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BlogArnold Palmer Preview and Picks

Arnold Palmer Invitational

March 16th – 19th, 2017

Bay Hill Club

Orlando, FL

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,419

Purse: $6.3 million

with $1,134,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Jason Day

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 52 of the top 100 and 28 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with five players from the top-ten: #2 Jason Day, #3 Rory McIlroy, #4 Hideki Matsuyama, #5 Henrik Stenson and #9 Rickie Fowler. The other top 50 players are #11 Alex Noren, #13 Justin Rose, #15 Paul Casey, #16 Tyrrell Hatton, #17 Bubba Watson, #19 Branden Grace, #23 Brooks Koepka, #24 Brandt Snedeker, #27 Charl Schwartzel, #28 Louis Oosthuizen, #29 Thomas Pieters, #30 Matthew Fitzpatrick, #32 Emiliano Grillo, #33 Francesco Molinari, #35 Tommy Fleetwood, #36 Ryan Moore, #40 Kevin Chappell, #42 Zach Johnson, #44 Martin Kaymer, #45 Jeunghun Wang, #46 Kevin Kisner, #47 Kevin Na and #48 Byeong Hun An.

Last year 26 of the top 50 players were in the field

The field includes 16 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2017.  Those players are # 1 Hideki Matsuyama, # 5 Pat Perez, # 7 Adam Hadwin, # 10 Rickie Fowler, # 11 Mackenzie Hughes, # 12 Charles Howell III, # 13 Hudson Swafford, # 14 Rod Pampling, # 15 Justin Rose, # 16 Cody Gribble, # 18 Webb Simpson, # 20 Keegan Bradley, # 22 Luke List, #23 Francesco Molinari, #24 Tony Finau and # 25 Martin Laird.

The field includes 14 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list.  Those players are # 1 Hideki Matsuyama, # 4 Adam Hadwin, # 6 Pat Perez, # 10 Rickie Fowler, # 11 Mackenzie Hughes, # 12 Charles Howell III, # 13 Rod Pampling, # 14 Hudson Swafford, # 15 Justin Rose, # 17 Cody Gribble, # 19 Webb Simpson, # 23 Keegan Bradley, # 24 Martin Laird and # 25 Luke List.

The field includes 9 past champions: Jason Day (2016), Matt Every (2015 & ’14), Martin Laird (2011), Ernie Els (2010 & 1998), Vijay Singh (2007), Rod Pampling (2006), Chad Campbell (2004), Tim Herron (1999) and Robert Gamez (1990).

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.

Invitation to join our GOLFstats/DraftKings Fantasy Game.

If your a member and play DraftKings games, we now have a weekly game.  

Here is the invitation to join our game:

