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BlogArnold Palmer Invitational Preview and Picks

Arnold Palmer Invitational

March 20 – 23, 2014

Bay Hill Club

Orlando, Fla.

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,419

Purse: $6.2 million

with $1,116,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Tiger Woods

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 20 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with four players from the top-ten: #2 Adam Scott, #3 Henrik Stenson, #6 Justin Rose and #10 Zach Johnson. The other top 50 players are #12 Bubba Watson, #15 Graeme McDowell, #19 Brandt Snedeker, #20 Partrick Reed, #27 Jamie Donaldson, #28 Keegan Bradley, #32 Hunter Mahan, #34 Ryan Moore, #36 Lee Westwood, #38 Harris English, #40 Rickie Fowler, #42 Gonzalo Fdez-Castano, #45 Billy Horschel, #47 Rusell Henley, #49 Chris Kirk and #50 Gary Woodland. (Tiger Woods withdrew on Tuesday).

The field includes 15 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2014.  Those players are #3 Patrick Reed, #4 Bubba Watson, #5 Harris English, #6 Chris Kirk, #8 Zach Johnson, #9 Ryan Moore, #14 John Senden, #15 Kevin Na, #16 Brian Stuard, #18 Gary Woodland, #19 Russell Henley, #20 Will MaccKenzie, #21 Charles Howell III, #22 Scott Stallings and #24 Chesson Hadley.

The field includes 17 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list.  Those players are #3 Patrick Reed, #4 Bubba Watson, #5 Harris English, #7 Ryan Moore #8 Chris Kirk, #10 Zach Johnson, #14 John Senden, #15 Kevin Na, #16 Gary Woodland, #17 Brian Stuard, #19 Russell Henley, #20 Will MaccKenzie, #21 Scott Stallings, #22 Charles Howell III, #23 Chesson Hadley, #24 Graeme McDowell  and #25 Chris Stroud.

