted nearly 900 spots in the World Golf Rankings. He is a big-time long shot this week.
At The Arnold Palmer: Every is a two-time champion at the Arnold Palmer, winning in 2014 and 2015, holding off some of the world’s top-ranked players for one-shot victories both times. He was unable to complete the three-peat last year, missing the cut by one.
Last event: Every struggled mightily again last week at the Valspar Championship. At 10-over-par, he missed the cut by 10 shots.
Past winners in the field: Jason Day, Matt Every (2), Martin Laird, Ernie Els (2), Vijay Singh, Rod Pampling, Chad Campbell.
Major winners in the field: Keegan Bradley, Stewart Cink, John Daly (2), Jason Day, Ernie Els (4), Lucas Glover, Retief Goosen (2), Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson (2), Martin Kaymer (2), Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy (4), Geoff Ogilvy, Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Rose, Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Vijay Singh (3), Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson (2), Danny Willett.