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 4.34.55 PM

                                                                           Hit this link to join our DraftKings Fantasy golf game

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 Mexico Honda Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Phoenix Open Dubai Farmers Qatar CareerBuilder Abu Dhabi Sony Open SBS T. of Champions
Rickie Fowler
(234.33 pts)
DNP T16
(51)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP DNP
Tyrrell Hatton
(212.33 pts)
DNP 10
(60)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP DNP
Adam Hadwin
(209.33 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP T34
(10.67)
T39
(7.33)
T12
(25.33)
DNP T49
(0.67)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Tommy Fleetwood
(184 pts)
DNP 2
(150)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP
Wesley Bryan
(180.33 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP T4
(80)
T4
(53.33)
DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Thomas Pieters
(176.33 pts)
DNP T5
(105)
CUT
(-10)
T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP T23
(18)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Hideki Matsuyama
(171.17 pts)
DNP T25
(37.5)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP T33
(11.33)
DNP DNP DNP T27
(7.67)
2
(33.33)
Brandt Snedeker
(167.83 pts)
DNP T7
(82.5)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
4
(53.33)
DNP DNP T9
(30)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T14
(12)
Martin Kaymer
(165.83 pts)
DNP T23
(40.5)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(18)
DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Justin Rose
(165.33 pts)
DNP T38
(18)
DNP T4
(53.33)
T39
(7.33)
DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP
Tony Finau
(153 pts)
5
(70)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T23
(18)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP T20
(10)
T9
(15)
Pat Perez
(136.67 pts)
DNP T38
(18)
DNP T28
(14.67)
T14
(24)
WD
(-3.33)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP T69
(0)
T3
(30)
Henrik Stenson
(130.83 pts)
T7
(55)
WD
(-7.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP DNP
Kevin Kisner
(122.17 pts)
DNP 11
(58.5)
T48
(2)
DNP T10
(26.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP
Charles Howell III
(120.33 pts)
T49
(1)
DNP T52
(0)
T15
(23.33)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP
Jim Herman
(119 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP T27
(23)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 10
(13.33)
T12
(12.67)
Graham Delaet
(116.67 pts)
T22
(28)
DNP 10
(40)
T17
(22)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Francesco Molinari
(111 pts)
DNP T20
(45)
T14
(36)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(24)
DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Paul Casey
(108.67 pts)
DNP T16
(51)
T11
(39)
T39
(7.33)
DNP DNP DNP T28
(14.67)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Graeme McDowell
(104 pts)
T14
(36)
DNP T14
(36)
67
(0)
DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Louis Oosthuizen
(98 pts)
DNP T48
(3)
T21
(29)
DNP DNP 3
(60)
DNP T41
(6)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(94.33 pts)
DNP T16
(51)
68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
J.J. Spaun
(92.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T21
(29)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T4
(53.33)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Morgan Hoffmann
(92.67 pts)
T52
(0)
DNP T2
(100)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
T36
(9.33)
DNP T77
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Webb Simpson
(88.67 pts)
T41
(9)
DNP DNP T39
(7.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP T66
(0)
DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP
Ryan Moore
(88.33 pts)
T18
(32)
T28
(33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(30)
Lucas Glover
(84.67 pts)
T18
(32)
DNP T21
(29)
DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
DNP T33
(11.33)
DNP T41
(3)
DNP DNP DNP
Russell Henley
(83.67 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP T43
(7)
DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP
Rory McIlroy
(82.5 pts)
DNP T7
(82.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Stewart Cink
(82 pts)
T27
(23)
DNP T27
(23)
T28
(14.67)
T55
(0)
DNP DNP T20
(20)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Valspar WGC Mexico Honda Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Phoenix Open Dubai Farmers Qatar CareerBuilder Abu Dhabi Sony Open SBS T. of Champions
Steven Bowditch
(-46.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP
Matt Every
(-41.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP WD
(-5)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Smylie Kaufman
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T72
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Retief Goosen
(-33.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Greg Chalmers
(-32.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T57
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
28
(7.33)
Si Woo Kim
(-31.67 pts)
WD
(-5)
T72
(0)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP WD
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T91
(0)
T30
(6.67)
Harold Varner III
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T57
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T68
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Vijay Singh
(-23.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
DNP
Kyle Reifers
(-22.67 pts)
67
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Aaron Baddeley
(-21.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T75
(0)
DNP DNP T25
(8.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

The big news is the fact that the Florida swing has now been altered so much with the switch of Doral for Mexico, that it doesn’t hold the same importance it used to have.  With the death of Arnold Palmer, a lot of talk and concern about his tournament on his beloved Bay Hill course.  What used to be a must go to event is now one that many pros will miss.  The field is solid, but missing #1 Dustin Johnson, #6 Jordan Spieth, #7 Justin Thomas, #8 Adam Scott and #9 Sergio Garcia.  Things are so weird now that Johnson, Spieth and #18 and crowd pleasure Phil Mickelson didn’t play a single event in Florida.  Some will say the only real reason the field is as good is because nine of the players live in the Orlando area and a total of 30 players live in Florida.

Feelings are mixed on tour between those that love Bay Hill and don’t, one of the reasons more players aren’t in the field.  Many will say that it’s not right for many players to skip out from playing this year, the first since Palmer’s death.  But we have seen this before with the Byron Nelson event in Dallas, Texas.  For years the field was always good, despite the lack of player interest for the Four Seasons Resort club at Las Colinas.  But when Nelson died in 2006 attendance seriously slipped and now they have a tough time getting a marque field to play this event in Texas.