The field includes 7 past champions:  Martin Laird (2011), Vijay Singh (2007), Rod Pampling (2006), Chad Campbell (2004), Tim Herron (1999), Paul Goydos (1996) and Robert Gamez (1990) – (Tiger Woods withdrew on Tuesday).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Arnold Palmer Invitational field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Player Valspar WGC Cadillac Puerto Rico Honda Classic WGC Accenture Northern Trust AT&T Pebble Phoenix Open Dubai Desert Farmers Qatar Masters Humana Abu Dhabi
Patrick Reed
(336 pts)
DNP Win
(198)
DNP T24
(26)
T17
(33)
DNP T13
(24.67)
T19
(10.33)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP
Bubba Watson
(325.33 pts)
DNP T2
(150)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
Win
(88)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP T23
(9)
DNP DNP DNP
Chesson Hadley
(207.33 pts)
T14
(36)
DNP Win
(132)
T24
(26)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T10
(26.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Will MacKenzie
(195.33 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP T52
(0)
T13
(24.67)
DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP
Hunter Mahan
(180.17 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
T52
(0)
6
(40)
T4
(26.67)
DNP T47
(1)
DNP DNP DNP
Graeme McDowell
(178.17 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP T46
(4)
T5
(70)
DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jamie Donaldson
(177 pts)
DNP T2
(150)
DNP T55
(0)
T33
(17)
DNP DNP DNP T20
(10)
DNP DNP DNP T56
(0)
George McNeill
(160.67 pts)
7
(55)
DNP T19
(31)
T12
(38)
DNP T6
(40)
T52
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Russell Knox
(159.33 pts)
T25
(25)
DNP DNP T2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T27
(15.33)
DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP
Kevin Na
(157.67 pts)
2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T4
(53.33)
T19
(10.33)
DNP DNP DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP
Harris English
(155.33 pts)
T38
(12)
T16
(51)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
T10
(26.67)
DNP 9
(15)
DNP DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP
John Senden
(150.67 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP T46
(4)
DNP T18
(21.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T69
(0)
DNP
Gary Woodland
(139.67 pts)
T8
(50)
T16
(51)
DNP DNP T33
(17)
DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP T38
(4)
DNP
Matt Every
(126 pts)
T8
(50)
DNP DNP T24
(26)
DNP T6
(40)
CUT
(-6.67)
T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP
Russell Henley
(123.17 pts)
DNP T47
(4.5)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T52
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
David Hearn
(122.67 pts)
T8
(50)
DNP T24
(26)
T6
(60)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Rickie Fowler
(117.33 pts)
DNP T44
(9)
DNP T24
(26)
3
(90)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP
Zach Johnson
(115 pts)
DNP T16
(51)
DNP T33
(17)
T33
(17)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(30)
DNP
Justin Rose
(110.33 pts)
T8
(50)
T34
(24)
DNP DNP T17
(33)
T45
(3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Robert Garrigus
(107.33 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T23
(18)
T27
(15.33)
T53
(0)
DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Cameron Tringale
(100.67 pts)
T25
(25)
DNP DNP T41
(9)
DNP T12
(25.33)
T13
(24.67)
T12
(12.67)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP T38
(4)
DNP
Keegan Bradley
(95.17 pts)
DNP T50
(1.5)
DNP T12
(38)
T33
(17)
T20
(20)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP
Chris Stroud
(90 pts)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
T12
(38)
DNP DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Pat Perez
(89 pts)
T44
(6)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 75
(0)
T7
(36.67)
11
(13)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP
Henrik Stenson
(85 pts)
DNP T16
(51)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP DNP T29
(7)
DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Player Valspar WGC Cadillac Puerto Rico Honda Classic WGC Accenture Northern Trust AT&T Pebble Phoenix Open Dubai Desert Farmers Qatar Masters Humana Abu Dhabi
Lucas Glover
(-43.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Briny Baird
(-33.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
WD
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
J.J. Henry
(-31.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DQ
(-5)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T40
(6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T82
(0)
DNP
Rod Perry
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Angel Cabrera
(-23.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Paul Goydos
(-23.33 pts)
T70
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Chad Campbell
(-20 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T69
(0)
DNP
D.A. Points
(-16.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T62
(0)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP DQ
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Vijay Singh
(-16.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T63
(0)
DNP T45
(3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
77
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Scott Brown
(-16 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP 64
(0)
T75
(0)
DNP T45
(3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Last year going into this event, of the 12 winners there were a lot of marquee names.  Tiger Woods had won twice, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker all won.  But this year, it’s a different story. Tiger and Phil haven’t broken into the top-15 on the PGA Tour.  We’ve had 18 events played and your marquee winners are Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson which are nice winners but not household names.  Sorry to say our list of champions include Jimmy Walker, Chris Kirk, Harris English, Patrick Reed, Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley and John Senden.  These are nice players that will do well two to five times a year but frankly they don’t do much for me.  For those that love fantasy golf it could be easier to pick the six winning Mega Millions numbers on Tuesday than pick the last four winners on the PGA Tour.  It would be a stretch to find someone who picked one of the last four winners, let alone all four.  Guess this is parity that people talk about, frankly golf is very boring without some marquee guys in contention.  I for one don’t like having to look at a field list every Monday afternoon and see if I could find the next surprise winner.  Tiger Woods may not be the kind of guy you would go out for dinner with but I love to see him at his peak.  The same with Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els, Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker to name a few.

I love to look at a leaderboard on Sunday morning and see a bunch of guys at the top that you know can win that afternoon.  Looking at a Varspar leaderboard on Sunday with names like Robert Garrigus, Kevin Na, John Senden and Scott Langley they don’t bode a sense of excitement for me to watch the action.  When my wife asked if I wanted to go shopping for some paint on Sunday afternoon I jumped at the lovely offer which took me away from watching the final round.  Yes I know it’s about playing great shots at the right time, Senden did chip in for birdie on 16, made a great putt for birdie at 17 to win but I just wonder when the next time we will ever see Senden with this chance of winning?  Guess that golf is becoming more like the St. Louis Cardinals and team that went to the World Series last year with a lot of players that weren’t marquee names.  I don’t know about you but it would be really great to see Adam Scott and Tiger Woods fight it out on Sunday afternoon at Bay Hill.  Sorry it’s just not going to happen, golf is in a terrible funk right now in which you have a better shot picking winners at Santa Anita racetrack on Sunday than at Bay Hill.

Talking about Tiger 

A lot of debate of if Woods should be playing this week.  It’s three weeks before the Masters and if Woods back is as bad as the grimace’s we saw at Doral he has no business playing at Bay Hill.  It seems that Tiger is a creature of habit, he loves his routine of playing at Doral and Bay Hill and really doesn’t want to go off and play at San Antonio or Houston.  I really feel bad for all my buddies with the Houston Golf Association.  I have know them for close to 20 years and since Tiger came on the scene they would give up their oldest born male just to have Tiger tee it up once in Houston.  I know there have been years in which accommodations were reserved and many thought it would be the year only to have Woods say no to them.  The point is, what if Tiger took the next two weeks off and really rested the back and teed it up in Houston to get ready for the Masters?  Here is a really sad stat about Tiger Woods.  Tell me in the last eight years how many tournaments he has played in for the first time?  Two, in 2012 at Greenbrier were he missed the cut and 2011 when he finished T30th at the Frys.Com Open.  Maybe that is Tiger’s problem, he needs to shake things up a bit and go play some events he has never been to before.  But again Tiger’s a creature of habit and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Postscript on this story:  Woods withdrew on Tuesday afternoon citing back spasms that haven’t subsided.  He also said it was too early to know about the Masters and felt badly that he couldn’t defend his Palmer title.  It just shows how really bad his back is and it may be a while before he gets healthy again.

Things you need to know about the Arnold Palmer Invitational:

According to the PGA Tour, this will be the 49th Arnold Palmer Invitational, which got its start in 1966 as the Florida Citrus Open.  But if you ask Arnold Palmer, he will tell you that this is the 36th Bay Hill Invitational.  The actual event did start in 1966 as the Florida Citrus Open and it was barely surviving when Arnold Palmer and his associates took over in 1978.  They breathed new life into the event by moving it to Bay Hill in 1979 and talking the elite of the PGA Tour to include Bay Hill onto their schedules.  In the 35 years since it changed to the Bay Hill Club, the tournament has elevated to a level that it’s considered one of the premier stops on tour, as voted by the players.

Course information:

  • Bay Hill Club & Lodge
  • Orlando, Fl.
  • 7,419 yards     Par 36-36–72
  • Course has a 73.9 rating and slope rating of 136 fron the championship tees. The course is part of a resort and is open to those that stay at the course and it’s members.
  • The average green size at Bay Hill is 6,500 square feet, which is a little over the average on the PGA Tour.  The course has 103 bunkers and water comes into play on nine of the 18 holes.
  • In 2013 the Bay Hill was the 12th hardest course on the PGA Tour playing to a 72.928 average playing .928 stroke over par.
  • The course was originally designed and built by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee in 1960.
  • It’s funny how Arnold Palmer got associated with it. In the early 1960s when Bay Hill was first opened, Palmer and Jack Nicklaus played an exhibition tournament at the course and the King was so attracted to Bay Hill that he got together a group of investors and leased the club with an option to buy it.  In January of 1976, the group bought the course and ever since Palmer spends most of the winter in a condo behind the course.  Palmer loves to tinker with the course. The last couple of years he has spent a lot of time making changes, probably the biggest coming in 2007 when he took the par 5, 4th and 16th holes and convert them into par 4s, thus reducing the par of the course to 70 but then changing his mind again in 2010 and going back to a par 72.
  • Each year the course has changes as Palmer loves tinkering with the course, this year there really isn’t anything of note.  But the rough is very high and scores could go up this week.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Arnold Palmer Invitational:

Key stat for the winner:

