Arnold Palmer Invitational Predictions to Win
Dates: March 19-22, 2015
Course: Bay Hill Club - Orlando, FL
TV: The Golf Channel/NBC
by Evergreen, Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
Plenty of top-tier athletes eventually get to play in front of their childhood heroes but how great it must be to play in front of the King at the Kings course. The PGA Tour has a fantastic relationship with many of its iconic former stars but none really shine brighter than Arnold Palmer and the man himself welcomes the Tour to Bay Hill this week. The Palmer Invitational is truly by invite only so the field is a bit shorter than usual with only 120 players teeing it up. Tiger Woods has owned this event for more than a decade but he and his eight Palmer wins are still on the shelf, leaving top-billing to Rory McIlroy. Matt Every returns as the defending champion and the standout field also includes Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and Henrik Stenson among many other strong contenders.
The fact that Tiger will not be pursuing his ninth Palmer title makes this a wide-open event and McIlroys recent on-course scuffles leave a certain lack of a true favorite. Bay Hill has just about everything one looks for from a championship golf course. The 7,461, par-72 layout features the Florida staples of sand, water and big, rolling greens. Players wont have to be super accurate off the tee as the roughs arent Major-grade but you do have to avoid the trouble around the greens in order to score. The putter is the real stroke-saver here and players will need a good lag putting game as certain greens are easy enough to hit yet hard enough to yield more pars than birds. The winning total has been 13-under each of the last three years and it has been common for plenty of suspense down the stretch outside a few Sunday strolls turned in by Mr. Woods.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight the players that we think are good bets to win it all. We make a few picks to win and breakdown a couple of head to head matches that are widely advertised. Here are our picks for the 2015 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Jason Day (16 to 1 odds to win)
Rory is the 11/2 betting favorite but he hasnt been sharp enough and therefore a shaky bet with little value attached. At 16 to 1, you can have Day and his number 1 all-around stat sheet. Jason leads the Tour in birdie average, putting average and is top-10 in driving distance, scoring average and greens hit. There isnt much that would suggest Day wont make a run this week as he is saving strokes with a 15thranked scrambling game and he should make plenty of noise on a course that he can properly utilize his power game alongside his currently smoking putter.
Keegan Bradley (33 to 1)
If you like trends, then Keegan is your guy this week. Bradley notched a T3 here in 2013 and was a runner-up last year so there is just one spot left to go in order to hoist a trophy. Bradley has just a single top-10 in seven starts this year but Im guessing Bay Hill will snap him out of his mini-funk. This course demands a little bit of everything and, at his best, Keegan is as well rounded as they come. Bradley finished last year inside the top-25 in total driving, total putting, scrambling, birdies and scoring. He might be kicking it around a bit but talent like that doesnt stay down for long and he should have plenty of confidence at a course where he has been close to winning two years in a row.
Charles Howell III (66 to 1)
CHIII has been a workhorse with twelve starts already. He has just one missed cut and that came all the way back in the fall portion of the schedule. Charles hasnt made too many contending runs at Bay Hill but he has made the cut here every year since 2009 and has never been worse than T45. Howell is coming off a T10 at the Valspar and he has hit a ton of greens considering he has been wild off the tee to this point. Bay Hill wont overly punish some errant driving as long as Charles avoids the water and he has plenty of distance to attack the scoring holes. Howell is outside the top-125 in birdie average but still turns in a respectable scoring mark as he doesnt make too many unforced errors. He will need a better week making birdies in order to make a run here but the tee-to-green game is good enough.
Kevin Streelman (100 to 1)
There havent been too many true longshots winning this year so this might not be the season to hit the big payday but I like Streelman at this value as he is a clean 4-for-4 in Palmer cuts and he ran pretty well last week before a 73/74 finish. Kevin is 20thin total driving and 12thin ballstriking so I feel good about him navigating his way around Bay Hill but he will need to do better than his current rank of 136thin total putting. There is hope for that as Kevin is inside the top-30 in greens hit and that could translate to plenty of chances to make the birdies he will need to contend. He is 25thin total birds on the year so he can score, it will just come down to whether or not he can score for four straight days.
Head to Head Matches
Picks to win based on final score after all four rounds. Single round matches, live betting and a variety of prop bet action are available at BetOnline.
Webb Simpson v. Sean OHair (pick to win: Simpson)
The books usually do a solid job of pairing players to make for good matches but I think OHair is a step behind Simpson in this match. Simpson should be a fringe contender this week and has an edge on OHair in greens hit, ballstriking and scoring. Sean is the better putter of the two through the early going but Webb isnt bad in that category and Simpson is the better statistical scrambler despite being the weaker putter. That tells me OHair is hanging on due to his on-green game and is much more likely to flame out if the putter goes cold.
Gary Woodland v. Hunter Mahan (pick to win: Mahan)
If these players could somehow combine talents, then you might have one of the best golfers in the world. At nearly every chance to compare a scoring-relevant stat, one is shockingly better than the other but gives back most of that advantage in another category. Im ultimately taking Mahan here as he is the better putter, ranking just outside the top-50 while Woodland clocks in at 191st. Not surprisingly, Woodland also struggles at getting up and down and is 199thin that category, converting just 50% of his chances to save par. Somehow, Woodland has made up for much of that and is the better overall scorer but Im not betting on anyone that is 50% when they miss the green. I doubt either of these players will contend this week but Woodland has to be on the bust list and could miss the cut and give an easy win to Mahan.
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Good luck and good golf!