Arnold Palmer Invitational Odds & Picks: How to Bet Rory & Other Round 2 PGA TOUR Live Featured Groups
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Rory McIlroy
ORLANDO — On our Action Network podcast earlier this week, Peter Jennings offered a sharp observation in regard to Rory McIlroy, who opened as a rightful +550 favorite ($10 bet wins $55) at the Arnold Palmer Invitational: Even if we love the 2018 champion’s chances here, it’s difficult to justify taking a shot at those short of odds, so the smart play could be waiting to see if he limped to a slow start, then betting him live.
Well, here’s hoping you jumped on that early.
Like, really early.
McIlroy bogeyed the second hole of his opening round and was still 1-over through six, undoubtedly leaving his backers fretting early Thursday morning.
That didn’t last. He posted an eagle and five birdies in his final 12 holes to shoot 6-under 66, which sits one behind Matt Every, who shot an impressive late-afternoon 65 in some heavy wind.
That +550 number now seems like a bargain, as McIlroy’s odds have dropped to +150 at PointsBet ($10 bet wins $15) with 54 holes still left to play.
This is hardly anything new. In fact, it offers a serious case of déjà vu.
Just two weeks ago, Rory opened with a 65 at the WGC-Mexico Championship, grabbing the early lead as his odds dropped all the way to +130 post-round ($10 bet would’ve won $13). Three rounds later, scores of 69-68-68 left him in solo fifth by the time it was over.
When asked if he could compare this start with that of two weeks ago, McIlroy said, “Definitely playing a bit better than I was playing in Mexico. Putting better. Driving it better. I think the course suits me a little bit better, as well. … I’m a little more comfortable on this golf course, comfortable with this style of play and a little more comfortable on the greens.”
I followed with a question about whether, even at this stage in his career, he can learn anything from having a recent first-round lead that didn’t culminate in victory. To his credit, he didn’t bite.
“I mean, 54 holes is still a long way to go,” he offered. “If you do shoot a good one, you know it’s in there, you know you’re playing well, so you’ve just got to try to keep it going.”
That’s a smart answer right there. I’ve often analogized the first round of a PGA Tour event to the first quarter of an NBA game: Sure, it’s better to be leading than getting smoked, but it hardly portends the conclusion.
If you acted on McIlroy at +130 after the first round in Mexico two weeks ago, you got burned. If you want to act right now, you might not get burned again, but you very well could be getting the worst of the number. Like Rory said, there’s plenty of golf left to be played.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “I’ve shot a good score and it’s great that I’ve done it on the good end of the draw. … It’s just nice to take advantage of it this morning and tomorrow’s a new day and we’ll see how that goes.”
Arnold Palmer Invitational Round 2 Betting Picks
Let’s take a look at the PGA Tour’s featured groups for Friday…
Marc Leishman (+194) over Rickie Fowler and Sungjae Im
- Tee time: 7:54 a.m. ET
- Payout: $10 bet wins $19.40
It was a solid opening day for this three-ball, as they each posted under-par rounds in the tougher afternoon conditions, with Im finishing with a 70 and Leishman and Fowler one shot further back. Each of them also posted solid ball-striking numbers of at least +1 strokes gained tee-to-green.
I don’t love it, but if forced to choose, I’m going with the former API champion in Leishman. I know that Fowler was working on some equipment changes earlier this week, and Im (despite his ironman status) could finally show signs of being worn down from last week’s win. So my process of elimination goes to the Aussie, but I’d approach this one with caution.
Bryson DeChambeau (+138) over Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed
- 8:06 a.m. ET
- $10 bet wins $13.80
This one isn’t much of a tough call. Following an opening 77, I’m automatically eliminating Mickelson, which is always a nice start when betting a three-ball. DeChambeau had terrific ball-striking numbers on Thursday, but his chipping and putting were well below-average. That’s something he told me recently he believed he had dialed in, so I expect a much better performance on Friday morning.
Rory McIlroy (-143) over Justin Rose and K.H. Lee
- 12:44 p.m. ET
- Payout: $14.30 bet wins $10
One of these guys is the best player in the world, fresh off shooting 66 and admittedly very comfortable on this golf course. Another has struggled with his game so far this year. And the other is K.H. Lee. Give me the worthy favorite in this one.
Adam Scott (+159) over Jason Day and Brooks Koepka
- 12:56 p.m. ET
- Payout: $10 bet wins $15.90
Wait … the same Adam Scott who opened with a 77, tied for the highest score of anyone in Thursday’s early wave. Yep, same guy, but hear me out: Scott owns a terrific recent record of second-round scores when opening poorly.
In the last eight instances he failed to break 70 in the first round — three times this season and five dating back to last season — he’s posted a lower score the next day every time and seven of ‘em have been in the 60s.
In fact, his scoring average in these situations is 67.38, meaning there’s no give-up once he’s started with a poor number. Adding to that, I spoke with Scott after Thursday’s round and he confirmed there’s no injury or illness this week. “Swing actually feels pretty good,” he said. “I just hit some bad shots.”