2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational Betting Preview: Which Players Have the Right Skillset to Win at Bay Hill?
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Will Zalatoris
The PGA TOUR continues its Florida Swing at Bay Hill Club and Lodge to play this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. This event has been a mainstay on TOUR, appearing on the schedule every year since 1979.
Bay Hill Club & Lodge is a par 72 measuring 7,454 yards and features Bermuda-grass greens. Interestingly, the past five editions of the Arnold Palmer Invitational have yielded an international champion. Bay Hill played as the most difficult course on TOUR last season. While weekend wind was a major factor in 2020, the course certainly has teeth whether there is wind or not.
There are 123 golfers in the field this week at Bay Hill. This event usually attracts a very strong field but it is a bit weaker this year due to where it fell on the schedule. With three premier events in the past three weeks, golfers don’t want to play The PLAYERS Championship (March 11-14) on the tail end of four (or more) consecutive weeks played.
Even so, the field this week will feature some of the world’s best including 12 of the top-25 players according to the World Golf Rankings. Among those expected to tee it up are: Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Francesco Molinari, Patrick Reed, Sungjae Im, Paul Casey and Hideki Matsuyama.
Past Winners at Bay Hill
- 2020: Tyrrell Hatton (-4)
- 2019: Francesco Molinari (-12)
- 2018: Rory McIlroy (-18)
- 2017: Marc Leishman (-11)
- 2016: Jason Day (-17)
5 Key Stats For Bay Hill
Let’s take a look at five metrics key for Bay Hill to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.
1. Strokes Gained: Approach
Approach is often the most important statistic and this week will be no different. This is a difficult golf course and players will be penalized for missing greens in regulation.
Total SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds
- Matthew NeSmith (+27.0) (+11000)
- Keegan Bradley (+24.7) (+10000)
- Cameron Tringale (+21.1) (+9000)
- Henrik Norlander (+20.0) (+11000)
- Will Zalatoris (+18.6) (+5000)
2. Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
To compete at Bay Hill golfers will need an excellent performance off the tee. Distance is important due to the length of the course and it’s layout but accuracy is just as important. We have seen some events of late where golfers can get away with bad tee shots, Bay Hill isn’t one of those courses. The rough is extremely thick and penal, so saving par after a poor tee shot isn’t likely.
SG: OTT Over Past 24 Rounds
- Rory McIlroy (+24.7) (+900)
- Bryson DeChambeau (+23.5) (+1400)
- Viktor Hovland (+23.4) (+1200)
- Luke List (+18.2) (+11000)
- Cameron Champ(+15.4) (+17500)
3. Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermuda and Lightning)
A major reason why Bay Hill played as the most difficult course on TOUR last year was due to the incredibly fast greens. The Bermuda putting surfaces have played “lightning” fast in every round since 2017.
SG: Putting (Bermuda and Lightning) over past 24 rounds:
- Marc Leishman (+23.3) (+5500)
- Sung Kang (+14.9) (+27500)
- Keith Mitchell (+12.8) (+17500)
- Tyrrell Hatton (+11.8) (+1800)
- Sam Burns (+11.1) (+5000)
4. Strokes Gained: Ball-striking
While ball-striking is in part off the tee and approach, I want the total tee to green package built into the model this week. It will take a well-rounded effort from tee to green to get it done at Bay Hill this week.
SG: BS Over Past 24 Rounds
- Viktor Hovland (+37.4) (+1200)
- Matthew NeSmith (+34.8) (+1100)
- Keegan Bradley (+34.0) (+10000)
- Henrik Norlander (+32.4) (+11000)
- Tyrrell Hatton (+27.3) (+1800)
5. Strokes Gained: Par 5
With four par 5’s on the course, it will be important to take advantage of these holes. While I don’t expect the winning score to be quite as uninspiring as last year, it certainly won’t be a birdie fest.
Whoever takes best advantage of the score-able par 5’s may have the best shot to win.
SG: Par 5 Over Past 24 Rounds
- Max Homa (+27.9) (+5500)
- Will Zalatoris (+15.9) (+5000)
- Patrick Reed (+15.6) (+1800)
- Hideki Matsuyama (+15.1) (+2800)
- Robert McIntyre (+15.0) (+15000)
Arnold Palmer Invitational Model Rankings
Note: Collin Morikawa was fourth in last weeks model rankings.
Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (27%), SG: Off the Tee (23%), SG: Putting Bermudagrass/Lightning (18 %), SG: Ball-striking (17%) and SG: Par 5 (15%).
- Sam Burns(+5000)
- Matthew NeSmith (+11000)
- Tyrrell Hatton (+1800)
- Will Zalatoris (+5000)
- Sungjae Im (+2500)
- Matthew Fitzpatrick (+2500)
- Bryson DeChambeau (+1400)
- Viktor Hovland (+1200)
- Cameron Tringale (+9000)
- Henrik Norlander (+11000)