Arnold Palmer is set to smack the first drive at August in just 19 days. And it’s certain that he won’t hit it as far, or as well as he did throughout most of his career. A distinguished career of 95 career wins saw Palmer etched in history as one of the true greats of the game, however at 85, he isn’t expected to bomb one down the middle at Augusta (despite probably having more flexibility in his back than Tiger does).
Putting his Augusta thoughts to the side temporarily, Palmer hosts the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in this week’s PGA Tour action. The field features Rory McIlroy’s first visits; satisfying a promise to Arnold Palmer to make an appearance at the tournament. Henrik Stenson, returns to the fold after we narrowly missed on our tip on hime last week, and Adam Scott are the other notables in a relatively strong field. Most players looking for some momentum in the lead up to the Masters,
Bay Hill Club & Lodge is one of the better known courses used on the PGA Tour Schedule. Known as Bay Hill or simply “Arnie’s Place” (after owner Arnold Palmer) the 7,419 yard, par 72 course, offers one of the best challengers in Florida. Plenty of water surrounds the 18 holes, none more so than the closing three holes, which have produced many an exciting finish.
The Sound Bites
“It’s important to play well here, to get into contention and just feel what it’s like, final event going into Augusta, just feeling something on the last day and the back nine in contention, having a chance to win all that stuff” – Rory McIlroy spoke about his Bay Hill debut.
“Regain the confidence he had when he was starting out and that was what made him what he is and that’s the way he’ll get it back, just regain the confidence and the ability to hit the golf ball” – Tournament host had some advice for Tiger; Rory didn’t need any.
The Defending Champion
Matt Every surprised everyone in the field, and himself, when he outlasted Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley last year to lift his first PGA Tour trophy. It was Adam Scott’s tournament to lose after an opening 62 gave him a whopping seven shot lead after 36 holes. He gave it up though, with a closing 76, allowing Every to sneak past a fast finishing Bradley who narrowly missed forcing a playoff when a birdie try slid past on 18. Every is unlikely to go back to back given he’s currently 160th in the FedEx Cup standings. If you do fancy a rough though, he’s at $200 to win.
Rory McIlroy – $6.80
Henrik Stenson – $10.00
Adam Scott – $20.00
Billy Horschel – $90.00
Gary Woodland – $95.00
*Arnold Palmer International odds courtesy of Betfair Australia.
Scott won’t play as badly as he did last week; McIlroy should always be in contention despite a sluggish start to his US season; Stenson has finished in the top 4 in all of his last four tournaments and must be close to a win; Horschel is slowly starting to get back to some form and likes Bay Hill; Not noted above but Harris English and Kegan Bradley also going well at the moment. Hard to look past Scott and Stenson, but we’ll go Horschel.
Bet on Henrik Stenson to become the BMW PGA Championship Winner.
Back Australia to take the Ashes home with them.
Back Rafael Nadal to become the Mens French Open Winner.
Back One For Arthur to win the Grand National.
Back Mexico to win the Confederations Cup.