Let me start this thing off by letting you guys know I plan on absolutely dominating the API this week. I just wanted to set that tone from the top. I suppose I’ll do the weekly recap from last week now. Didn’t go great for your boy. The Chris Kirk top 20 at +280 was the bright spot in the week. And I can’t talk about last week further without commenting on the Daniel Berger choke job. This guy was up 5 strokes heading into Sunday’s round. It took him 5 fucking holes to give that entire lead up. He ended up finishing in 4th losing by 3 strokes to the leader. Berger is a Florida kid. He had all his friends and family there and absolutely melted. I am sure he had the party already planned, that’s a brutal showing from Berger and I can’t imagine how shitty he felt. Then it looked like Lowry was just going to win by default since Berger choked, but NOPE. Out of nowhere comes Sepp Straka. Sepp shot an impressive -4 on Sunday and that was enough to capture a win. So, shout out to Sepp Straka. Who in their right mind thought he was going to win? That’s enough recap for me. Let’s go through the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Arnold Palmer Invitational
Location: Orlando, Florida
Course: Bay Hill
Par: 72 – 4 par 3s, 10 par 4s, 4 par 5s
Length: 7,466 yards
Greens: Bermudagrass – FAST
Average Green Size: 7,500 sq ft. – 7th largest on tour
Field Size: 120 players – Top 65 players to make cut after 36 holes
Purse: 12 Million – Winner $2.16 Million
Previous Winners – Odds Included
2021: Bryson DeChambeau (-11) – 12/1
2020: Tyrrell Hatton (-4) – 55/1
2019: Francesco Molinari (-12) – 33/1
2018: Rory McIlroy (-18) – 20/1
2017: Marc Leishman (-11) – 100/1
2016: Jason Day (-17) – 14/1
Tiger Woods: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013 (Had to be thrown in there)
Let’s get into the Arnold Palmer Invitational (API), which honestly should be called the Tiger Woods Invitational after looking at how many times he’s won here. No disrespect to AP though, ill be sipping vodka + AP all weekend out of respect. This event is held at the historic Bay Hill golf club. Bay Hill will test these guys to their fullest extent.
A true complete golf game is required to win here. The fairways have been lengthened and widened a bit over the years. They are still considered narrower-than-average but, hitting driver here is a little easier than we will see on some of the other courses during the Florida swing. It is a Florida course, so you know some water is in play. There is water on 9 of the holes and 84 bunkers in play this weekend. Additionally, we are seeing a much more penal rough this week. I’ve been reading it’s grown out to about 3.5-4 inches which is almost US Open style rough. Definitely need guys that are going to keep it in play. This is going to be similar to last week in the fact that par is a great score on a lot of these holes.
The greens here are large, but they are also quite fast. Putting is going to be huge this week. We generally see the winner of this tournament having a top 10 putting performance for the week. Long iron play will be especially important this week as well. All 4 of the par 3s are 200 yards plus. They are extremely challenging, so we will definitely be looking for guys with good long iron play, although I don’t think iron play alone is enough this week. Par 5 scoring will be huge! They are all getable in 2 shots for the longer hitters. We will definitely see some eagles and a ton of birdies at these holes. This is where you need to score in order to be successful. The last factor to consider here is the wind. Just like other Florida tournaments, the wind plays a major factor. I mean look at the difference in the final score from 2021 (-11) to 2020 (-4). It just goes to show how much differently this will look if weather is a factor. Looking at the forecast now, it doesn’t seem like weather will be that bad, definitely not to the level it was in 2020.
The field this week is extremely solid. I was a little sad to see no Morikawa or JT who are my favorite golfers, but this is still a great field. World #1 John Rahm is making his debut at this event which should be interesting to see. Rory, who has had great success here, will be playing. We don’t get to see the defending champion Bryson DeChambeau. He had to WD stating that his wrist injury is still not healed. I am not a Bryson fan by any means, but what he did here at #6 last year was pretty remarkable. I think most causal golf fans will remember that drive he hit over the water where he had both hands up as the ball flew through the air. The purse this week is the largest we have seen on tour this year. Additionally, winning Arnold Palmer’s tournament is a great honor and give some extra motivation to play for. Lastly, the Masters is coming up soon. A lot of these guys that haven’t qualified yet are extra motivated to play well and get the prestigious invitation from the Masters. So now that I have laid it all out, lets get into the picks!
Viktor Hovland +1800
If you know me, it doesn’t take much convincing for me to back Hovland in any tournament. He is the #4 ranked player in the world at 24 years old. He already has claimed 3 victories this season. Last time out he finished 4th at the Genesis, so this is just a guy playing really good golf. Vik has always been great off the tee and a great iron player but what has really impressed me has been his putting. He has gained strokes in 7 out of the 9 events he has played in this year. I think that will be huge for his success this week. The around the green game is getting better from him as well. Come on Viiiiiiiiiiktor!
