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After most of the top players did not play in last week’s Honda Classic, they are back this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational from Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge just outside Orlando.
It is a designated event, which means a star-studded field, including world No. 1 Jon Rahm, who has already won two of three designated events this year. He has the best odds to win at +650.
With narrow fairways, thick rough, firm and fast greens, Bay Hill can be one of the hardest courses of the season if the wind picks up. As of Tuesday, it’s expected to be a windy tournament, especially on Friday, with gusts expected over 30 miles per hour.
This could lead to some high scores.
With windy conditions over the weekend a year ago, Scottie Scheffler won the event at 5-under and only 10 players finished the tournament under par. Then in 2020, a year that also featured windy conditions, Tyrell Hatton won at 4-under.
Because of this, it will be worth targeting the best ball strikers and the players who excel in the Bogey Avoidance metric. It’s also worth noting the Bermuda greens, as some players putt better on them than others.
At 7,466 yards, it’s a longer course by PGA Tour standards, but a variety of players have been able to win in the past. Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, and Rory McIlroy have won, but so have shorter hitters like Francesco Molinari and Matt Every.
Another thing to keep in mind is the last six winners of the event all had at least one top-15 finish at a prior Arnold Palmer Invitational. This would suggest course history is more important than most weeks.
Below are some players to target when golf betting, followed by my betting card for the week.
Jon Rahm is predicted to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a 13.33% implied probability – i.e., the overall chance of a potential outcome in relation to the odds – according to betting markets.
Scottie Scheffler has the next best odds to win with a 10% implied probability. He’s followed by Rory McIlroy at 9.09%.
*All odds are as of Feb. 28.
There’s no question Rahm is the hottest player in the field, with three wins on the PGA Tour already this season, including two designated events. He’s also gone 10 straight events worldwide without finishing lower than T-8.
With that being said, he has struggled historically with Bermuda greens. That should be something to consider this week, especially given his odds.
McIlroy has had a ton of success at this tournament. Not only did he win the 2018 edition, but he has also the most Strokes Gained at the tournament over the last five years at 51.24. The next closest is 33.6.
The No. 3-ranked player in the world doesn’t have a top-25 finish on the PGA Tour yet this calendar year.
Zalatoris figures to be one of the more popular plays this week, given his success on difficult courses. Since 2020, he has 17 top-10 finishes, and 12 of them would be on “difficult” courses. Those include Torrey Pines, Muirfield Village, Riviera CC, Winged Foot, The Country Club, Southern Hills, Kiawah Island, Augusta National, and Bay Hill.
After missing last fall due to a back injury, he has put the rust behind him as he finished fourth in his last start at the Genesis Invitational.
Bradley has enjoyed plenty of past success at this event, including finishing inside the top 11 each of the past two years. He’s an excellent ball striker, so if the wind picks up, that could be in his favor.
He’s also enjoyed a strong 2023, with two top-20 finishes in his last three events.
This is way down the odds board, but Bezuidenhout has thrived on Bermuda greens and has finished in the top 20 at this event each of the last three years.
In nine starts this season, he has two top-25 finishes, with his best being a T-11 at The American Express.
· Collin Morikawa Outright Win +1800
· Matt Fitzpatrick Outright Win +3300
· Sam Burns Outright Win +4000
· Jordan Spieth Outright Win +4500
· Will Zalatoris Top-5 Finish +350
· Keegan Bradley Top-20 Finish +170
· Christiaan Bezuidenhout Top-20 Finish +375
When it came to selecting players to win outright, I weighed having a top-15 finish in a prior edition of the event over my Fantasy National model.
None of those four players were inside the top 10 of my model, although Fitzpatrick was No. 12 and Morikawa was No. 14. Meanwhile, Burns and Spieth were No. 40 and 43, respectively. This seems to be a tournament that favors course history more than others.
Bradley and Bezuidenhout were mentioned in the sleeper section.
Below is the top 10 of my model:
1. Rory McIlroy
2. Scottie Scheffler
3. Jon Rahm
4. Scottie Scheffler
5. Jason Day
6. Will Zalatoris
7. Max Homa
8. Sungjae Im
9. Patrick Cantlay
10. Xander Schauffele
Who are you betting on to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational? Bet on them risk-free at BetMGM using the offer below!
Ryan Hannable is a copy editor on the Web Content Team for BetMGM. Previously, he was a New England Patriots beat writer for WEEI in Boston. He also has published a golf book, “The Ultimate Book of Golf Trivia: 600 Questions and Answers.”