The biggest problem for the PGA Tour is it’s success, each week they have a great sponsor that spends a lot of money to put on a first class event.  Players are creatures of habit and with the old makeup of the Florida swing, in which for over 50 years they have had a stretch of four or more events in Florida.  But with the switch of the WGC-Mexico Championship away from Florida, it changed the whole focus of the Florida Swing.  It also hasn’t helped that the WGC Mexico, WGC Dell Match Play has also been put among the Florida events, with the Masters being played two weeks after the Match Play.  That is the biggest sin of the PGA Tour, too many must-go to events, Mexico, the Match Play and Masters in a six week window.

Lastly many didn’t realize it but Arnold Palmer had a very important role in this event.  The tournament and course had been his pride and joy for three decades since he bought it in the 70s.  Not only did Palmer ticker with the course each year to make it fresh, Palmer use to contact and write letters to players asking them to play.  Byron Nelson use to do that for his tournament and no matter what your thought about the course you weren’t going to say no to either Palmer or Nelson.  Down to the point that when players didn’t play, like Bubba Watson a couple of years ago, they would come over and meet with Palmer to explain their reason for being absent.

So unfortunately even though each week has a great event with powerful sponsors, events like last week’s Valspar, the Nelson, Colonial, Travelers and the Canadian Open have felt the pain of being close to other events that marquee names have to play in, so it will be interesting how the Palmer will cope in the years to come.

Especially now with the PGA Tour thinking of moving the Players Championship back to March, it will be important for the Tour to figure out a way to bring back the luster of the Florida swing. along side great events like the WGC-Mexico Championship, WGC Dell Match Play and the Masters.  Tough task ahead for them.

Things you need to know about the Arnold Palmer Invitational

According to the PGA Tour, this will be the 52nd Arnold Palmer Invitational, which got its start in 1966 as the Florida Citrus Open.  But if you look around there is no big splash, you can’t find anywhere in any of the material that the tournament puts out anything raving about it’s 52nd anniversary.

There is a good reason for that.

If you asked Arnold Palmer, he only counted the years when the event moved to Bay Hill so this would be the 38th time this tournament has been played. 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 gave 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 38 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.
  • Last year Bay Hill was the 28th hardest course on the PGA Tour playing to a 71.48 average, which is a half a shot under par.  Great weather was the reason for the low scores with the lack of wind, you can see how hard the course has been over the years.
  • In 2015 Bay Hill was the 36th hardest course but in the previous years when there was wind, in 2014 was the 16th hardest course on Tour playing to a 72.473 average, a half a shot over par when it was windy all week.  So you can see the difference between 2014 and 2015 just about a shot and a half.
  • 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 since then until his death, Palmer would spend most of the winter in a condo behind the course.  Palmer loved to tinker with the course. Since Palmer left the Champions tour and had more time on his hands around 2000, he spent lots 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.  That didn’t last long a Palmer changed his mind again in 2010 and went back to a par 72.
  • Until about four years ago when he started slowing down, Palmer would always tinker with something on the course, making small changes here and there, but there hasn’t been any changes in five years now.  Despite Palmer not tinkering with the course anymore there is always one thing that is consisted each year and that is the rough which is very high and tough to get out of  and helps bring scores up each year.  One thing that we can see a bit of a trend on, scores were high with the winners between 2012 and 2014 at 13 under par, but the two years Matt Every won he was 13 under in 2014 and 19 under in 2015.  Last year Jason Day was 17 under..
  • Now Bay Hill did receive a face lift before last year’s event as all the greens on the course were re-grassed with Emerald Bermuda which did make the greens roll truer and faster.  The fairways and tees were also re-grassed with Celebration bermudagrass.  One last changed was when they closely mown areas around the green which meant chipping and scrambling was harder than past years.

