By News Team
3rd March 2020
The Florida swing continues on the PGA Tour on Thursday as the iconic Bay Hill plays host to the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Given the likes of Tiger Woods (eight times!), Phil Mickelson and, more recently, Rory McIlroy have won here, this is one of the more prestigious tournaments on the rota and it’s a trophy the whole field will be very keen to win.
Here is our look ahead to the tournament.
DeChambeau can go one better than in Mexico at Arnie’s place
McIlroy is the 5/1 favourite and rightfully so. He has finished in the top five in his last three starts and is clearly the best player on the planet at the moment. As mentioned, he won here in 2018, so likes the course and it would be no surprise to see him go well again. You’ve got to be pretty confident to back someone at that price in a strong field like this, though, and there must surely be better value elsewhere.
Namely, Bryson DeChambeau, who is another player who has really found his stride in recent weeks. It’s well documented how much gym work the American put in over the winter in order to gain extra distance and the results are evident with a runner-up and fifth-placed finish in his last two starts. He looked in prime position to win at the WGC-Mexico Championship but was pipped at the post by Patrick Reed and he’ll be confident of going one better here with all departments of his game clearly in fine fettle. He was third in strokes gained putting there and that’s a massive positive at Bay Hill with the last seven winners of the event all ranking in the top eight in that category.
DeChambeau was a perfectly respectable 27th on his debut here in 2016 and was second to McIlroy two years later, so has course form. He was never involved last year, but that came after the episode when he was caught on camera taking his frustrations out on the putting green in Mexico and so would have hardly been in the best head space to compete.
The form man looks the best bet this week at 16/1.
Leishman and Hatton dangerous to dismiss
DeChambeau is the standout at the head of the market, but further down, both Marc Leishman and Tyrrell Hatton are fancied to go well too.
The case for Leishman is pretty straightforward. He was a winner here in 2017 and followed that up with a seventh-place finish the following year, while he has already won this season at Torrey Pines. Granted, he hasn’t been at his best in his two starts since, but his course form makes him very dangerous to dismiss and his win at Torrey came after a low-key finish prior to that, so he could easily bounce back here.
He is often overlooked in the market and 40/1 looks well worth snapping up.
At a bigger 50/1, Hatton is another who is fancied to perform well here. The Englishman missed the start of the 2020 season, having had wrist surgery over Christmas, and given the lengthy lay-off, he must have been overjoyed with the way he played in Mexico on his first start back.
He finished sixth there and had it not been for a cold putter, he would have given the leaders plenty to think about. He’ll surely take a huge amount of confidence from his efforts there and with the wrist clearly able to take the rigours of tournament golf, he looks one to have on side here.
Hatton finished in a tie for fourth on his debut at Bay Hill, so has good memories of the Floridian test, and with confidence brimming, 50/1 is a price not to be sniffed at.
Check out this week’s golf podcast where we take a look at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Qatar Masters.