There has been a bit of controversy that ball-striking is becoming a dinosaur on the PGA Tour, but that isn’t the case this week.  Bay Hill is a ball striking haven in which hitting lots of greens is important.  Since 1997 there has been no winner that has been over 20th in greens hit for the week, until 2009 when Tiger Woods was T50th in greens hit.  Before that four of the winners including last year’s winner Tiger Woods led the category (also number one was Mickelson, 1997, Tiger in 2003 & Kenny Perry in 2005.  2007 champion, Vijay Singh, was second in greens hit. in 2010 Els was T9th in greens hit, Martin Laird was T20th in 2011, Woods was T1st in 2012 and T34th last year.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • Only three weeks before the Masters, for many this is there last go before the Masters.  Right now the Masters field is just about set, for those not in the field they will have to either win at Bay Hill, Valero and Houston.  The other way is to be in the top-50 of the world rankings after the Valero Texas Open.  For six players it’s going to be a wild scramble to make sure they are in the top-50.  Here are those on the bubble, #52 – Richard Sterne, 56 – George Coetzee, 59 – Chesson Hadley, 62 – Pablo Larrazabal, 63 – Ryan Palmer and 64 – Mikko Ilonen as Hadley is the only one playing this week.
  • Kenny Perry had a perfect combination of being ranked fourth in both driving distance and accuracy in 2005.  Look for accuracy to once again prevail and look for another player like Perry that combines straight driving with a bit of length.
  • Unimportant stat: In eight of the last 14 years Tiger Woods has been the winner. So what does that mean?  In many tournaments, experience seems to be important, but not at Bay Hill.   Since 1979, 11 of the winners either became first-time winners or had only won once before, just like Martin Laird in 2011, Rod Pampling in 2006 and Chad Campbell in 2004.  But on the other side of the coin, the tournament has had some great players winning like Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Ben Crenshaw, Fred Couples, Tom Kite, Paul Azinger, Payne Stewart, Fuzzy Zoeller and  Tiger Woods.
  • In the past, players that drove it long never seemed to win, but that trend has changed.  Just look at the last 13 winners: Phil Mickelson in ’97, Ernie Els in ’98, Tim Herron in ’99 and Tiger in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012 & 2013. Chad Campbell in 2004, Vijay Singh in 2007 and Ernie again in 2010. They all can hit the ball a long way.
  • Birdies. Patience is important at Bay Hill. On most courses the norm is making lots of birdies to keep pace, but at Bay Hill pars are just as important.
  • One thing for certain is that the odds are quite good that the winner will be from either Florida and the Orlando area.  Of the 120 in the field this week, 27 live in Florida with 13 having ties in the Orlando area.
  • Do we think that Tiger has a shot to win a ninth Bay Hill?  Probably not there are way too many things going against Woods this week and don’t even think he can finish in the top-20.
  • Weather was terrible on Monday and lot’s of rain on Tuesday, which will soften up the course.  But come Wednesday it’s going to be perfect for the tournament with temperatures in the 83 degree range and wind under 7 mph.  So it will be a perfect week for scoring, but with the rough being high before the heavy rains, the rough may be impossible.  Accuracy could be important this week.

Who to watch for at the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Best Bets:

Bubba Watson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T14 T4 T24 CUT CUT T8 CUT T34

In his last four starts in the last seven weeks has won, finished T2nd twice and T9th at the Match Play. He has played good last couple of years at Bay Hill including a T4th in 2012 so he is our favorite.

Justin Rose

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
2 T15 T3 CUT T30 T8 68 T24 T56

He may be ready to reenter the winner circle, played well in Valspar but more importantly his shoulder isn’t a problem and he is going close to 100%. Still think he will be great at the Masters, could get off to a great start this week.

Graeme McDowell

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T45 2 CUT CUT T40 T2

Still think that he is going to have 72 great holes and win, he is that close. Finished 2nd in this event in 2012 so it could be a good time for him.

Best of the rest:

Will MacKenzie

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T44 CUT

Last two starts was T4th at Valspar and T6th at Honda, this boy could continue the streak of freaky winners that we have seen the last three weeks.

Zach Johnson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T34 T11 T47 CUT 3 T54 T42 T43 T8 T6

Have to think that his game will start coming around, did finished 3rd in this event in 2009.

Kevin Na

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T4 T30 T2 T11 CUT CUT

Don’t think he will go away this week, he finished T4th at Bay Hill in 2012 and T2nd in 2010, I would watch him.

Adam Scott

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT CUT T30 T3 T25

Gosh, making a rare appearance. With all of the time off you would think this guy would be sharp and ready to go each week. Did finish T3rd at Bay Hill but it was a decade ago.

Solid contenders

Gary Woodland

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T27 T48 CUT

Could be a good pick, game is starting to come around.

Pat Perez

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T50 CUT T38 T40 T4 T31 T28 T34 T44 T10 T9

Has played great this year, did play well in this event including a T4th.

Patrick Reed

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT

Have to mention him just because of his great win at Doral, could he do it again maybe, but he is getting a lot more respect from us these days.

Keegan Bradley

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T3 CUT

Still not playing consistently but with the weather getting warmer his game will get better.

Long shots that could come through:

Jamie Donaldson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
First time playing in this event

Played great at Doral, that good play could carry over to this week, has never played in this event.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T3

Was T3rd last year, he’s not playing really well but not bad. Has finished strong in his last two starts which has stoked my interest.

William McGirt

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T8 T63 T38

Finished T8th last year, has shown some good moments this year.

We have to mention him but I don’t hold much hope for him:

Tiger Woods – Has since withdrew on Tuesday

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
Win Win T24 Win Win T22 T20 T23 T46 Win Win

We just don’t know if his back will still be a problem. Frankly his game is in a terrible shape, his putting and short game is inconsistent and I just can’t even give him the benefit of doubt thinking that the week off will improve his game. I really think he would be better off if he took this week off, not put any more strain on the back and possibly be good in time for the Masters.

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