Arnold Palmer Invitational Analysis, Odds, Picks
Event: Arnold Palmer Invitational
When: March 5-8, 2020
Where: Bay Hill Club – Orlando, FL
Watch: The Golf Channel/NBC
With the Florida Swing underway, we get to see some of the most important and historic venues on Tour. Places like PGA National and TPC Sawgrass have written some of the most memorable stories in PGA history, but it would be hard to match the gravitas of this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Arnie’s own Bay Hill Club. One of the legendary players of any generation only grew his influence by becoming a course architect, and tournament host and the Palmer stands as a player favorite event. Francesco Molinari is the defending champion, and he is looking to reverse a slump that started shortly after his win here last year. He is 100 to 1 to defend according to the board at Bovada, so he certainly fits the bill of the big payday longshot if you think he can rekindle his winning swing at Bay Hill. Rory McIlroy leads the betting favorites with Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and Jason Day also teeing it up. Bryson DeChambeau, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler are among the best chances from the US player contingent. This event has been dominated by international players with Tiger Woods and Matt Every the only Americans to win here since 2006. The Palmer is part of the British Open Qualifying Series, and there are more exemptions granted to the winner than in a typical week, so there is plenty on the line this week.
Bay Hill fits the typical Florida themes of sand and water, but Palmer tweaked his signature course in 2009 to provide a full test for the modern game. Six of the first nine holes play over par on average, but the other three are some of the easiest on the course, making the outward nine a highly volatile portion of the course. The 7,450 yard, par-72 layout concludes with a birdie chance at the par-5, 16th, and then a problematic par-3 at 17 before a dramatic finale. The masterfully designed par-4 final hole features a green that requires an increasingly brave and precise approach as pin placements move back and to the right through the week with the water more and more in-play as those moves happen. Winning scores have been as low as five-under and as high as 19-under, but no matter the score, most Palmer finishes are tight. Nine of the last eleven editions have been decided by no more than two strokes with six of those by just one stroke.
Each week, we take a look at the online sports betting sites and highlight the best values on the board. We make a short, middle, and long odds pick to win and breakdown a couple of head-to-head matches that you can find at just about every golf betting outlet. Odds to win and pairings for this week come courtesy of the board at Bovada. Here are our picks to win the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Xander Schauffele (18 to 1 odds to win)
Schauffele hasn’t cashed in a win yet this season but has been close with two runner-up finishes and has been remarkably consistent by finishing in the top-25 in each one of his six cuts made. He will be making his Palmer debut, but I like him to overcome any experience deficit with the 6th best greens hit rate and top-12 birdie and scoring marks. Xander’s game truly is a fit for just about every course as he ranks in the top-10 in both off-the-tee and overall tee-to-green metrics with a top-5 scrambling stat for good measure. The putter has trended toward Tour average, and that has been what has kept him from a win recently, but I think he is ready to win everywhere else on the stat sheet. A good week on the greens will have him not only as a factor but as one of the leaders. If betting “golfer to win” is too risky for your blood, you can bet Schauffele to finish in the top 5 at +425, top 10 +185 and top 20 at -115 (I love this wager!) at Bovada Sportsbook. They’ll give you a 50% real cash bonus up to $250 in free bets as well! Click here to sign up now!
Adam Scott (25 to 1)
Scott has moved up to 7th in the OWGR after making the cut in each one of his six 2020 starts and winning The Genesis. He is bringing an impressive 11th best GIR putting average to Bay Hill, and that work with the putter is primarily responsible for the 13th best scoring average this season. The only real weakness on Scott’s stat sheet is a pedestrian fairway hit mark, but I think Florida courses are perfect for the sometimes crooked drivers, and Scott rebounds with a top-50 GIR rate despite playing from the rough a little more than the average player. He remains a top-15 player in overall strokes gained and has the power to challenge the par-5’s here, so he should be in an excellent position to take advantage of the best scoring opportunities. He did manage a solo third in 2014 to mark his best Palmer finish.
Tony Finau (33 to 1)
Bay Hill is a big course, and long drivers can undoubtedly gain an advantage by overpowering certain holes. Schauffele and Scott are both top-35 drivers in terms of length, and Finau fits that mold as well, ranking 30th in 2020 driving distance. He is also sometimes wild off the tee but rallies to produce a top-35 GIR percentage and the 6th best overall tee-to-green rating. He is a solid scrambler and enters the week 35th in birdie average on the strength of a top-30 GIR putting average. I think Finau is a player that is made for Florida golf in general, so I think he continues to build on a solid 2020 season that has already seen him make seven of eight cuts and finish 2nd in Phoenix.
Golfer vs. Golfer matchup Picks to win are based on the predicted score for all four rounds. H2H golf bets are a great way to get in the action if you feel like trying to pick the winner is too difficult (which it is!)
Justin Rose (-115) v. Marc Leishman (-115) (pick to win: Leishman)
Rose has some Palmer success with a 2nd place run in 2013 under his belt, but he is scuffling a bit in 2020 with two missed cuts in four starts, including a 6-over effort that had him miss the weekend at the Honda. Leishman has missed the cut in just one of his eight starts this season and is 2-0 against Rose in head-to-heads, including at the Farmers where Leishman gained his 5th Tour win. Leishman is also the 2017 Palmer champ to make him look like a very tough out in any head-to-head this week. Rose has a tremendous stat sheet, especially if you are looking at some longer-term trends, but Leishman is not far behind in birdies and scoring over that span with Marc owing substantial advantages in tee-to-green metrics in the short term. Basically, Leishman is hot, and his current trend has proven to be of a winning caliber, so make Rose prove he can return to his top form before getting your money on his side. Find this bet and a lot more at Bovada, which is one of the best betting sites on the web. They’ve been around for 20 years! Check out our Bovada Sportsbook Review for all the reasons why you should bet there!
Collin Morikawa (-115) v. Matthew Fitzpatrick (-115) (pick to win: Morikawa)
Matt Fitzpatrick is a trendy pick this week based on his 2nd place finish from last year, and extensive Palmer record in general as 2020 will be his sixth start at Bay Hill overall, but I like Morikawa, and his ten made cuts in as many starts to begin the season. Fitzpatrick is also perfect at five-for-five this season, but he has one standout finish of 7th at the HSBC while everything else has been north of the top-30. Collin has notched two top-ten finishes and has been a consistent finisher in the top-25 with a T42 in Mexico marking his worst finish in 2020. That kind of consistency makes Morikawa a tough out in head-to-heads, and he owns stat advantages over Fitzpatrick in greens and fairways hit. Fitzpatrick is the slightly better player on the greens, but Morikawa is out-scoring him at the moment, and I like that trend to continue based on the recent results. I’m not sure either player is set for a run at the top this week, but I like Morikawa to be in the low twenties in terms of finish with Fitzpatrick outside the top-25.
Good luck and good golf.