 

Let’s take a look at key stats that are important for those playing at Bay Hill:

This is based on the most important stats for Bay Hill Course, based on data from last years Arnold Palmer Invitational, and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2017. What we do is take their rank for each stat and then add up the four catagories.
The scoring average of the field at Bay Hill in 2016 was 71.48, so with par being 72 that means the average score was a half a shot under par, making Bay Hill the 28th hardest course to score on in 2016 (only 22 courses played easier). It’s also important to see how the weather played a factor, last year’s weather was mostly cloudy with rain over the weekend. Winds blew 7-12mph on Thursday and Friday while it blew 10 -15 mph over the weekend. So with wind not playing much of a factor and soft conditions it’s the reason for the 2nd year in a row the course played under par. The previous four years it played over par in 2011 it was the 8th hardest on tour with a 73.20 average. So the course most times does play over par.

In looking at the stats for Bay Hill last year Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, Proximity to Hole and Rough Proximity are important. Last we pick putting inside ten feet because last year it was 37th hardest of the 37 courses that kept the stats so with 89.73% of the putts made more players made putts inside of ten feet than any other course ranked. So players are expected to make the putts

So how did the winner Jason Day become victorious last year? He played the par 5s in 10 under ranking T-5th which isn’t bad considering that he made two bogeys on them in the final round. He was T-1st in par breakers, but in our stats Day was 4th in Strokeds Gained Tee-to-Green, 58th in proximity to hole and T-25th in Rough Proximity. His strong suit was putting, he was 6th in Strokes Gained putting, 4th in One-Putt Percentage and 1st in 3-putt avoidance. As for putting inside ten feet, he ranked T-23rd and was 5th in putts from 4 to 8 feet.

*Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green: Stat is good barometer on overall play from drives to hitting into the greens. For years Bay Hill is always in the top-15, in 2010 it was T-4th. Last year it ranked T-19th.

*Proximity to Hole: Average length that a player hits from the pin with shots from the fairway, last year it was T-7th.

*Rough Proximity: Average length that a player hits from the pin with shots out of the rough. Showing how hard the rough is at Bay Hill it was the hardest course to get close to the hole from the rough, players were only able to average 51 feet, 2 inches on each shot from the rough, so it’s important to drive it well and keep it out of the rough.

*Putting inside ten feet: No matter how good your game is, you have to make these putts in order to win. Last year Bay Hill ranked the hardest of the 37 courses ranked so it’s a hard stat for players on this course.

Below is the average of positions on stats from 2017 PGA Tour statistics:

(be aware of the field of 120, 21 players have no stats for 2017 and aren’t included in this list.  As an example players not in this list are Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, Tyrrell Hatton, Jeughun Wang, Danny Willett and Matthew Fitzpatrick)

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

Here is the link to all the stats for all players in the Palmer field 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:

A Bay Hill stat:

It’s said that ball-striking is becoming a dinosaur on the PGA Tour, but that isn’t the case at Bay Hill in which hitting lots of greens is important. Between 1997 and 2008 there wasn’t a winner that didn’t finish in the top-20 of greens hit for the week.  In 2009 Tiger Woods changed that when he finished T50th, but since then five of the last six winners were in the top-20.

Here is a look at the winners of the Arnold Palmer Invitational that finished in the top-five in greens hit:

 

Year – Winner                 Greens hit – ranked                     Rank of field                      comparing # of those in top-ten finished

                                                                                   to other courses that year                  in top-ten in Greens hit

2016 – Jason Day             46 of 72 – T-29th                                  14th                                                      4

2015 – Matt Every               58 of 72 – 2nd                                    35th                                                      3

2014 – Matt Every               52 of 72 – T7th                                   23rd                                                      4

2013 – Tiger Woods          46 of 72 – T34th                                  16th                                                      3

2012 – Tiger Woods            57 of 72 – 1st                                     20th                                                      4

2011 – Martin Laird           49 of 72 – T20th                                  15th                                                      3

2010 – Ernie Els                 50 of 72 – T9th                                     9th                                                      5

2009 – Tiger Woods          39 of 72 – T50th                                    1st                                                      4

2008 – Tiger Woods          50 of 72 – T14th                                    17th                                                    6

2007 – Vijay Singh               52 of 72 – 2nd                                     10th                                                    6

other top winners in the top-five

2005 – Kenny Perry            57 of 72 – 1st                                       18th                                                     6

