Arnold Palmer Invitational Betting Pick and Preview
It was a wild week at The Concession for the WGC-Workday Championship last weekend as Collin Morikawa finally found his putting stroke and won handily. The course showed its teeth for sure as we saw doubles and triples galore as well as lots of poor shots around the green. Zalatoris and Finau narrowly missed payouts for their derivative bets, and Matt Fitzpatrick had another good finish inside the top 20. Brooks Koepka finished a distant second to Morikawa but did win his matchup over Bryson. All in all, a solid week.
The Bay Hill Club and Lodge hosts the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week for the tour’s second of four stops on this Florida swing. This is an invitational which means a field of about 120 players. The field is pretty strong, considering some players will be resting up for The Players Championship in two weeks at TPC Sawgrass. Despite that, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, and Patrick Reed are in the field.
Bay Hill is a typical Florida course with water in play and Bermuda greens. It plays as a par 72, coming in around 7,454 yards. Past winners of this event include Rory, Molinari, and Tyrell Hatton last year. Rory and Hatton had excellent SG: Approach and SG: Putting the week they won, and Molinari was solid in every category.
Based on fantasynational.com’s course breakdown, by far, the most shots gained at Bay Hill are done so on approach, as the fairways are relatively easy to find and force you to lay back on some holes. There are four par 5’s, and only number 16 is eagled more than 1.3% of the time. Par 5 scoring will be key as the par 3’s are tough, all playing between 200 and 225 yards.
Success at Bay Hill hasn’t been necessary to compete, but players tend to play well here year over year. For example, Rory has finished at sixth or better each of the last four years. I will be looking at SG: Approach Opportunities gained and SG: Par 5, among other stats, and then looking to see which of those players has had some success around Bay Hill.
Let’s dive deep into the Arnold Palmer Invitational betting pick and preview!
Only two American golfers have won this event since 2006 (Tiger & Matt Every), which either means Americans are due for a win here or something about Bay Hill that foreign players like. For me, that seems like an anomaly that may have to do with more foreign players being in this event as it is typically the part of the year many come over here to play from Europe.
Winners have had different styles of golf and have won in different ways, like when Rory gained a whopping 10 strokes, putting on his way to victory. This winner can be hard to predict, but I hit on Hatton here last year, so here’s to back to back.
Patrick Reed +2100 (Fanduel)
Reed is lighting the golf course on fire right now, particularly with his putting. Reed has six top 15 finishes in his last eight starts, including a win at Torrey Pines earlier this year. Reed’s putter and short game have carried him over that time, but it was his ball-striking last week that showed up. Reed is third in SG: Putting in the previous 24 rounds in this field, and ranked 6th last week in SG: Approach.
Reed has had some success at Bay Hill as well. He has finished in the top 15 in two of the last three years. Reed is one of the best players in this field, and if his hot iron play matches up with one of his stellar putting weeks, he will be at the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.
Will Zalatoris +4500 (Draftkings)
Zalatoris’s floor is so high at this point that a top 20 play on him every week seems like a given. Since he started playing PGA Tour events in September, he has been the most consistent non-superstar. He has eight top 25’s in eleven starts.
He is second in the field in SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds and second in scoring on par 3’s 200-225 and second in SG: Par 5. He is in the tier below Justin Thomas and Morikawa as far as elite ball strikers on tour go, and he also drives it well, ranking 21st in SG: Off the Tee over the last 36 as well.
Zalatoris, unfortunately, really struggles on the greens. Last week, he was horrible and cost us a top 20 placement last week with a four-putt double bogey on 18. He is similar to Morikawa last week, where if he ever putts well, he will win. He will have to putt better than normal to win, but eventually, he will, and I don’t want to miss it.
Longshots I like: Marc Leishman +5000 & Lanto Griffin +8000
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Viktor Hovland +150 (Betrivers)
Hovland is right there for the hottest golfer on the earth right now after a runner-up finish at the WGC-Workday last weekend. Hovland is on a run of four top 5’s in five starts, including a win. His game is in tip-top shape, coming to a course that fits his game really well.
Hovland has gained at least four strokes on approach in each of his last three starts and has actually gained strokes putting in all three as well. Over the last 36 rounds, Hovland ranks in the top 10 of SG: Approach, SG: Off the Tee, SG: Par 4, and Par 5, as well as Opportunities Gained and GIR Gained.
He is dominating every category that matters here and should contend for the win again.
Will Zalatoris +188
Everything I said above applies here. Zalatoris has established himself as one of the best players on tour with an iron in his hand. Getting him to the top 20 at +188 is super good value. It’s his first time around Bay Hill, but this should be a good tournament for him.
I really think Zalatoris is poised for another great week, and his floor is so high.
Charley Hoffman +350
Hoffman has gained strokes off the tee in each of his four starts in 2021 and has gained strokes on approach in three of four. Hoffman also ranks in the top 25 of this field in SG: Approach and Off the Tee, as well as Opportunities, Gained and GIR Gained over the last 24 rounds.
He is consistently giving himself birdie opportunities; we just need the putter to heat up. Hoffman has had some really solid finishes at Bay Hill with three top 15’s in the last four years.
Chris Kirk +350
Chris Kirk is on a nice comeback run from a drinking problem and relegation to the Korn Ferry tour for a while. Kirk finished second at the Sony Open earlier this year and kept his full status on tour at the end of his injury extension.
Kirk has gained strokes on approach and putting in three of his four starts this year. Kirk also has two t-16 finishes this year to go with that second at the Sony. Kirk also has a nice track record around Bay Hill. He has three top 15 finishes in his last four starts in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Longshot I like: Matthew NeSmith +450
Lanto Griffin -112 over Christiaan Bezuidenhout
Griffin ranks 5th in my fantasynational.com model for this week, and Bez ranks 43rd. Lanto ranks in the top 10 over the last 36 rounds in SG: Approach, Putting, Opportunities Gained, and Par 3, scoring from 200-225.
Griffin is coming off of three straight top 26 finishes, including a 7th place finish. Griffin had a 36th place finish in his only start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year. Lanto is an excellent player whose iron play and putting gives him a good chance every week to compete.
Bezuidenhout is a solid player as well; he just isn’t of the same class as Griffin. Bez finished 32nd in his only start in the U.S. this year last week but lost strokes off the tee and on approach. His SG: Around the green saved him, and you can’t count on that every week, especially at Bay Hill, where approach play is so important.
Norlander is one of my favorite players to bet on the tour because of his approach play. Norlander ranks 6th in the field in SG: Approach and 5th in GIR Gained over the last 36 rounds. He gets himself as many looks for birdies as almost anyone.
Norlander is also a great driver of the ball. He hits it plenty far and keeps it in play. He ranks 11th in SG: Off the Tee over the last 36 rounds and 12th in SG: Par 4. Norlander is also playing some of the best golf of his career since the calendar turned over.
Norlander had four straight top 26 finishes before a missed cut while gaining strokes on the Genesis approach. Noralnders game profiles well for Bay Hill, and if he finds the putter, he can challenge for the win. Norlander is +400 to finish in the top 20 and +225 to finish in the top 30.