After an exciting end to the Valspar Championship on Sunday, the PGA Tour stays in Florida this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, an event that has been on the calendar since 1966 and is held on a course owned by the great man’s estate.
Both of our Top Ten tips landed last week as we got behind Tiger Woods and eventual winner Paul Casey so let’s get straight on and see if we can add to a strong winning run.
We called Tiger’s return to the Top Ten last time out and the 14-time major winner now shoots straight to the top of the Arnold Palmer Invitational outright betting at odds of +600 with the top US oddsmakers. Woods has a significant gap over the second favorite and may seem uncomfortably short now but he finally seems to be putting injuries behind him and there has been more than a glimpse of the old Tiger.
If you are looking for further indicators, Woods has won this tournament on no fewer than eight previous occasions so maybe we can say that the former number one is a worthy favorite this week.
Behind the leader we have a gap of several points to Jason Day (+1200 with Bovada, whose odds we are referencing in this preview) and then marginally further back from the Australian is Justin Rose (+1600). Of those two, Day is a former winner here having lifted the trophy in 2016 while Rose was a runner up in 2013 and was poised to challenge for the Valspar before falling away on Sunday.
Both feature strongly in the Power Rankings for this match but with Day taking a break recently, Rose may be the smarter bet this week.
We have a clutch of golfers at identical mid-range prices with some bookies, all of whom have potential to convert. Rickie Fowler (+1800), Tommy Fleetwood (+2200), Hideki Matsuyama (+2500) and Tyrrell Hatton (+3000) all have eye-catching odds and with the exception of Matsuyama, they have the form to suggest there’s some betting value here.
Fleetwood is the outstanding pick as far as the Power Rankings are concerned: he tied for tenth last year and leads the tour in birdies or better percentage. Add in a fourth place for adjusted scoring and he has the relevant stats to make a challenge.
Slightly further back is Bubba Watson (+3500) who has made a welcome return to form, picking up an early season win and compensating for perceived waywardness off the tee. When on form, he has more than those booming drives to offer and we should take the left hander seriously this week.
Swedes Alex Noren (+2800) and Henrik Stenson (+3300) are also on offer at similar prices in a tight bunch but what about the real outsiders?
One name that stands out is that of Kiradech Aphibarnrat (+5000) who is way down the market but ranks at eight in the Power Rankings. Thailand’s best golfer has played the Arnold Palmer twice, finishing tied sixth on both occasions and has good form coming into Thursday.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Predictions, Plus Course & Betting Trends
Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club has hosted this event since 1979 and this is a testing par 72 course at 7,419 yards. Significant changes were made in 2014 and we now have 84 punishing bunkers with water in play on 18 of the holes. As a result, this is one of the higher scoring venues on the tour and distance hitting is more desirable than on many other courses stateside.
Along with Woods’ record of eight wins, multiple winners are fairly common with Ernie Els completing a double in 2010 and Matt Every famously completing back-to-backs in 2015 – his only victories on the PGA Tour. Course form is therefore another important factor so who is in the frame for the 2018 renewal?
We are not quite committing to Tiger just yet: We do expect him to finish in the Top Ten at least but the price for that market is too short so we’re looking elsewhere. We’ve mentioned Rickie Fowler’s price but have not expanded on his credentials which, admittedly, are not encouraging.
He has had a quiet start to 2018 and has no great record in this event but he won’t be out of touch for long and we feel he will peak from here to make a serious Masters challenge. Fowler for the win or as a win and show option is the tip. Bubba Watson, Tommy Fleetwood and defending champion Marc Leishman can all be considered in the Top Ten market. In summary, these are this preview’s Arnold Palmer predictions and betting picks: