I hope you read all the way to the end of last week’s betting preview. Chris Kirk was my second outright selection for The Honda Classic. Although I feature one winner pick per week, my outright card always carries a couple more names in Read The Line. Kirk was listed at +2800 in the article and some readers were even able to grab him as high as +3500. With Jon Rahm winning everything else at very low odds, getting 30+ odds was a great win in a field of unknowns.
The favorites betting board is full again as we head to the Bay Hill Club and Lodge for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. I am once again on the grounds covering the PGA TOUR and at Arnold Palmer’s winter escape in Orlando, which has hosted the PGA TOUR since 1979. Let’s discuss this tournament and course in detail, review the full odds board for this weekend, and then go over a few of my best bets.
Arnold Palmer Invitational betting guide: Course and tournament info, past results and trends
This original Dick Wilson design is very predictable in more ways than one. When it comes to the routing, the Champion (front nine) and Challenger (back nine) mirror one another. The par-3s are tough, par-5s are scoring chances and each side has the same amount of dogleg par-4s.
In 2022, Bay Hill played as the hardest non-major course on the PGA TOUR. At 7,466 yards this par-72 scorecard gives these guys all they can handle. Eighty-four bunkers decorate the landscape and 55 can be found around the green complexes. Remember when Viktor Hovland and Gary Woodland got lost in the sand? With the weather predicted this week, keep an eye on the short game again.
Nine of the holes have water that comes into play. Avoiding bogey on Palmer’s playground is no easy task. Those four brutal par-3s average 217 yards in length. The toughest set on Tour, they especially help differentiate this field. We will need help separating them as 23 of the top 25 in the Official World Rankings plan to compete.
We have another “designated” event in store and the purse reflects it. The field is 120 players and the top 65 and ties make the weekend. Those approximately 70 players will share a $20 million dollar purse. First place gets another $3.6 million dollar check. It’s no wonder Jon Rahm has $9.8 million in earnings this season! The API has been an invitational for a number of years drawing an elite field, but none like this.
The average winner’s odds over the last five years are +2700 (27-1). Those five winners only averaged 10 under par. The key to understanding the King’s course is simple: Mr. Palmer wanted Bay Hill to play like a US Open. Start with very firm Bermudagrass greens roughly 7,500 square feet on average. The harder they play, the smaller they become. Over-seed the Bermudagrass rough with Rye and thicken it up. Having walked around this week, I can tell you the King would be very happy.
Can anyone stop Jon Rahm? Well, I bet the defending champion Scottie Scheffler will have a say before Sunday afternoon. Of course, a couple others might want to take down the king of the mountain as well. How will they do it at Bay Hill? Here’s the inside edge on what to look for before you place your bets this week.
Leaders in Scoring Average this season:
68.4 – Jon Rahm
69.2 – Rory McIlroy
69.2 – Scottie Scheffler
69.3 – Jason Day
69.3 – Max Homa
69.4 – Tony Finau pic.twitter.com/DF9EPZOThA
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 20, 2023
Arnold Palmer Invitational betting guide: Keys to winning
Strong iron Approach games
The last 10 winners of the API on average gained over five strokes against the field on Approach. Even though that’s significant, all of them did it in a very specific way. Almost one third of your iron shots come from over 200 yards. You have to be a great long iron player to win. Three of the last five champions are Scottie Scheffler, Bryson DeChambeau, and Rory McIlroy. These guys hit towering long iron approaches and that gives them a serious advantage.
Putting matters here, too
Putting is often overlooked. These Bermudagrass putting surfaces are some of the most subtle on tour. In the last decade, the winner’s have gained an average of 6.3 strokes against the field with the flatstick. That’s more than on approach! Scottie won last year with great lag putting and Tiger Woods won eight times by gaining significantly on these greens.
Surviving heat and hitting greens
The guys will miss GIR’s this week. The weather looks extremely hot and very, very windy on Friday and Saturday. Getting up and down for par, or on a par-5 for birdie will differentiate you from this elite field. The greens are covered in bunkers or water and sometimes both. Think of recent winners like Tyrell Hatton and Fransico Molinari who slipped past their competition with some serious swagger in their short game.
Dominate the par-4s
Score on the par-5s, survive the par-3s, and the player who dominates the par-4s will win. The five best par-4 players in this field are Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, Tony Finau, and Max Homa. This is the reason why they all contend each week. Bay Hill has a varied set of par-4s. They require great off the tee skill and iron play.
Arnold Palmer Invitational betting guide: Full odds board
Odds via PointsBet
|Si Woo Kim||+11000|
|Min Woo Lee||+12500|
|Byeong Hun An||+25000|
Arnold Palmer Invitational betting guide: Best bets
Don’t miss another win! For a complete list of my betting predictions covering winners, placements, H2H matchups, One and Done picks, and DFS recommendations for the LPGA and PGA TOUR, please go to Read The Line and subscribe.
Outright winner: Will Zalatoris (+2200 on PointsBet)
I have mentioned several times how Bay Hill plays like a major championship. Will Zalatoris has six top-8 finishes in the last nine majors. He has an incredible long iron game and is extremely long and accurate off the tee. Pundits complain he cannot putt, but if you look at the analytics, he rolls it well on difficult greens. Will is a Top 5 ball striker in this field and a Wake Forest alumni just like Arnold Palmer. Zalatoris finished fourth at the Genesis two weeks ago and looks very healthy.
Outright winner: Jason Day (+3300 on BetMGM)
Another name I love in the outright market is Jason Day (+3300 BetMGM). Similar to Willy Z, he hits towering long iron approaches and can score around the greens.
5 under through 7. Gotta love seeing Jason Day back in the mix. pic.twitter.com/oipfsilejz
— Fore Play (@ForePlayPod) February 19, 2023
Top 40 finishes: Tommy Fleetwood (+100 FanDuel) and Thomas Detry (+175 DraftKings)
Two other guys who can flat out flush the golf ball are Tommy Fleetwood and Thomas Detry. The two “Toms” are solid ball strikers and scramblers, and should hold their own and place this weekend.
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