It’s the turn of the Arnold palmer Invitational on the PGA Tour this week and, after many requests from the great Arnold Palmer himself, Rory McIlroy has finally accepted his invitation.
The Bay Hill Club host the tournament, and the 7,400 yard par 72 course should really suit the world number one’s eye, however his lack of course knowledge and form doesn’t exactly make we want to rush to back him at around 11/2. Neither does his recent form which, whilst still better than many of his fellow competitors, has still looked a level or two below his “A” game.
Nobody his hitting the ball better than Henrik Stenson at the minute and, after two consecutive top-5 finishes, I expect him to go well this week especially as his course form has got better with each visit. However, I expected him to be about 16/1 and he’s only 10/1.
Of the other market leaders, Bubba Watson will probably only have eyes for the Masters in a few weeks time, whilst Jason Day has never shown any form in this event and is another who is targeting Augusta, as probably are Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler.
That leads us nicely to the first player who I think will have his eyes set on this prize.
A 2nd and a 3rd placed finishes from three visits show just how quickly Bradley has taken to Bay Hill, and the only thing that might hold him back from competing this week is his well documented change from the long-putter to a normal one. However, he played well at Riviera a few weeks back and can get in the mix again here.
JB Holmes 1 point each-way @ 40/1 (various)
The big-hitting Kentuckian probably should have won already this season and it’s a question of whether you think he’s been a bit unlucky or choked a bit. I’m inclined to think he’s been a bit unlucky as he could have easily won at both Torrey Pines and Doral. The latter course is the one that makes me think he can perform well here as he’d only previously finished 40th and 18th at Doral before finishing runner-up there this year, whilst he put up a career best 10th here last year – and maybe able to improve again.
Sean O’Hair 0.5 points each-way @ 66/1 (various) and 2 points top-10 @ 5/1 (Coral)
O’Hair looked like he was going to be one of the game’s superstars when he looked like he might win the Players Championship a few years ago – but he’s still only won 2 PGA Tour events. However, this is one of his favourite hunting grounds and his tied 10th last year came in the middle of a run of dreadful form. Earlier in his career he finished 2nd and 3rd here in consecutive years, one of which was after winning the Valspar Championship – which he nearly won again last week, losing in a play-off.
Jason Kokrak 0.5 points each-way @ 80/1 (Bet Victor) and 2 points top-10 @ 7/1 (Betfred)
A nice mix of course form and current form, finishing 7th last week and 4th in this last year – gives hope that another of the game’s big-hitters can post another high finish.