We are back at Arnie’s place, one of my favorite weeks of the year. Bay Hill is in my Top 5 golf courses I’ve ever been to, and Twilight 9 will be there Saturday to take in all the action!
12 of the Top 25 players in the world are in Orlando this week, and even more big names will be joining them! Let’s go over the field…
Tyrrell Hatton is back as the defending champion, and since putting on the red cardigan, Hatton has grabbed 5 Top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour, and 2 European Tour wins.
If Rory McIlroy is looking to get his 2021 season finally jump started, he has come to the right place. Along with a win in 2018, he hasn’t finished outside 6th at this event since 2017. He’s coming off a decent week at the WGC (6th), so our guy will be one to watch.
Other big names in the field include Viktor Hovland, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Rickie Fowler, and Jason Day.
Jordan Spieth is in good form, and will make his API debut on Thursday.
Bay Hill Club and Lodge
Dick Wilson and Joe Lee (Original Design), Reimagined by Arnold Palmer
Another week, another golf course that demands good iron play. The greens at Bay Hill annually rank as some of the toughest to hit in regulation. Data Golf has a tool that measures each SG category against each other to determine which one causes the most variation among scores in the field – SG: Approach is #1 this week at 37.3% (followed by Putting at 32.1%).
Bay Hill can’t be overpowered, it demands that your entire game is in good shape. That being said, it’s a longer golf course, with penalizing rough – so finding fairways at a high rate on top of solid distance is needed around here.
Having multiple starts at the API definitely helps. Knowledge about course management and where to miss will make scoring around Bay Hill much easier.
Data Golf Information
Course Fit: 1. Royal Portrush, 2. Olympia Fields CC, 3. Congressional CC (Blue)
Trending (of the players in the field): 1. Viktor Hovland (Last 3 starts: T6, T5, T2), 2. Paul Casey (1, T12, T5), 3. Max Homa (T7, 1, T22)
% Chance to Win (Baseline, Course History & Fit): Rory McIlory (8.9%), 2. Bryson DeChambeau (8.3%), 3. Viktor Hovland (5.6%)
Twilight 9 Card
Won a few bets last week, but let’s have a HUGE tourney at Bay Hill.
We’re starting this week with our guy, Rory McIlroy. He loves Arnie’s place. Since 2017, he has a T5, T6, a win, and a T4. At the WGC he finished inside the Top 10, and had pretty much his C game. He played the Par 4s and 5s -16, but the Par 3s killed him at +4. I don’t think that will be a problem at Bay Hill, as the Par 3s aren’t extremely challenging. He’s a great Par 5 player, and will have to take advantage of that here (the Par 5s are very getable). Like I said, history here is very important, and he has that. The putter looked like it was a bit better at the WGC, changed to a new one. He’s the favorite at +900.
Top 30 – Max Homa (+150)
We have to. He was one shot away from a Top 20 last week, and he’s our other guy so he’s going back on the card. He’s 3rd in trending of the players in this field, and has played here before (T24 in 2020). Iron play is critical here, and his swing seems to be in full control. I expect that to continue at Bay Hill, especially after being able to finally rest for a few days, as he’s played a lot of golf recently (7th week start playing).
Top 20 – Matthew Fitzpatrick (+125)
This is another guy that just loves Bay Hill. 2020: T9, 2019: Solo 2nd, 2017: T13, 2016: T27. His last 2 starts are a T5 at the Genesis and T11 at the Concession. He was inside the Top 20 in SG putting and approach last week which are the 2 categories I’m looking at most this week. If that putter stays hot, look for him to have another successful week in Orlando.
Top 30 – Kevin Kisner (+164)
He has mixed history at Bay Hill, but does have a runner-up finish back in 2017. Bermuda greens are where Kiz thrives, so putting this week should be on point. He was in the mix heading into the weekend at Concession, but a Saturday 80 quickly halted any chance of winning.
Top 30 – Marc Leishman (+150)
Loves him some Orlando golf. He was 2nd here last year, T23 in 2019, T7 in 2018, Won it in 2017, T17 in 2016. He had a Top 20 at the Farmers, and 2 decent weeks in LA and Bradenton. His iron play is the best part of his game, and if the wind picks up around Bay Hill, the Aussie is a great bet.
Top 20 – Sungjae Im (+125)
He disappointed us in Bradenton, but he’s always a play when the TOUR is in FL. Solo 3rd here last year, T3 in 2019. His was good off the tee and on the greens at the WGC, but iron play really struggled. With his ball striking ability, I don’t see that happening again. +125 for a Top 20 in this spot, with his history, is great value.
Top 40 – Luke List (+138)
Luke has 3 straight Top 20s at the API, and before missing the cut at the Genesis, had 3 solid starts with a T21, T10, and T30.
Top 10 – Jason Day (+335)
He had to withdraw from this tournament the last 2 years, but before that, has a great track record here. 4 straight Top 25s, which includes a win back in 2016. His last 2 starts on the PGA Tour have been solid, with a T7 at Pebble, and a T18 at Concession. His putter seems to be back, which has always been his biggest weapon. If his irons get hot, watch out for Day this weekend.
Cover via GolfChannel.com (Getty Images)