The Arnold Palmer Invitational is played each March at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge golf resort in Orlando, Florida. The event was founded in 1979 and has played under the Palmer name since 2007.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational is one of only five tournaments given “invitational” status by the PGA Tour and consequently it has a reduced field of only 120 players. As a restricted field event only the first 70 players on the previous year’s money-list are guaranteed invitations.
Palmer sadly passed away from heart complications in September 2016 at the age of 87. To honour his memory, a 13 foot statue in his likeness overlooks the first and tenth tees. Mastercard, the tournament’s long-time sponsor, covered costs for the statue’s production, shipping and installation as a way to honour Palmer and his legacy.
Bay Hill opened for play in 1961 and was designed by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee. Arnold Palmer redesigned the course in 2009. From its tips the Par 72 layout can stretch to 7,419 yards.
The event has been dominated by Tiger Woods who won four years in a row from 2000 to 2003. He also won the 2008, 2009, 2012 and again in 2013 for his eighth victory in the tournament.
Total Driving around Bay Hill is important. The course demands length off the tee and with challenging rough, wayward drives will be penalized. The greens continually rank among the most difficult to hit in regulation leaning Bay Hill towards the ‘second shot golf course’ category.
Bay Hill is not a course that can be overpowered and every aspect of a player’s game is tested to the full. Experience is vital and key for good course management. Scoring on the Par 5’s is important and like previous weeks, an ability to manoeuvre the ball in blustery conditions is essential.
2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational | Tyrrell Hatton
Last year, Tyrrell Hatton captured his maiden PGA Tour title with a one stroke victory at Bay Hill. The 28 year old Englishman shot a final round +2 (74) for a -4 (284) total. He was one of only four players to break par for the week. The swirling winds and challenging conditions meant Hatton’s score was the highest to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational since it began in 1979.
“That putt at 18, I have never been so nervous. I won’t ever forget this week.”Tyrrell Hatton
Hatton had a stellar week tee-to-green finishing 5th in the Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green category. In particular his iron-play on approach was key, finishing 2nd in the Strokes gained Approach-The-Green. This equated to over 53% of his overall gain or a gain of 7.268 strokes. Other stats for the week include T33 for Driving Accuracy, 45th for Driving Distance, T9 for GIR and 15th for Strokes Gained Putting.
2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational | Francesco Molinari
Francesco Molinari captured the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational for his third PGA Tour victory. The Italian started the final round five shots behind, but his bogey free -8 (64) in the final round put him at -12 (276) for the week, two shots clear of Matthew Fitzpatrick.
“That was probably the best putting round of my life”Francesco Molinari
Molinari’s strokes gained on the field average were split almost 50:50 between tee-to-green and putting. In particular his play from the tee was on point finishing top of the pile in the SG:Off-The-Tee category. This translated to a gain of 5.071 strokes for the week. Other stats include T3 for Driving Accuracy, 36th for Driving Distance, T6 for GIR and 4th in Strokes Gained Putting
2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational | Rory McIlroy
In 2018, Rory McIlroy captured the Arnold Palmer Invitational title finishing the week -18 (270). Surprisingly, it was a red hot putter that helped deliver the spoils for the Northern Irishman. He finished 1st in Strokes Gained Putting gaining over 10 strokes on the field average for the week.
“I wish I walked up that hill and got a handshake from him, but I’m so happy to put my name on that trophy”Rory McIlroy
McIlroy closed out the tournament with five birdies over his last six holes for a final round -8 (64) giving him a three shot victory. He finished the week T48 for Driving Accuracy, 1st for Driving Distance, T45 for GIR and 2nd in Putts per GIR.
2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational | Marc Leishman
In 2017, Marc Leishman holed a 50 foot eagle putt on the 16th hole to take the lead in the final round. He closed with two pars to finish on a score of -11 (277) to edge out Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman.
“You see guys win and he’s waiting there on the back of the green and to not have that is obviously very sad, but to win here is just a dream come true.”Marc Leishman
The Australian won on the strength of his approach play and putting. For the tournament he gained just over 13 strokes on the field average from his SG:Approach-The-Green and SG:Putting stats. He finished the week T17 for Driving Accuracy, T26 for Driving Distance, T1 for GIR and 2nd in Strokes Gained Putting.
2016 Arnold Palmer Invitational | Jason Day
The 2016 champion, Jason Day, was a wire-to-wire winner of the tournament. After the final round he had this to say;
“My iron play was very, very poor over the weekend but one thing that helped a lot was my short game.”
For the week, Day’s putting contributed 37 percent of his total gain on the field average, with his short game shots contributing another 30 percent.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Betting Tips
Sungjae Im 20/1 (E/W) – has teed it up twice at Bay Hill finishing T3 in 2019 and solo 3rd last year, so fair to say that the course suits his eye. Loosened up nicely after a two week break at last week’s WGC finishing T28. Around The Concession he was T15 in GIR and 15th for Strokes Gained Putting. Statistically balanced, he places inside the Top 20 in this week’s Stats Analysis. The 22 year old is also 15th on Tour for Driving Accuracy and 19th for Birdie Average. Arriving fresh to course where he has featured previously will boost confidence. This week sets up perfectly for the South Korean.
Louis Oosthuizen 35/1 (E/W) – has no form of note at Bay Hill with his best showing in the recent past a T28 in 2018. However, it is his Current Form that puts him firmly on this week’s radar. Followed up a T29 in the Farmers Insurance Open with a T11 in the WM Phoenix Open and a T6 in last week’s WGC event. Around The Concession he was an impressive 12th in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green and 8th in Strokes Gained Putting. The South African features just outside the Top 20 in this week’s Stats Analysis. He is also 11th on Tour for Scoring Average. His game is trending nicely and demands attention. His shortcomings around Bay Hill are more than compensated for by Current Form and Stats. Good value just off radar.
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