Arnold Palmer Invitational, Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Florida
The PGA Tour is going to start its Florida Swing with the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Course in Orlando, Florida. The Course was designed by Dick Wilson in 1961 and underwent some renovations as late as 2009.
The players are going to face up to a 7400+ yard Par 72 with some drivable Par 5’s as one of the characteristics of this course. The fairways are not the most difficult to hit but the rough around them is pretty thick. The greens are small and lined with pristine Bermuda Grass.
Hitting the greens in regulation is pretty difficult and the course ranks as one of the most difficult on tour in that respect. In fact, the second shot is where this tournament is going to be won or lost. Players that have their mid to long range iron game sorted will rise to the top.
The weather can be a factor here with some blustery conditions expected.
Aussie Marc Leishman won the tournament in 2017, Jason Day in 2016, Matt Every won in 2015 and 2014, while Tiger Woods won this tournament in 2013 and 2012. Incidentally, Tiger Woods has won this tournament 8 times in total and is playing this week again.
The focus of the entire golfing world will once again be on Tiger Woods who seems to be making some dramatic improvement. There is a few other top golfers in the field as well like Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, and Hideki Matsuyama returning from a wrist injury.
Players will once again need to club down on most of the holes this weekend although the ball strikers can gain some advantage on the Par 5’s. Managing the wind will be one of the most difficult tasks that the golfers will face.
The Wolf thinks this golf course is very similar to the Valspar we saw last week and a similar kind of playing style will be on display.
Stats that Matter
The Stats that the Wolf is looking at this week includes:
- Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
- Par 4 Scoring
- Birdie or Better Percentage
Players that putt well on Bermuda Grass should also be given a consideration. The winning totals at this course have hovered around the -13 mark for the most part. Conditions though can play a big part in how easy the course is playing.
Marc Leishman won the tournament last year with a score of -11. He is 1st in Green in regulation, 2nd in Strokes Gained: Putting, 17th in Driving Accuracy, and 26th in Driving Distance.
The Wolf did not think that Tiger Woods would be the bookmakers favorite for a tournament in the early part of 2018 before the season began. That is, however, exactly what the situation as and the Wolf has no hesitation in picking Tiger Woods at $6.50 as his favorite for this week as well.
Tiger Woods checks every box for this tournament. He has been absolutely brilliant at scrambling, his irons are dialed-in, his putting is great at the moment, and his driving is getting better. This is another course where he does not have to worry about the driver from most of the hole and that will be to his advantage.
Tiger is building up to the Masters and is keen to return to his best. He is playing better every week and the Wolf thinks he is very close to registering another win on the PGA Tour. Tiger is 28th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, 18th in Par 4 Scoring, and 21st for Birdie or Better Percentage.
The Wolf likes Justin Rose as the value pick at $15.00. Rose played an astonishing level of golf last week and was in contention for the win along with Tiger. His T5 last week at the Valspar was his second top-10 finish in his last 3 starts.
Rose also the advantage of being an extremely in-form player in a field where some of his top competitors are struggling.
The stats also back up Justin Rose’s claim. He is 2nd in Par 4 Scoring, 8th in Birdie or Better Percentage, and 55th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green.
For the long shot, the Wolf is backing Tommy Fleetwood at $26.00. This could be the Wolf’s favorite bet this week because the price available on Fleetwood is fantastic. Tommy Fleetwood has been playing excellent golf consistently for the last few weeks. He finished T4 at the Honda Classic and followed that up with a T14 at the WGC Mexico.
He is very good at managing windy conditions and has solid stats as well. Fleetwood at 2nd in Strokes gained: Tee to Green, 15th in Birdie or Better Percentage, and 47th in Par 4 Scoring.
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