2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational Sleeper Picks: Our Favorite Longshot Bets at Bay Hill
Warren Little/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Wallace
When it comes to betting there are few courses out there that are more fun than Bay Hill. It’s long, features plenty of water, has lightning-fast greens and, if the wind picks up, can play like a beast. That’s the type of chaos that can open up some doors for a longshot to come from the clouds and take down a field like this.
Here are our favorite sleepers for the 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational:
Matt Wallace (+15000)
Do yourself a favor and don’t look at the scores last week. Just don’t. You don’t want to see ‘em. Wallace played the Puerto Rico Open for some reason and didn’t play it well, as the world’s 57th-ranked player didn’t exactly make a run at making the weekend. He’s not far from having solid form, though, and he’s finished 24th-6th in two starts at this one.
Like Matthew Fitzpatrick, Wallace tends to do some of his best work on tougher tests. Throw a few darts on semi-cautious top-20/30 props, but don’t be shocked if he sneaks into the top-10 once again. He owns enough talent to win on the PGA TOUR and holds a lot of value this week.
Alex Noren (+14000)
I think Noren is worth a play at this number.
The last time we saw the 38-year-old Swede he was finishing 12th at Riviera thanks to his best ball-striking week since the 2020 Sony Open. And with this event basically playing like an honorary European Tour stop over the last few years, I’ll take a chance on Noren rolling that form into a good result at Bay Hill.
Sebastian Munoz (+14000)
It’s hard for me to choose from all of the longshots I like this week, but I’ll go with a streaky player that flashed some form last week. Sebastian Munoz was someone I noticed after the first round at the WGC-Workday, and he hung around for a solid 22nd-place finish.
Munoz would end up gaining nearly five shots on the field with his irons, and he has a tendency to run hot when he shows this type of form. The 28-year-old Colombian showed the ability to compete at the highest level throughout the end of last season with top-10 finishes in two of the three playoff events, and another at the CJ Cup.
I’ll press mostly on the finishing position odds for Munoz, but he’s worth a few shares as a long shot to win this week too.
Cameron Davis (+8000)
Cam Davis is a young player that I am generally high on, but he’s especially intriguing this week.
Bay Hill is a course that has been dominated by international players. In the past five years, two Australians have won The Arnold Palmer Invitational (Jason Day, 2016 and Marc Leishman, 2017) and we have seen at previous courses that Australians seem to play well on the same tracks (Torrey Pines, Riviera). In addition to the Australian connection, the 26-year-old Davis has been playing quite well.
In his last time out (Genesis) he gained 4.3 strokes on approach which is what I anticipate the most important statistic will be this week. Davis has the tee-to-green game necessary to compete on this tough track and ranks 11th in the field in Strokes Gained: Ball-striking.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational feels like the right time to take a shot on Cam. I also think it would be smart to take the +1400 on a top-5 finish as well.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+7500)
There’s a strong chance if you ask even the average golf fan how many worldwide wins Bezuindenhout has, there would be maybe 5% that could tell you that the correct answer is two. Both came on the Euro Tour, at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the Andalucia Masters, however he’s played well at many PGA TOUR events throughout his career.
The South African has multiple top-20 finishes at WGC events, as well as a T-22 at the Memorial. Bezuidenhout sits 37th in the world rankings at the moment and is coming off an 18th-place finish at this event last year. He’s the best bermuda putter in this field and if the weather picks up, his short game is also a major strength.
Outside of Rory and Bryson, the field is pretty much wide open, and getting a repeat winner at this price is very enticing.
Henrik Norlander (+14000)
If you read my Sleepers Weekly, be advised that I don’t look at the odds when assembling that fivesome. The lines are added by the staff after I file. My criteria for what constitutes a Sleeper is defined beneath the golfers. This is to say that compared to the others on this page, I’ll probably be on the edge of the target regularly.
However, since the API always crowns a prominent golfer or Matt Every, it’s not worth being unrealistic about any of my Sleepers capturing victory (à la Jason Kokrak as a Sleeper at Shadow Creek, for example), so I’ll stick with a current trend among winners at Bay Hill.
Like the last five, Norlander is an international (from Sweden), and like Tyrrell Hatton upon arrival last year, Norlander is a non-winner on the PGA TOUR. He’s inside the top-20 in numerous tee-to-green statistics and he’s only a month removed from a co-runner-up at similarly challenging Torrey Pines.