Will Zalatoris +2900
You will probably see this name on my card until he wins, or I just get sick of betting him. I call it the “Zal Tax.” I think everyone that has watched this guy play the last year and a half knows he is going to win soon. His iron play is legitimately world class. Where Willy Z struggles is on the putting green. One of these days he is going to just put it all together and I promise you I will not miss out when he does.
Matthew Fitzpatrick +3000
Matty Fitz seems like a nice fit for this place especially when you factor in how important putting is. I also like the aspect that he is English, so if it does get windy, he definitely has an advantage. Fitz is always the guy going low when the conditions get worse. His last three outings at the API he finished 10th, 9th, and 2nd so this truly is a great course fit for him. His last two events he played this year he finished 10th and 6th, so the guy is also in form. Think Fitz is a real solid play this week.
Keith Mitchell +4500
Killa Keith Mitchell made his return to my card again this week. I just can’t quite this guy right now. I had him on the card last week and he finished 9th which is another great outing for him. He has some history at Bay Hill as well. He’s bagged a 5th and 6th here in the past. Keith is one of the guys not yet qualified for a lot of the majors, so he has some extra motivation to perform well. So, let’s hope the Killa comes out this week!
Max Homa +4500
I’ll round my outright card out with one of my favorite players on tour, Max Homa. To me Homa is still on an upwards trajectory and is only getting better. In his 5 starts this year he has finished top 15 in all but 1. Last year he finished 10th here at the API. If Max can putt half decently, I think he will have a shot.
Matthew Fitzpatrick +100
I already went over Fitz in the outright section, but he had to be added to my top 20 card as well. Finishing top 10 in each of the last 3 years here is just something I cannot overlook.
Adam Scott +140
Scott was the final cut from my outright card. Normally when that happens, you’ll see them on my T20 card. Scott has finished inside the top 20 in 3 out of the 4 events he has played in this year. This course should suit him well and he’s been putting better. Add in the fact that he has 2 3rds and a 12th place finish here, as I love Scott to get inside the top 20.
Jason Kokrak +170
If you want to talk horses for courses look no further. Kokrak has 4 top 10s at this event. The guy has a win this season. How could you not take the Kok to finish top 20 this week?
Erik van Rooyen +330
EVR is a guy who I think fits this course pretty well. He is a solid putter and keeps the ball in play off the tee. EVR hasn’t had an amazing season but he is still a top 50ish player in the world. We did see him have a nice stretch in the middle east, so let’s hope he can find some of that form.
Danny Willet +600
Here is my long shot of the week. Former Masters champion Danny Willet. I’ll be honest im not going off a ton here. I thought Willet popped a bit at Honda last week. He has a top 20 here in the past. Another English golfer that will do well if conditions aren’t the best.
Full Tournament H2H Matchups
Rory McIlroy > Jon Rahm +140
This is a scary one fading world #1 Jon Rahm. But Rahm has never played in this event before. Whereas Rory absolutely dominates this place. Rory has been in great form as of late as well, where we have seen Rahm struggle a bit, especially on the putting greens. If there are going to give me +140 ill take it!
Viktor Hovland > Scottie Scheffler -110
When I looked at the odds board and saw Scottie the same price as Viktor, I scratched my head a little bit. Scottie has been playing great golf and got his first win, but Hovland is a much better golfer in my mind.
Hideki Matsuyama > Sungjae Im +105
The battle of the Asian players in this one. Another line that just doesn’t quite make sense to me. Deki is a Masters champion and has a significantly better pedigree than Im. He is simply a better golfer and I don’t think that’s debatable. And HES A DOG!? Gimme Deki all day long.
Will Zalatoris > Tyrrell Hatton -115
Hatton has to be feeling dejected after coming up one shot sort last week. Surly he thought he had that thing in the bag after Berger melted. I think that has to be in his head still. Im more than comfortable fading him with the ball striking phenom, Willy Z.
Jason Kokrak > Sam Burns +100
I went over Kokrak’s history here earlier, so you know why I like him. But he’s a dog to Sam Burns!? Burns has missed the cut his last 3 tournaments he played. He missed the cut here last year. I really can’t understand this line. Once again come on KOK!
Christiaan Bezuidenhout > Corey Conners +120
Bez has been solid this year. He has made the cut in 6 out of the 7 events he has played in with a couple top 20s mixed in there. Conners has missed the cut in 3 of the last 4 times he has played. I think this line is inflated because of Conners success here last year, but I think that was an outlier. I mean he missed the cut in his two other appearances. Bez has finished top 20 both times he has played here. I love this play.
That’ll do it for my card this week. Again, I really love the card I put together and I plan on dominating this tournament. Follow along on twitter for any last minute or round by round plays that I may post. Additionally, you should listen to our podcast Smokin’ Greens. It will be live on Twitter tonight then in podcast form tomorrow morning. Thanks for reading!
Twitter: @Bminus3 @Smokiin_Greens