2003 – Tiger Woods            56 of 72 – 1st                                       12th                                                     5

2001 – Tiger Woods           51 of 72 – T5th                                       9th                                                      5

1997 – Phil Mickelson         61 of 72 – 1st                                        28th                                                     5

Another key stat:

Now it’s easy to point out how the winners have been in greens hit but what has the trend been for everyone in the field?  The trend is that more folks are hitting more greens.  In 2009 Bay Hill had the hardest greens to hit.  In a way wind helped, the weekend saw high winds with gust up to 30 mph, but only 55.02 of the greens were hit that year.  The next year it jumped to 61.25% and was ranked 9th and the number has stayed about the same with it’s ranking going up, in 2011 it ranked 15th on the PGA Tour.  In 2012 it climbed to 20th and then 16th in 2013.  In 2014 it ranked 23rd and more players hit more greens with the average going up again to 64.00%.  With the lack of wind and great weather 2015 was a banner year for the players as they hit 68.41% making it the 35th highest on the PGA Tour.  Last year it was the 14th hardest with a field average of 60.98, the least amount since 2009.

The one key stat that shows what it takes to win:

“Proximity to hole” is a stat that measures how close to the hole you hit it from the fairway.  The last five years before 2015 Bay Hill has ranked in the top-ten on the PGA Tour.  Last year it ranked T-7th, in 2015 it was ranked T-11th.  Since this is a shot-link stat that isn’t measured in the majors, you only find this in non-major courses.  The better the ranking means that it’s harder to get the ball close to the hole.  Last year players from the fairway got the ball to 37 feet, 1 inch ranking T-11th while in 2014 it was 37 feet, 8 inches of the hole, ranking 8th.  The year before it ranked 3rd as players averaged 38’8″.  So this means that getting the ball close is hard at Bay Hill.

Making Bay Hill even tougher is when players hit drives in the rough.  In looking at the stat “Rough Proximity”, over the last seven years it ranked 1st on tour last year with a 51 feet, 2 inch average.  In 2015 it was T-6th,  3rd in 2014, 1st in 2013, 6th in 2012, 3rd in 2011 and 2nd in 2010.  So what does this mean?  That the rough is really hard to deal with and that there is a penalty for hitting drives into the rough because it’s hard to get your ball close to the hole.  So in looking for a player that does well at Bay Hill you want to find one that not only hits lot’s of greens and close to the hole, but also players that can handle rough by getting the ball closer to the holes than others.  So here are the results of two key stats from 2017, first “Proximity to Hole” and then ‘Rough Proximity”

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

Only three weeks before the Masters, for many this is there last stroke play event 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, Dell Match Play or Houston.  The other way is to be in the top-50 of the world rankings after the Dell Match play.  For six players it’s going to be a wild scramble to make sure they are in the top-50 so that they get one of the last Masters invites.  Here are those on the bubble, #45 – Jeunghun Wang, #54 – Ross Fisher, #55 – Chris Wood, #58 Hideto Tanihara, #1 Thongchai Jaidee, #62 – Marc Leishman, #63 – Charles Howell III,  #66 – K.T. Kim and #67 Joost Luiten. Those not in the Palmer field are Fisher, Wood, Tanihara, Jaidee, Kim and Luitten.

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.  So how do we determine a player like this?  Look at the total driving stat which combines but distance rank and accuracy rank to help determine your winner.

Unimportant stat: In eight of the last 17 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, 12 of the winners either became first-time winners or had only won once before, just like Matt Every winning for the first time at Bay Hill in 2014 (then winning for a second time in 2015), 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 last year’s champion Jason Day, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Ben Crenshaw, Fred Couples, Tom Kite, Paul Azinger, Payne Stewart, Fuzzy Zoeller and  Tiger Woods.

Birdies and patience are 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, 30 live in Florida with 10 having ties in the Orlando area.

Weather has been pretty good the last couple of days in Florida and the forecast calls for that continuing.  Each day will be sunny and warm, with temperatures in the mid-70s and just a pinch of wind, worst day is suppose to be sunny as the winds will get up to 15 mph.

