The Florida Swing continues on the PGA Tour with this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge. This event has been held at Bay Hill every year since 1979 and has been the Arnold Palmer Invitational since 2007.
With its invitational status, this event has a field of 120 players and a much larger purse than a normal tournament coming in at $9.3 million. The winner will get just shy of $1.7 million before taxes and a nice bank account bump in advance of next week’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
We’ll break down the course, the field, the odds from 5Dimes Sportsbook, and the picks for this weekend’s PGA Tour event.
Bay Hill Club
This course plays as a par 72 and will check in around 7,450 yards. Accuracy off the tee is a big deal at Bay Hill because a lot of holes are lined by water and there are quite a few doglegs and bends throughout the course. Hitting it long certainly helps with some par 4s over 450 yards and some longer par 5s, but not giving up shots to the water is one of the most important skills for a player this week.
These are primarily Bermuda greens down in the Sunshine State. The course is tucked on the southwest side of Orlando, so it won’t be as windy as we often see with a lot of courses in warm-weather areas. That could be why the winning scores from 2012-19 have all been at least 11-under.
Rory McIlroy is your favorite in the 5/1 range, with Tommy Fleetwood, whose late charge on Sunday at the Honda Classic was interrupted by a fan, is lined with Bryson DeChambeau at 14/1. Even though this one is an Invitational tournament, guys like Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm are not in the running.
Here are the odds from 5Dimes Sportsbook as of March 3 at 1:30 p.m. ET:
|Byeong Hun An||+3300|
|Charles Howell III||+10000|
|Harold Varner III||+12500|
|Si Woo Kim||+30000|
|Davis Love III||+100000|
A few interesting field notes here. Brandon Matthews is +50000 and is there on a sponsor exemption. Matthews is the player who was in a playoff for a PGA Tour Latinoamerica title and was interrupted by a fan with special needs. He handled the situation with tremendous grace and the organizers of the Arnold Palmer Invitational awarded him with one of the sponsor spots in the field.
Tiger Woods is not here despite eight wins at Bay Hill. He is resting his back for the upcoming majors.
The short prices are all deserving, but guys like Justin Rose, Tony Finau, and Rickie Fowler are in the 33/1 range and those are not prices we often see with players of that caliber. Recent form hasn’t been great for any of them, but we are getting some really good players at some really nice prices.
Henrik Stenson is another one at 35/1. He lives in the Orlando area, along with several other players. There are some intriguing prices to be sure.
Here are four players that are on my card for this week (sorted by price):
Tony Finau (+3300) – A big win is coming for Tony Finau. Finau ranks sixth in SG: Tee-to-Green this season and is in the top 100 in SG: Putting. He’s had occasional issues with accuracy and with the flatstick, but Finau has been in the hunt with two top-10 finishes in his last three events and a 14th if you go back four events. He hasn’t played Bay Hill in a couple of years, but improved from 2016 to 2017 and then had his best finish in 2017 at 28th. Finau is a much better player now than he was back then. He has the length for this course and the ball striking to be a big factor. At 33/1, he seems to be something of an afterthought after skipping three of the last four weeks and with a 51st in the Genesis Invitational.
Byeong Hun An (+3300) – Benny An made a huge push on Sunday at the Honda Classic, but he uncharacteristically missed some short putts and finished fourth. An now has two top-10 finishes in his last five events. He was 10th at Bay Hill last year and 14th the year prior. This is his fifth straight year at this event and he’s in pretty good recent form. The price point may be a little bit low as something of a tall pine among some legitimate redwoods in this field, but that is because An has been playing very well and has played well here. An has five top-10 finishes this season and ranks in the top 20 in SG: Tee-to-Green. He just has to get some putts to fall. He jumped 10 spots in SG: T2G after last week’s performance.
Henrik Stenson (+3500) – Stenson is local to the course and has played extremely well here in the past. He missed the cut in 2017, but has finished 17th, fourth, third, second, fifth, and eighth when he has played all 72 holes. Stenson is not really in any kind of recent form because he has been off for about a month, but this is a really strong course for Stenson. He should be on the first page of the leaderboard going into Sunday.
Carlos Ortiz (+12500) – Let’s pick out a couple of big prices here. Carlos Ortiz should be lower than 125/1. Ortiz ranks 25th in SG: Tee-to-Green and 84th in SG: Off-the-Tee, so he has been playing those second and third shots really well. At tough, tight courses like this, that goes a long way. Ortiz hasn’t been exceptional with the putter, but he ranks 85th in SG: Putting. He’s got two top-25 finishes in his last three events and a 26th. This is his third crack at Bay Hill and second consecutive start. At this price point, he is worth the long shot for the win, but I’d also encourage a top-10 or top-five prop.