Arnold Palmer Invitational betting overview and market
It's the first Arnold Palmer Invitational since the King passed away last year. Big names line up in the field to honour the great man and what he did for golf. Half of the top 25 players in the world have now committed but pros like Billy Horschel - 101.0 - have been vocal on Twitter - unhappy that more of the marquee names are not in the field to pay tribute to Mr Palmer. We will see 4 of the top 5 players tee it up though, with Rory McIlroy making his third appearance in a row here and leading the betting at 8.00.
It was Jason Day who emerged victorious last year over Kevin Chappell - 101.0 - on a score of -17 under par. Local Henrik Stenson - 10.00 - who now owns a stellar record here with a form line showing a progressive 15-8-5-2-3 - was once again in the mix down the stretch and he’s surely the top tip and man to beat this week off the back of another top 10 at Valspar. Big names tend to dominate API leaderboards: Jason Day was -10 for the par fives here en route to success in 2016 and par five scoring will be a strong theme this week. A surprise name in the top 10 of the last two editions is Kiradech Aphibarnrat, and he totalled -20 for the par fives across 8 rounds on the track. Hideki Matsuyama - 13.00 - currently leads the tour in par five scoring average and will be strongly tipped this week.
The Course - Bay Hill 7,418 yards, par 72
It was an all-round performance by Jason Day - 10.00 - to win in 2016 with stats reading: 44th for DA but 6th in DD. He was 2nd in birdies and 4th in strokes gained tee to green. Palmer designs tend to give players a little extra room off the tee to encourage use of the big stick. The rough was stripped back at Arnie's Place in 2015 following some encroachment over previous editions and players will have generous landing areas on what is now a Bermuda strain. The long stuff is still usually thick, lush and overseeded, so hitting fairways will be important. Conditions are generally firm and fast in this event and many of the above average sized greens are equipped with run-offs, making scrambling important here also. The early forecast looks promising for an exposed layout. As mentioned, those who can dominate the par fives may be the ones to look at from a tipping and betting perspective. Water and risk - reward is also a theme around Arnie's garden.
Arnold Palmer Invitational betting tips and ones to watch
Bay Hill Course specialist Sean O' Hair - 176.0 or 31.00 - withdrew from the Valspar with a neck problem but if he's in the field it mustn't be too serious, and we are being compensated by the price. In 2009 he took a big lead at halfway here only for some tough weekend conditions to allow one Tiger Woods to catch up and eventually overtake Sean. A runner-up that year followed a 3rd place in 2008 and O' Hair has recorded finishes of no worse than 40th here in his last five years, including a top 10 in 2014.
There are two players really getting my attention this week and the first of those Arnold Palmer Invitational tips is Matt Fitzpatrick - 81.00 or 17.00. Fitz was solid at Bay Hill last year with a T27. He comes off the back of a T16 at the WGC Mexico and has no weakness in his game. He is deceptively long, hits a lot of fairways and greens and has a tidy short game. He was 10th in GIR in 2016 on the European Tour and won the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. He was also 5th in Dubai earlier this year and owns a GIR clip of 76.85% in 2017 on the ET.
The second longshot betting tip prominently on the radar here is Hudson Swafford at 151.0 or 31.00. Hudson made 18 cuts in a row before finally breaking through for victory at the Career Builder Challenge. He missed three cuts after that but bounced back at Valspar with a T38. He was much more involved than that figure would suggest though, slipping back over the last 27 holes or so. What stands out for me about Hudson is his par five performance / scoring average rankings of 12/13 in 2017 and he does have some form at Bay Hill, finishing 11-26 the last two seasons: he closed 66-68-68 here back in 2015.