Who to back at the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Arnold Palmer Invitational: Steve’s top tips
There’s a lot of focus on Tyrrell Hatton’s temperament and that sometimes masks what a quality player the Englishman has become.
He almost added to his three European Tour titles with a World Golf Championship crown in Mexico a couple of weeks ago and has adapted well in limited starts on the PGA Tour.
Tenth in Mexico 12 months ago, Hatton then went on to finish fourth at Bay Hill. Having performed so strongly last time out, another fine week awaits in Florida. At 25/1, I’ll be on him.
Jason Day won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2016 and, following a rough time personally and professionally, the former world number one is getting back to his best.
He won the Farmers Insurance Open at the end of January but, equally as impressively, backed that up with a tied 2nd in his next start at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
What of Tiger Woods?
Any thoughts that the 14-time major winner wouldn’t be able to compete on the PGA Tour are now firmly consigned to the dustbin after the Valspar Championship.
Woods (13/2) has certainly enjoyed himself at Bay Hill – winning eight times. A back-to-back victor in 2012 and 2013 he also won four in a row from 2000.
As much as this represents a great opportunity to build on last week’s excellence, I’m not sure I want to back him as the clear favourite.
Innisbrook, with its demands on strategy and accuracy, suited Woods’ rebuilt swing. He’ll have to hit driver more often this week. I’m yet to be convinced he’s got that part of his game under control.
There’s no reason why he can’t be in the mix again but, given that Day is second favourite and nearly double the price, it may be there is better value out there.
Arnold Palmer Invitational: Steve’s each-way bets
I’ve convinced myself at Adam Scott (40/1) isn’t too far away from putting together a very good week. Successive top 20s at the Valspar and Honda Classic are his best results since the Bridgestone Invitational last August.
Scott doesn’t appear every year at Bay Hill but he was 12th in 2016 and third in 2014.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (60/1) is in red hot form, having won the Super 6s in Perth, finishing top 5 at the WGC in Mexico, and winning wire-to-wire at the Richard Mille Brunei Championships last week.
Clearly, the quality in those events is variable but his performance at Chapultepec was impressive. He’s got some significant Bay Hill form to look back upon as well.
Back to back top 10s in 2015 and 2016 (he was 6th on both occasions) are not to be sniffed at. High on confidence, the Thai looks an excellent each way shout on his third trip to Arnie’s tournament.
Francesco Molinari hasn’t posted a top 10 on the PGA Tour since the exhibition Hero World Challenge last December.
There were signs in Mexico, where he finished tied 25th, that he was finally starting to find some gears.
You’re taking a bit of a risk with the Italian on current form, even at 60/1. But it’s hard to ignore Bay Hill finishes of seventh, ninth and fifth in the last four years.