The Arnold Palmer Invitational was founded in 1979 as the successor to the Florida Citrus Open Invitational, and since 1979 the event has been hosted at the iconic Bay Hill Club and Lodge.
It is one of only five tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule that has an invitational status, which basically just means a smaller field. Yet with the event being granted elevated status, which has essentially just come to mean that all of the best players in the world will be in attendance competing for a $20 million dollar purse, the field has been raised to 136 players.
Once again, all of the best players in the world will be in attendance, including Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, Max Homa, Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Sungjae Im, Will Zalatoris, as well as former winners like Jason Day, Francesco Molinari, and Tyrrell Hatton.
With the PLAYERS Championship right on deck, the Tour is now reaching the meat and potatoes of the Florida Swing, and while we always miss champions walking off the 18th for congratulations from Arnold Palmer, his presence lives on at one of the premier events of the year.
Before we get into our picks for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, make sure to take a moment to check out these awesome sports betting offers for this week. With the offers below, you can turn $6 into $350 guaranteed, or you can use one of the HUGE first bet offers, to wager with more confidence on your Arnold Palmer Invitational selections this week.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Course Preview
Bay Hill Golf Club & Lodge
The Florida Swing gets off to an incredibly difficult start, and if you thought PGA National was hard, just wait until you see the task at hand at the iconic Dick Wilson venue.
Bay Hill Club plays as a par 72, tipping out to 7,466 yards, and last year, it played as the third toughest course on the PGA Tour. Bay Hill has always been challenging, but in 2019 they hired a new superintendent who actually made the fairways a touch wider, but shaved off a great deal of rough surrounding the water and bunkers, making it far easier for balls to roll into hazards.
He also made the existing rough far thicker, and Bay Hill definitively features the thickest rough on the PGA Tour outside of the U.S. Open. Since Flynn took over in 2019, the winning scores have been -12, -4, -11, and -5. Last year, it featured the hardest set of par threes on the PGA Tour and the second-hardest set of par fours on the schedule as well.
For this reason, it is absolutely essential for players to score on the four par fives, which have historically ranked as the four easiest holes on the course. Ultimately, Bay Hill requires an extremely balanced attack of powerful driving, par-five scoring, elite long iron play, and a deft touch around the greens. Over the years, every single winner has been near the top of the field in either driving distance, par-five scoring, proximity to the hole, or scrambling. Any player that is non-elite in at least one of those three skill sets is an easy cross-off for me, and I am extremely excited to watch the best in the world take on such a difficult test.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Key Stats
- Long-term Proximity 200 yards plus
- Strokes Gained Around the Green: Bermuda-grass courses
- Strokes Gained Off the Tee: Long golf courses
Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks and Predictions: Outright Winner
Will Zalatoris (+2500) (Bet $100 to collect $2,600) The best odds for this Will Zalatoris pick are at FanDuel
While typically one of the most popular selections in the betting market week in and out, Will Zalatoris has not been a player I have invested much in over the past couple of years. That changes this week for me, as I believe this is an ideal spot for the rising star.
Zalatoris answered all questions about his lingering injury history with a fourth-place finish at the Genesis where he gained 3.9 strokes off the tee, four strokes on approach, 2.4 strokes around the green, and 2.4 strokes putting. I love buying in on players that are coming off a week where they gained strokes in all four major categories, which is the exact type of well-rounded approach that is extremely necessary at a course like Bay Hill.
The Wake Forest alumnus remains one of the best drivers of the ball on long golf courses, as well as the best long iron players in the field. My only concern is the short game, but even that has been trending in the right direction. Will Zalatoris will be the first to admit that his favorite style of golf is U.S. Open conditions, and with the rock-hard greens and extremely thick rough, Bay Hill is as about as close to a U.S.-Open-like set up that players will see on the PGA Tour all season.
Hideki Matsuyama (+6600) (Bet $100 to collect $6,700) PointsBet has the best odds to Hideki Matsuyama to win this week
At this current moment, there’s nothing really jumping off the page about Hideki Matsuyama, but that is of course reflected in his number. In terms of pure value, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better bet on the board than the former Masters champion. I love to pounce on players that are coming off a missed cut in which they gained strokes in both ball-striking categories, which was certainly the case for Matsuyama at Riviera. Last week, he gained 0.7 strokes off the tee and 1.6 strokes on approach.
Of course, he fell victim to a faulty putter but on the whole, Hideki has been much better of late, and he’s actually gained strokes putting in his last four appearances on Bermuda grass. Grabbing a player of Hideki’s caliber at this high of a number provides a great deal of flexibility in creating a card with multiple elite players this week, and I would not be the least surprised if the Japanese superstar reminded us that he is still a top-20 player in the world and picked up PGA Tour victory number nine in Orlando.