The Arnold Palmer Invitational
Dates: March 22nd-25th, 2012
Course: Bay Hill Club Orlando, FL
TV: The Golf Channel/NBC
By Evergreen, PGA Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
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Even decades removed from his top form as a competitor, Arnold Palmer remains one of the most popular golfers in the world and this week he welcomes the PGA Tour to his Bay Hill Club for the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational.The event from the Orlando area continues the spring Florida Swing and is a favorite among many players on Tour.Tiger Woods highlights the field and the six-time champion appears to be over the strained Achilles that forced him to withdraw from the WGC-Cadillac Championship.Woods is among the players that are competing in the non-PGA Tavistock Cup and seems to be playing pretty well, leading the golf sportsbooks to list him at 7 to 1 to win the event.Phil Mickelson is also in attendance and a majority of the top-50 in the world are here to round out a very strong field.
Bay Hill has a reputation as one of the toughest tracks in the Tour rotation, especially after the 2009 Palmer re-model that moved fairway bunkers back into play and created tougher green complexes.The fairways are wide by Tour standards but negotiating 80 bunkers and 7 water hazards will require a strong approach game just to get pars.The course measures nearly 7,400 yards and the par-72 layout can be scored on in the early going.The finishing three holes will likely determine the winner come Sunday as the par-5, 15thaffords an easy birdie opportunity before the par-3, 17thand par-4, 18thwhich rank as the third and first most difficult on the course.A good putting stroke will be needed on greens that typically run near 12 on the stimp, making up and downs more difficult than usual.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight a few players that we think can win it all.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 any quality offshore sportsbook.Here are our picks for the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Short Favorite Pick: Webb Simpson (16 to 1 odds to win)
Simpson is perfect on the season with six made cuts in his six starts and is coming off his third top-10 after finishing T10 at the Transitions.Webb hasnt had the best luck at the Palmer with a couple of missed cuts to go along with a T11 but he looks to be swinging too good to not do well this week.Webbs only down stat this year is hitting fairways and that shouldnt matter as much at Bay Hill.Otherwise, he ranks 10thin greens hit and is in the top-2 in both birdie average and birdie or better percentage on all par-4s.If Webb can clean up a couple of loose shots, hell be there come the weekend.
Middle of the Road Pick: Bubba Watson (28 to 1 odds to win)
You want to have a bomber at Bay Hill and what better bomber than the longest player on Tour?Watson also leads in greens hit probably because he always has a wedge in his hand and he has putted well enough to produce the 9thbest birdie average.Bubba hasnt missed a cut in 2012 and his worst finish has been a T18.Hes missed a few cuts at Bay Hill but he has also run in the top-10 so look for a good finish this week based on what hes done so far.Watson enters the week 12thin overall ballstriking and doesnt disappear against strong fields. (2ndat 2012 WGC-Cadillac)
Longshot Pick: K.J. Choi (50 to 1 odds to win)
Looking at the winners list at the Palmer, you see a lot of Tiger of course, but you also see names like Singh, Els and Furyk.Veterans have always seemed to do well at Bay Hill and K.J. proved he could contend last year with a T6.Choi hasnt missed a cut this year in six starts and has an eight week cut streak alive going back to last year.He hasnt been in any real contention this year but a place like Bay Hill rewards patient and accurate play and that is Choi in a nutshell.K.J. seems to enjoy the Major-like fields which he will get this week and if nothing else, hell be looking to heat up heading to Augusta.
Head to Head Matches *picks to win based on scores after all four rounds.Check with your favorite online bookie for single round matches and a variety of golf prop bets.
Bo Van Pelt (-115) v. Jim Furyk (-115) (pick to win: Van Pelt)
Given the course and his performance last week, you would think Furyk is a good pick here but Van Pelt also ran well at the Transitions and has been swinging well all year.Van Pelt owns solid advantages over Furyk in ballstriking and putting in 2012 and Furyks ability to find fairways is a bit less important at Bay Hill than in most weeks.Bo is a little more prone to mistakes but is also in the top-3 in birdie average with Furyk outside of the top-125 entering the week.
Sergio Garcia (-115) v. Hunter Mahan (-115) (pick to win: Mahan)
Sergio deserves a ton of credit in getting his putter stroke figured out but that might not be enough to take out Mahan.Hunter hits more fairways and greens than Garcia and has better birdie and scoring averages despite trailing Sergio with the putter.Garcia needs to be a little more consistent from tee to green before you can pick him against the 2ndbest ballstriker on Tour.