Arnold Palmer Invitational: Time to Get Behind the Tiger?
The golfing media is always obsessed with Tiger Woods no matter what his course form is like so, after the 14 time Major winner took second place at the Valspar Championship last week, there is increased focus on the American ahead of the next event on the schedule.
We called Tiger for a Top Ten finish last week and ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational which starts on Thursday, he now shoots straight to the top of the outright markets. He will be a little short for some but when you look at his previous record here, his position at the head of the golf betting is certainly justified.
Man to Beat
Woods is currently available at best odds of 6/1 with Black Type and Sun Bets for the win and that marks a huge lead over the chasing pack. Course form is a good indicator for this event and with that in mind, it’s worth noting that Tiger has won this event a staggering eight times, with his most recent win coming in 2013.
We’ve always been sceptical about his numerous comebacks which have, up to now, rarely shown promise and are usually fairly brief but this time there have been real glimpses of the man who was World Number One for so long. He looks short at that price but he may take some beating over four days.
We have a strong field heading to Florida this week and it’s very tightly bunched behind the favourite. 2016’s winner Jason Day is next on the list at best odds of 12/1 with bet365 and Betway while Justin Rose is available at a top price of 14/1 with William Hill and Winner Sports. Both feature in the Power Rankings and Rose showed good form over the first three days of the Valspar Championship last time out.
Rory McIlroy follows at a best of 18/1 with Ladbrokes and 188Bet but it’s been a miserable season on the PGA Tour for the Northern Irishman and we aren’t expecting him to return to form just yet. Things start to open up in the markets beyond that point and we now get to some really interesting prices.
Race to Dubai winner in 2017, Tommy Fleetwood has moved seamlessly to the PGA Tour at the start of the year and he looks to offer some good value at his top price of 22/1 with BetFred and Black Type. Fleetwood has good stats in terms of birdies or better percentage and that could be crucial over the next four days.
Fellow Englishman Tyrrell Hatton has also carried his form across the Atlantic and looks interesting at best odds of 28/1 with Boylesports who are also going top price of 30/1 on the Swede Alex Noren. In fact there is a whole host of players around the 20/1 to 30/1 mark who can all lay strong claims to lifting the trophy on Sunday.
Rickie Fowler has been slow at the start of 2018 but if he can rediscover his form from the end of 2017, he will be an exceptional pick at a best of 20/1 with Unibet and Sun Bets. Hideki Matsuyama enjoyed a hot streak of form from the end of 2016 to the start of 2017 and while he’s not hit those heights since, there will be interest in the Japanese golfer at best odds of 28/1 with Unibet and 888Sport.
Elsewhere, Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed can both be backed at a top price of 35/1 with BetFred and then we come to our defending champion, Marc Leishman at an excellent best of 40/1 with bet365 and Betway. There’s a huge choice already and we’ve only scratched the surface of a strong field so let’s move on now and see what it will take to win this week.
Since 1979, the event has been held at Arnold Palmer’s private course in Bay Hill, Florida and last year marked the first renewal since the passing of the great man. His legacy is a long par 72 where for once, distance hitting could be an important factor over the four days. With 84 bunkers and water in play on 50% of the course, accuracy will also be vital so we need someone with a good mix of qualities.
As for trends, we don’t tend to see extremely low scores and it’s very rare for any golfer to get round here with four scores in the 60s. We do have multiple winners aside from Tiger Woods and as recently as 2015, Matt Every of the US secured back to back titles in this event.
Reading through those stats makes it tempting to get right behind Tiger Woods and it could be his week but odds of 6/1 are driven by popularity to an extent and for any outright golfing market, they’re just too short.
Similarly, there is no-one that really jumps out at us this week and although we’re tempted to suggest backing Rickie Fowler, he just doesn’t have the form or the strong record on this course to back that up.
Therefore, we’ll be sticking with Each Way and Top Ten Options for Bay Hill. Patrick Reed is the Each Way punt after a strong showing last week culminated in a tie with Tiger for second and his 35/1 price is a generous one.
For the Top Tens, we expect Justin Rose to maintain his form from the Valspar last week and we’re adding in Marc Leishman who has the course form and Brandt Snedeker who is a bit of a punt but is overdue a return to the higher end of the leaderboard.