2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational Betting Preview
Tiger Woods is back at Bay Hill this week to defend his title against a quality field of PGA Tour champions at the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational Fact Sheet
- Course: Bay Hill
- Location: Orlando, Florida
- Yardage: 7,419 yards, par 72
- Defending Champion: Tiger Woods
- Five Consensus Favourites: Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Graeme McDowell
- Thursday – 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Friday – 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Saturday – 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 2:00 to 6:00 PM ET (NBC)
- Sunday – 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 2:00 to 6:00 PM ET (NBC)
Key Storyline(s) This Week
Everyone’s going to be watching Tiger, which isn’t really news, but his recent back trouble is cause for concern. His third round at Doral proved that he’s still more than capable of putting together some impressive rounds, but if his back gives him the kind of trouble that it did the following day at Doral, he’s got no hope, even as he goes for a ninth title at Bay Hill. There’s almost no chance that he adds anything else to his schedule before the Masters, so this will likely be his final tuneup before his most important tournament of the year.
Other things to note:
- Jason Day pulled out on Monday, citing a thumb injury. It’s the same thumb problem that forced him to withdraw from the Honda a few weeks ago, and it’s widely assumed that he’s doing it so he can be fully ready to go for Augusta. Charl Schwartzel is also out this week as his wife is very close to giving birth with the couple’s first child.
- Patrick Reed is in action this week for the first time since his “controversial” comments from two weeks ago. If he has a bad week, it’s going to be interesting to see what the reaction is.
- David Duval is in the field this week on a sponsor’s exemption, where he will presumably not be as much of a mess as John Daly was last week.
Arnie’s Place is one of the marquee stops on the PGA Tour every year, attracting the type of field that is usually reserved for only the four majors and WGC events, but despite the quality of players entered, scoring is usually at a premium at Bay Hill. In the last seven years, the winning score has ranged from 5 to 13-under par, and has been consistently difficult since Palmer attached his name to the event in 2007 and made changes to the course in 2009. Players will need to take advantage of the 4th and 16th, two par-4′s that were converted to par-5′s with the redesign and now play as the two easiest holes on the course, a stark contrast to the original design as they were the two most difficult holes back in 2008.
The signature hole is the 18th, a relatively short par-4 by today’s standards, but one that has given many players trouble over the years and has produced a ton of signature moments for others. At 458 yards, there really isn’t much to it off the tee, assuming that players can find the large fairway. Most players will be looking for a drive of around 300 yards on the left side before the fairway narrows and brings the water into play on the right-hand side. When the pin is tucked in the back-right corner, which it will be on Sunday, players will have a long carry over the water and rocks that guard the green, with a massive bunker behind it for those who go long. If they decide to bail out on the left side, they’ll likely end up in one of two traps that take up roughly 90% of the area. Last year, it was the number one handicap hole on the course, playing to a 4.40 average, the highest it’s been in the last five years.
The weather for the week is looking pretty good, with just a little bit of cloud coverage in the early rounds. The wind is expected to pick up on the weekend, but not so much that the players are in any kind of trouble.
Thoughts On The Favourites
- Tiger Woods (7-1): Tiger’s history at Bay Hill is well documented, with eight wins at the course, including four of the last five events played. I touched on his back problem above, but I think it’s safe to say that if he’s healthy for all four days, he’ll be a factor on Sunday.
- Bubba Watson (14-1): After a disappointing 2013, Watson has played very well in 2014, finishing in the top-25 in each of his five starts, and cracking the top-10 in the last four. In eight trips to Bay Hill, he’s put together four top-25’s and a T34 to go along with three missed cuts.
- Justin Rose (14-1): Looks to be fully recovered from the shoulder injury that caused him to miss a good chunk of time earlier in 2014, and you can ignore that final round 74 at the Valspar, as that is nowhere near indicative of the kind of player that Rose is. Finished as the runner-up last year to Tiger after opening with a 65 in some ridiculous conditions. That finish was his third consecutive top-15 at Bay Hill.
- Adam Scott (16-1): Scott is making a rare trip to Bay Hill this year, teeing it up for just the seventh time since 2001. He hasn’t performed overly well here either, with a tie for third back in 2004 being his only real notable finish, and he’s only played here once since the above mentioned redesign. That week in 2009, he missed the cut with rounds of 72 and 77.
- Graeme McDowell (22-1): McDowell’s been really hit and miss at Bay Hill, with a pair of runner-up finishes in 2005 and 2012, but he’s also missed two cuts and had a pair of non-factor events, ending up tied for 40th in 2009 and 45th last year. He’s playing pretty well though, and if the wind does pick up as expected on the weekend, he’s going to be a threat.
Rickie Fowler (Best Odds 50-1 at Sportingbet)
Nothing crazy this week in terms of my suggested plays, just looking at some each-way bets, and we’ll start with Fowler. He’s been hot and cold to start 2014, but the consistency will start to come once he gets real comfortable with the new swing under Butch Harmon. He usually plays well here too, finishing tied for 3rd last year, and was going great in 2011 until a final round 78 threw him right out of contention.
Lee Westwood (Best Odds 81-1 at BETDAQ)
I’m aware that the last time Westwood finished in the top-10 anywhere was five months ago, but he’s great value at this kind of price. He’s usually in the mix at Bay Hill too, although those good finishes typically came before the redesign. Last year was his first year back since 2008, and it didn’t go overly well, but he’s still an excellent ball striker that shouldn’t be available at this kind of price.
David Hearn (Best Odds 227-1 at Betfair)
Hearn has three consecutive top-25’s where he hasn’t been over par in a single round. He’s hot right now, and it will eventually run out, but much like Westwood, the price is too good to pass up.