Round 1 PGA TOUR Live Featured Group Odds & Betting Picks for Arnold Palmer Invitational

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Getty Images. Pictured: Bryson DeChambeau

  • PGA TOUR Live will have four separate featured groups on Thursday's Round 1 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
  • The afternoon wave features Sungjae Im, Marc Leishman and Rickie Fowler, along with Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau.
  • Justin Bailey picks out his best bets among Thursday's featured groups, including why the final one of the day is offering nice value.

The PGA TOUR has released the featured groups for the Arnold Palmer Invitational for their live streaming service, which means it’s time to sweat some bets! Typically, the main bets for these featured groups will consist of matchup bets or three-balls.

The goal of this piece is to provide you with actionable and easily digestible information, to help both of us make informed decisions on these bets.

So, each week I’ll be using the golf metrics in the FantasyLabs Player Models, along with other industry metrics in search of potential edges in these matchups.


Groups listed in order of tee times. Odds via bet365. Get up to $100 in bet credits at bet365 today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose (7:54 a.m. ET)

Molinari won this event last season, but he hasn’t been the same golfer since his downfall at the Masters. A lot of his damage last year at this course was done with his putter as he gained just 1.4 strokes on approach, while gaining 6.8 with his putter.

It’d be hard to back Molinari (+350, $10 bet would win $35) in this three-ball matchup. Over the last 75 weeks, he’s averaged +1.0, +1.4 and just -3.0 adjusted strokes on par 3s, 4s and 5s. Minimizing damage on par 3s and 4s here will be a critical part to success at Bay Hill and Molinari likely isn’t capable of that right now.

Rose (+250) hasn’t gained strokes on approach or off-the-tee in any 2020 PGA TOUR event. In fact, he’s near the bottom of the field in both metrics this year — ranking 101st in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and 104th in Strokes Gained: Approach.

That brings us to Rory, who is the perfect fit for Bay Hill as his average adjusted strokes on par 3s, 4s and 5s all rank inside the top three in this field.

Additionally, he’s the outright favorite to win this event at +500, and he leads the field in Long-Term Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score). Long-Term Adjusted Round Score is a propriety metric of ours that measures average strokes per round over the past 75 weeks, adjusted for the difficulty of the course and strength of the field. If you could pick one stat to be first overall in, this would be it.

And on top of that, Rory hasn’t finished worse than sixth at this event over the last three years.

There really isn’t a bad thing to say about him. It’s hard to make a case against him on paper, and he’s sitting at -143 ($14.30 bet would net $10) against Molinari and Rose. To break even on this bet, Rory would need to win 58.84% of the time.

I normally don’t like to lay juice on three-balls with how much volatility there is in a single round of golf, but with Rose and Molinari both failing to show any signs of life to begin the year, I’m willing to make an exception here.

Rory’s superior LT and Recent Adj Rd Scores are significantly better, which is one of the main factors for me here. (Recent Adjusted Round Score is computed the exact same way as LT Adj Rd Score, except it looks at the past six weeks, instead of 75.)

  • Rory: 67.8 (LT Adj Rd Score) and 67.4 (Recent Adj Rd Score)
  • Molinari: 70 and 72.2
  • Rose: 68.9 and 71

Over the past six weeks, Rory’s Recent Adj Rd Score is nearly four strokes better than both Rose and Molinari.

Adam Scott, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day (8:06 a.m. ET)

In this group, we have Scott, who has a 26th and first-place finish to begin the 2020 season, while Koepka has finished MC, 43rd. Day has been slightly better after going MC, fourth and 16th.

At the time of writing, the three-ball odds are Scott (+137), Koepka (+200) and Day (+200). With so much volatility in a single round of golf, I don’t like the idea of backing Scott at those odds.

However, even though Day isn’t a perfect fit for the course, I’d be willing to back him against Scott and Koepka at +200. At those odds, you’d need a hit-rate of 33.33% to break even on this bet.

Day is exceptional off the tee, ranking 13th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee over his last 50 rounds. He’s historically elite with his putter and his around-the-green game, so if he can string his irons together for one round, there’s an outside shot he could take down this three-ball.

His biggest obstacle would be Scott, who has elite long irons and is strong tee-to-green.

If you’d rather just short Koepka instead, Day is sitting at -105 ($10.50 bet would win $10) in a head-to-head against him for the first round. Given Koepka’s poor recent form and poor course history at Bay Hill, I don’t have an issue backing Day in this spot either.

[Bet now at bet365. NJ only.]


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Sungjae Im, Marc Leishman, Rickie Fowler (12:44 p.m. ET)

This is an interesting grouping because we have two players in Im and Leishman who both have wins in 2020. Meanwhile, Fowler has been struggling this season as he’s going through a swing change.

Considering how important off-the-tee and approach play is at Bay Hill, I’d have trouble backing Fowler at +187 in a three-ball. This year, Fowler ranks just 55th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 57th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (Fantasy National).

If you think Fowler’s struggle continues into Round 1, then you’re essentially looking at Im (+150) vs. Leishman (+187) in the three-ball. Their long-term metrics and recent form are close enough, that I don’t see a significant edge in backing either of them.

Sometimes passing is the better bet. Betting is a marathon, not a sprint.

Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau (12:56 p.m. ET)

This is might be my favorite three-ball of all featured groups on Thursday. Mickelson is sitting at +300 against Reed and DeChambeau but considering Mickelson ranks 110th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and 109th in Strokes Gained: Approach, it’s hard to envision him beating both Reed and Bryson.

That brings us to Bryson (+120) vs. Reed (+160) as the remaining contenders in this three-ball.

Even though +120 is a shorter price than I’d like to play in this three-ball, I still want some action on Bryson here. Reed got the win in Mexico, but that was largely due to his putter. He gained an absurd 11.8 strokes putting and lost one stroke off-the-tee. In fact, Reed has lost strokes off the tee in his last two events. That won’t fly at Bay Hill.

Meanwhile, Bryson has been dominant from the tee box over his three 2020 events — gaining 6.0, 3.8 and 5.4 stokes off-the-tee. Additionally, nearly 32% of approach shots will come from 200-plus yards this week and Reed struggles with long approaches — ranking 114th in proximity from over 200 yards, respectively.

If Bryson’s dominant tee game continues, I like his chances in this spot.

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