As the 2019 golfing calendar continues apace it promises to be another great week of action on both the PGA and European Tours.
The PGA Tour heads to Arnie’s place at Bay Hill in Orlando for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, whilst over on the European Tour it’s another stop out in the Middle East at The Qatar Masters.
Let’s first take a look at the API.
This will be the third playing of the event since the sad passing of the legend Arnold Palmer and a stellar field has once again assembled to honour the great man.
The course the players face is a par 72 of standard length with four Par 5s. All of the Par 5s are ‘getable’ here and Par 5 scoring averages have historically been a key performance guide when looking for clues.
With such a strong field on display, a big case can be made for any one of the leading players.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy, for example, arrives in outstanding form, however since winning here last year he has failed to convert numerous opportunities and whilst a win must be around the corner that inability to close of late is enough to put me off this week.
Other big names on display include 2016 champion Jason Day, Justin Rose, and last week’s joint runners-up, Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka. Anyone of these could naturally turn in a winning performance.
The one at the top end of the market I like most though is Bryson Dechambeau at 16/1.
Dechambeau has won five times worldwide since he was runner-up here last year and he ranks third on tour in par 5 scoring. Bryson was last seen using his putter as a form of gardening tool in Mexico a couple of weeks ago in an attempt to destroy the putting green in frustration.
Rightly chastised for this ‘The Scientist’ duly issued the obligatory social media apology and I expect him to bounce back to perform strongly this week.
Casting the net wider and I am drawn to the chances of former US Open Champion Lucas Glover at 45/1.
Glover has finished top 20 on seven of his eight starts this season and arrives here on the back of a fourth-place last week. He has played well here before and is fancied for another strong performance.
Another who catches the eye is Jason Kokrak (55/1). Like Glover, Kokrak is in great nick of late and has performed well here in the past.
Finally, for those looking for something more speculative two-time former API champion Matt Every (100/1) is in his most consistent patch of form for a long time, whilst Patrick Rodgers – also available at 100/1 – has picked up of late and was seventh here last year. Both offer the each-way value I’m looking for.
Over on the European Tour in Qatar, we only need take a look at a recent roll of honour, which includes Branden Grace, Sergio Garcia and Paul Lawrie to know that the host venue in Doha is a course that favours players who can produce the goods in windy conditions.
With many leading Europeans choosing to fine tune their game in Orlando this week in preparation for next weeks Players Championship at Sawgrass, the field has suffered here somewhat.
From a punting point of view though, this needn’t bother us and my eyes are drawn to a couple of players who performed well in tough winds in Oman last week.
Firstly, Englishman Jordan Smith (20/1). Smith has struggled with form and health issues since winning his maiden event on Tour in 2017.
Now seemingly getting back to his best, he returns to a course he finished sixth on a couple of years ago on the back of a strong 12th place in Oman. I expect a bold showing from him this week.
The second player who appeals is 29-year-old Ashley Chesters at 80/1. Yet to win on tour, Chesters first came to prominence when finishing 12th in the Open at St Andrews in 2015 whilst still an amateur.
Ashley played solidly here last year when in no sort of form and I can see him building on last week’s ninth in Oman and turning in another strong week here.
To win: Bryson Dechambeau 16/1.
Each-way chances: Lucas Glover 45/1, Jason Kokrak 55/1, Patrick Rodgers 100/1 and Matt Every 100/1.
To win: Jordan Smith 20/1.
Each-way chance: Ashley Chesters 80/1.
* All odds correct at time of posting.