 

 

Who to watch for at the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Best Bets:

Henrik Stenson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T3 2 T5 T8 T15 T47 T52 T22

Has played well in his last five starts, he is 50 under par in those rounds and for the last four years only been over par once in 16 rounds. He will be the man to beat this week.

Rory McIlroy

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T27 T11

Showed at Mexico that his game has very little rust from resting his ribs from the injury. Course isn’t the best for him, but he is the type of player that can win on any course.

Justin Rose

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T9 CUT 2 T15 T3 CUT T30 T8 68

He is overdue for another win, this course is a bit like the Olympic course he won the Gold Medal on. His game has been sharp and he can do well at Bay Hill.

Best of the rest:

Hideki Matsuyama

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T6 T21

Coming to a course in which he has done well on, has been in a mini-slump look for him to break out this week.

Paul Casey

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T9 CUT T60 CUT T14

His game has been coming around slowly but should be ready to contend this week.

Brandt Snedeker

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T36 T13 T8 CUT T63 CUT T30 T17 T14 T22

Guy has been sneaky good in this event, should watch him.

Rickie Fowler

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T29 CUT T3 T30 T50

Be interested to see which player shows up to the first tee on Thursday, the Rickie Fowler who made the Honda look like an easy victory or the Rickie Fowler who still seems to struggle.

Solid contenders

Francesco Molinari

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T9 T17 T5 T34

His game has been very sharp and he does play well at Bay Hill.

Tyrrell Hatton

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Playing in this event for the first time, has been spotless with his play the last two months.

Wesley Bryan

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Another Palmer first-timer, just like with Hatton his game has been spotless as he has finished in the top-seven his last three starts.

Tommy Fleetwood

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Talking about another first-timer with a very good record of late.

Long shots that could come through:

Ian Poulter

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T46 T21 T20 T21 3 T12 CUT T48 CUT CUT

His game is still a work in progress but he plays well in Florida and he may take advantage in this Florida stop.

Thomas Pieters

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
76

Can he pull off the upset, his game off the tee hasn’t been very sharp but he has scored well of late so maybe he can win this week.

Jason Kokrak

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T20 T6 4 CUT

Has knocked on the door of this event in past years.

Among those many think will win but won’t this week

Jason Day

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
Win T17 T45 T25 WD CUT

Life has become a struggle of late, almost like Superman getting a dose of Kryptonian his game is not what it was like last year.

Zach Johnson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
5 T9 T43 T34 T11 T47 CUT 3 T54 T42 T43 T8

Has played very well in this event in the past, only problem his game is not ready for prime time right now.

Comments

  1. good article

  2. Jonathan S says:

    RIP Arnie

  3. Sal, what do you think of Mathew Fitzpatrick?

  4. He is a great talent over on the other side of the Atlantic, but frankly he needs to make his mark in America. Only has played in 19 PGA Tour events and of the 15 that have been played in America he only has one top-20 finish, T-7th in last year’s Masters. So I need for him to show me that he can play in America and win in America. So to make a long story short in answering your questions right now have very little faith with him playing in the United States. Needs a better track record.

  5. Chris, John Huggan wrote a very good feature on Mathew Fitzpatrick for all to read:
    http://www.golfdigest.com/story/the-maturation-of-matt-fitzpatrick

  6. patrick b says:

    what do you think about kevin na this week.

  7. I have mixed feelings on Na. He has played well at Bay Hill (didn’t play last year), T-6th in 2015, T-14th in 2014 and T-4th in 2012. Since he is a straight driver, the course favors his game. Now 2017 hasn’t been that great of a year for him. Maybe having a child the end of August has got his mind off his game, but he has had mixed results, but did finish T-4th at the Genesis Open. Since then was T-52nd at Mexico and missed the cut at Valspar, one of the courses that he should own. He is one of the shortest hitters on tour, but he has always been straight until this year, he ranks 158th in driving accuracy. Along with that he has struggled with his putter, he is 170th in putting from 4 to 8 feet and 191st in putting inside ten feet. So with all of that these numbers you can see why I was turned off on his game this week.

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