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  • Writer's pictureDanny Speck

Arnold Palmer Invitational preview and betting tips 2023

Sony Open Golf Preview 2023
Danny expects Zalatoris to kick on from his Genesis performance

Arnold Palmer Invitational Golf Tips

3pts ew Will Zalatoris 28/1 (5)

2pts ew Tyrrell Hatton 35/1 (8)

1pt ew Tommy Fleetwood 75/1 (8)

1pt ew Keegan Bradley 90/1 (5)

0.5pt ew Tom Hoge 110/1 (8)

Chapter two of the Florida swing for golf fans this week with the Arnold Palmer Invitational which has attracted an extremely strong field this year due to it becoming one of the PGA Tour’s elevated events. Once again we return to Bay Hill Club & Lounge, a 7,381 yard par 72 which has hosted the event since 1979. The field this week includes world number one Jon Rahm, the defending champion Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and many more. The Players Championship (the 5th major) is next week so all the top players will want to get dialled in before they tee it up at TPC Sawgrass. Last year at Bay Hill the course played really tough all week. Scottie Scheffler shot a level par 72 on the final day to win by a shot over Horschel, Hatton and Hovland. This was Scottie’s second PGA Tour victory. Of the top-10 finishers, only three players managed to shoot under par on the final day proving how hard it played.

‘Arnie’s tournament’ does seem to have a major feel about it, especially with the emotion attached to it since the great man’s passing over six years ago. The Arnold Palmer Invitational is definitely a tournament any top player wants to add to their CV. Interesting to know that only Matt Every when defending and Marc Leishman have won this event when ranked outside the top 50 in the World Rankings, going back to 2006. Also worth noting that eight of the last twelve champions had posted a top 5 finish previously.

Key Stats Analysis

Looking back at the previous events over the years, only Molinari of the last five winners ranked outside the top-15 for SG: Approach, Scheffler ranked 1st and Tyrrell Hatton ranked 2nd. A true ball striking test awaits the players this week. Every winner of the last five events here has ranked inside the top-13 T2G, Bryson DeChambeau ranked 2nd and Hatton ranked 5th. Four of the last seven winners ranked inside the top six for putting too, with Rory ranking 1st in this statistic. Approach shots from 175-200 yards this week are key. Hit greens and make putts, sounds simple right?

Will Zalatoris 28/1

My main man this week is the injury free world number seven Will Zalatoris. He shrugged off any injury worries with his solo 4th place finish in the Genesis Invitational last time out where he gained strokes in every part of his game. He ranked inside the top-10 for SG: Approach, OTT and T2G that week, he seems ready to contend again at a course that should suit. His previous two starts here have yielded a T10 and a mid pack T38, he hit the ball very well on both occasions but just couldn’t get a putt to drop. As I have mentioned in my key stats paragraph, it’s vital that the players have their T2G game in great condition this week and Zalatoris ranks 4th for T2G over the last 12 months, constantly hitting the ball to a very high standard. His approach statistics from 175-200 yards are very positive and I expect the money to come for Zal this week, he’s my best bet of the event at 28/1.

Tyrrell Hatton 35/1

Second name on my team sheet this week is course specialist and previous winner of this event Tyrrell Hatton. Let’s go through the course form first of all, Hatton has made six starts at Bay Hill, winning once, finishing 2nd and 4th, and then on the other three occasions he made the cut each time. Not to mention his recent form too, in his last six starts worldwide he has been inside the top-7 three times including a runner-up finish at the DP World Tour Championship. Hatton really impressed me at TPC Scottsdale three weeks ago where he ranked inside the top-4 for approach and T2G at an event he had only played at once before. He clearly likes putting on these greens at Bay Hill too, ranking inside the top-15 for SG: Putting on four of his six starts. His price is probably about right and I rate him a solid each-way bet.

Tommy Fleetwood 75/1

I was very tempted by Jason Day this week with his immediate return to form this year but instead I’ll opt for another Englishman at a much bigger price in Tommy Fleetwood. Fleetwood simply just has to be in my staking plan after his really encouraging top-20 finish at Riviera where he gained strokes in every key statistic. Tommy broke his three year win drought in November at the Nedbank and then proceeded to finish fifth the week after in the DP World Tour finale gaining two-and-a-half strokes with his irons. The Arnold Palmer Invitational has been likened to a US Open style test and Fleetwood does have a 4th and a 2nd in previous US Opens which makes his case this week that bit stronger. Along with his three top-10 finishes at Bay Hill including a third place finish in 2019, I really like the chances of Fleetwood contending again on the PGA Tour and this could be his week.

Keegan Bradley 90/1

Next up is a player who is really starting to cement himself in the world’s top-30 again after a run of really impressive form. Just quickly going over his form in 2022, he won the ZOZO Championship in October and also managed a series of top-10s at really strong events. These include a fifth at The Players Championship, a second at the Wells Fargo and a T7 at the US Open. Each event requires solid iron play and it’s these tournaments where Keegan tends to excel. This can be backed up again recently with his runner up finish in the Farmers where he lost out to an in-form Max Homa. Bradley has played the API eleven times and only missed the cut once, he is also able to boast three top-10s and a runner up finish. He is a solid all round player and I think he can go well at a juicy price this week.

Tom Hoge 110/1

Last but not least is the ever improving 33-year-old Tom Hoge who has gained strokes on approach in nearly every event since the start of 2022. He ranks 1st on SG: Approach amongst players in this week’s field over the last 50 rounds played. His course form at Bay Hill is rather average it must be said - four starts here, one missed cut and a best finish of T15 - but I think he is a different player now and can go better here than he has done previously. Last time out in the Genesis, Hoge finished T14 where he putted really well, if he can match his usually strong iron play up with a hot putter then I can see him challenging come the weekend. He rounds off my selections this week, anything 90/1 and above is certainly worth an each way punt.

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