This article is part of our Betting on Golf series.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Betting Strategy
The second stop in the Florida Swing is this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando. Despite being sandwiched between the first World Golf Championship event of the season and next week's PLAYERS Championship, 13 of the top 25 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are on hand. As one of just five tournaments on the PGA Tour with invitational status, it's a smaller field, with 123 competitors. Last year, Englishman Tyrrell Hatton (45-1 odds) picked up his first career Tour victory, holding off Marc Leishman down the stretch for a one-shot victory.
Difficult weather conditions last year led to only four players finishing under par, and although scores should be better this year, Bay Hill traditionally plays as one of the most difficult courses on Tour. Long approach shots make it tough to rack up birdies, with the shortest par-3 playing around 200 yards. With a lot of water and several doglegs on the course, you'll see a lot of forced layups off the tee and more long irons used than normal on approach shots.
It has been six years since an American won this event, so definitely don't try and limit yourself to players from the States.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 4:05 PM ET Tuesday.
The following players have the lowest score to par at the Arnold Palmer Invitational since 2016:
- Rory McIlroy: -41
- Marc Leishman: -34
- Francesco Molinari: -33
- Bryson DeChambeau: -22
- Jason Day: -22
- Henrik Stenson: -22
McIlroy has feasted at Bay Hill, finishing no worse than T6 each of the last four years, a stretch that includes a win in 2018, when he entered the event struggling to find his form. Another player to keep an eye on this week is Molinari, who was unable to defend his 2019 victory due to a back injury. With three top-10 results in his last four appearances at Bay Hill, Molinari is certainly a horse for the course. He's also trending in the right direction after playing a limited schedule last season, with three top-10 results in his last four events.
Approach at Will
The following five players gained the most strokes on approach per round over their last five tournaments:
- Keegan Bradley: 1.10
- Matthew NeSmith: 1.09
- Cameron Tringale: .93
- Henrik Norlander: .90
- Tyrrell Hatton: .84
With approach play expected to be a key factor this week, we see that Bradley fared the best in SG: Approach over his last five tournaments. Although it has been a while since his best results at Bay Hill, Bradley has two top-5 finishes in this event, including a runner-up back in 2014. He has only missed the cut once in his nine appearances. On the other hand, Norlander has made only one appearance here, but he comes into this week playing the best golf of his career. He gained over nine shots on the field from tee-to-green in his runner-up finish at the Farmers Insurance Open in February.
Jordan Spieth (33-1)
Surprisingly, this is the first time Spieth is playing Arnie's event. Despite the lack of history, this should be a good spot for him to contend. He should be able to play positional golf off the tee and use his quality iron play and putting to his advantage at Bay Hill. After back-to-back top-5 results – including one in Phoenix in which he led the field in SG: Approach – Spieth was once again in contention at The Genesis Invitational before fading late. It's tough to pass on him right now at this value.
Will Zalatoris (45-1)
There won't be many opportunities left where Zalatoris is priced at these odds, so I'm going to take advantage while I still can. Albeit a small sample size, the rookie is top-10 in SG: Tee-to-Green, and it hasn't taken him long to look like he belongs among the top players at the top level.
Byeong Hun An (110-1)
An will feel at home this week, as the Orlando resident made his first career start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. After winning the European Tour's flagship event – the BMW Championship – back in 2015, An is still searching for a breakthrough win stateside, having finished runner-up three times. An is a solid iron player who has been held back by his putting. Much like we saw with Collin Morikawa last week, if that warms up he can find himself in contention.
Cameron Tringale (13-2)
This is a generous price for Tringale, considering he finished top-10 in two of his last six events. After leading the field in putting at Pebble Beach, he lost over three shots to the field at Riviera. That's traditionally a strength of his, and he comes into the event in excellent form with his irons. It feels like he should be more in the 5-1 range for a top-10 result at his current form.
Matt Jones (8-1)
Jones is another player with solid value who is trending in a positive direction. He is coming off a much-needed week off after playing six events in a row. He made the cut in each of his last 10 events and has played well here before, with a third-place result in 2015. Jones doesn't have a glaring weakness in his game and his iron play has been trending upward in 2021.
Alex Noren (10-1)
It's easy to forget that less than four years ago Noren was a top-10 player in the world. Although he's just inside the top 100 now, Noren has had a bit of a resurgence since the restart of play last summer, with three top-10s and a pair of top-25s in the two majors he's played in. Noren should be in the mix for a top-10 come Sunday.
A lot of European Tour players have had success at the API and Bezuidenhout was only three shots off the lead heading into the weekend at Bay Hill last year. He's coming off a solid week at The Concession and should be feeling comfortable having made many PGA Tour starts last year. Hoffman only has one result inside the top-50 in his last five starts.
Conners has been trending in the right direction since last fall, having picked up seven top-25 results in his last 10 events. He's one of the best ball-strikers on Tour – gaining over one shot per round in SG: Tee and Approach combined. I like that kind of consistency in a head-to-head matchup, and while I like Gooch's game, he's only a better putter than Conners and the more inconsistent of the two.
After winning with Kokrak as an underdog against Tommy Fleetwood last week, I'm going to continue to ride with him. He's had plenty of success at Bay Hill with five results inside the top-20 in his last seven appearances. Since the start of the FedExCup Playoffs last summer, Kokrak has simply been the better golfer. Day has been too much of a wild card to be a considerable favorite.