The PGA Tour stays in Florida this week for the prestigious Arnold Palmer Invitational which is staged at the beautiful Bay Hill Country Club. The Par 72 layout is a tough test at over 7,400 yards, with lots of water and bunkers awaiting errant shots, but that didn’t stop last year’s winner Matt Every shooting 19-under-par.
Five of the world’s top-10 are in attendance, with Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott and Justin Rose all hoping to play well in their build-up to next month’s Masters.
McIlroy only added this tournament to his schedule last year, when he finished 11th, and it will be interesting to see how his new kack-handed putting grip holds-up. He could easily win, but I would have liked to see at least another good week on the greens before parting with any cash. Meanwhile Jason Day, who doesn’t have a great overall record in Florida, hasn’t finished better than 17th in 5 attempts.
Of the three others of the world-class quintet, it’s hard to quash the clams of either Scott, Stenson or Rose who all have two top-5 finishes here. Scott was 3rd here in both 2004 and 2014, and no golfer on the planet is in better form than the Aussie whose recent form figures are 2/1/1. However, it’s hard enough winning back-to-back on the PGA Tour let alone 3 on the trot, and the hat-trick may prove beyond him. That leaves us with Stenson and Rose, and both make the portfolio this week. Stenson’s event form is certainly trending the right way having finished 8/5/2 in the last three years, and his current form is also trending the right way 28/11. Rose boasts a 2nd and a 3rd in the event, and his recent form of 6/16/17 also suggests he’s due to hit the frame soon.
Of those at bigger odds, it looks well worth including Matt Every and Jason Kokrak, 2 players at bigger prices who have more than decent recent course form. Every amazingly bids for a hat-trick having become the 7th player to win this tournament more than once last year and, though he’s not at the top of his form, he’s playing no worse than he was coming into the tournament last year. Meanwhile, Kokrak is a player who has the talent to hit the winner’s enclosure at some point this season and, having finished 4th and 6th the last two years, and having finished runner-up at Riviera 3 starts back, this could be his week.
1.5 points each-way Henrik Stenson @ 14/1 (Betfred, Betvictor, Hills) ¼ odds 5 places
1.5 points each-way Justin Rose @ 16/1 (Bet365, Betfred, Boylesports) ¼ odds 5 places
1 point each-way Matt Every @ 80/1 (Stan James) ¼ odds 6 places
1 point each-way Jason Kokrak @ 70/1 (Betfred) ¼ odds 5 places