This weekend’s PGA golf action comes from Florida with the 57th Arnold Palmer Invitational. Albeit, it’s the 44th under the Arnold Palmer name. The event this year has its largest ever pot of $20m, increased from $12m last year.
The 72-par, 7,466 yard event has a smaller field of 120 compared to most PGA Tour events which usually have fields of either 144 or 156. Paddy Power is paying out on 10 places here, make sure to make your pick each-way, so let’s have a look at who should be in the reckoning come Sunday night.
Arnold Palmer Invitational
TV: Sky Sports Golf (Thursday – Sunday)
Currently third in the World Rankings, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy began 2023 with a win on the European Tour beating Patrick Reed by a shot at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic. No stranger to the Arnold Palmer, McIlroy won here in 2018 with a massive -18 on his scorecard. In the history of the event only three years saw lower scores.
He ended 2022 with a win at the CJ Cup in South Carolina before coming fourth in the DP World Championship back in Europe. The highlight of his 2022 being his victory at the FedEx Cup which saw him pocketing a juicy $18m as top dog.
Last year with all the LIV shenanigans he was a little, let’s say, distracted but as we can see still won plenty of important events and played some great golf. He’s looking now to get back to his best and with one win already under his belt this year he’s going to be eager to get back up the World Ranking above both Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm.
It’s worth mentioning too that he’s due to tee off with Max Homa and Tyrrell Hatton, more on him below, on Thursday so from the get-go we should be in for an eventful few days following Rory’s progress.
Scottie Scheffler walked away with the $2.16m winners share last year, beating Viktor Hovland, Billy Horschel and Tyrrell Hatton by a single shot in what was his second PGA win of a whirlwind season that saw him winning five PGA Tour events, including of course, the Masters in Augusta last April.
He has started this season in strong form again, winning the WM Phoenix Open in mid-February, the same event that kicked off his incredible season last year. The New Jersey native followed this up with a tied 12th finish at The Genesis Invitational, shooting in a respectable -8. While he did trail off towards the end of last season following that huge win at Augusta he’s hitting form again and should be in the reckoning here towards the business end.
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England’s Tyrrell Hatton has to get a mention here. A winner of six events on the European tour over his career he’s also won here at Bay Hill over recent seasons. In 2020 he walked away with $1.67m beating Australia’s Marc Leishman by a single stroke on the final day. He was also one of the tied runners-up here last year when Scheffler won.
He has started 2023 in decent enough form with his best finishes being tied 6th and 7th finishes at -11 and -13 respectively at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the Phoenix Open. We can certainly see him pulling off something the same here and his price represents some great value for a player in good shape and one with an impressive record in Orlando.
Billy Horschel is our long-shot here. His results haven’t been the greatest it must be said so far in 2023, finishing a tied 42nd and 32nd in the Honda Classic and the Phoenix Open and failing to make the cut at both the Genesis Invitational and the Hawaii Open. However, he’s a seven-time PGA Tour winner and was one of the three players tied for second place last year.
Last season he had a pretty good year, collecting five top-10 finishes and won at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio in June. He’ll be eager to do better than he’s done so far this season here and when he can quieten the negativity in his head and really focus on his golf he can give anyone a run. We reckon his price will crash down should he make a decent start so there’s plenty of value to be had here.
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