2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational Early Picks: Rory McIlroy’s Time to Shine

2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational Early Picks: Rory McIlroy’s Time to Shine article feature image

Pictured: Rory McIlroy. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

While the fields aren't quite what we want them to be in some of these "regular" events, they certainly don't lack for storylines.

Chris Kirk captured his first win in eight years on Sunday as he held on in a playoff over 34 year-old rookie Eric Cole. Kirk captured his fifth career victory and first since taking a leave of absence to address alcoholism and depression issues in 2019.

This is a story that goes well beyond the golf course and while the field wasn't close to the best we have seen this year, it didn't stop the PGA Tour from having another great story come to the forefront.

We get back to the elite fields this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational as 44 of the top 50 players in the world are set to tee it up at Bay Hill. This event will lead right into The Players Championship, setting us up for another great stretch of golf across the next two weeks. Next week, we could certainly see some surprises at the top of the leaderboard, but at Bay Hill, I expect the cream to rise to the top at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Arnold Palmer Invitational Early Picks

Rory McIlroy

I could sit here and write up Jon Rahm for the next 30 weeks of the golf season, but I'm not going to do that.

Instead, I will simply sink money into trying to beat the best player in the world. I'll start with Rory McIlroy this week as has to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder. McIlroy came into the year as hot as any player, but really hasn't shown that form in the states in 2023. His win in Dubai was great, but he hasn't even sniffed contention on the PGA Tour and that has to have him motivated heading into a course he has always played well.

McIlroy doesn't have a finish outside of the top 13 in his past five trips to the Arnold Palmer Invitational and that worst finish was last year when he got off to a blazing start in the opening round. He put on a red cardigan in 2018 and has steadily contended in this event ever since. I don't expect a discount this week, but he should fall into the second or third slot when odds open Monday.

Sungjae Im

There are times in the PGA Tour schedule where we buy into a player so much that it's inevitable they disappoint. Nothing short of a win would have been seen as a success this past week Sungjae Im, but I'll be looking to go right back to him this week at Bay Hill.

The overall strokes gained numbers really weren't bad for Im this week as he mostly just struggled on the greens. His numbers will look worse because of one swing on Sunday where he lost 1.68 shots to the field on approach (his iron shot on the 12th), but overall he continued to swing it well.

I am a believer in the "flop lag" approach where a player bounces back after a week where we expected big things, and this is a course where the South Korean has had a lot of success in his young career.

Keith Mitchell

We have known for quite some time that Keith Mitchell has the talent, but we hadn't seen it quite as consistently as what he's shown over his past three tournaments. The Georgia Bulldog has posted top-5 results in two of his past three events and now heads into the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where his long and accurate game off the tee will come in handy.

Mitchell has two top-6 finishes to his name at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in his past four trips and I'll be looking to see if we can get some decent odds to buy in on him again this week.

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