Arnold Palmer Invitational
Date: March 5th – 8th
Course: Bay Hill Club and Lodge
Purse: $9.3MM ($1.7MM to winner)
FedEx points: 500 to winner
OWGR points: 66
2019 Winner: Francesco Molinari (-12)
Bay Hill Club & Lodge. Built by Bob Simmons in 1961, it was Dick Wilson who actually designed the course. This 7,400 yard par 72 is a good mixture with some challenges to get from tee to green. The greens themselves are slightly elevated which stresses good approach shots. A few doglegs run around water with traps accurately placed around the pin on many greens. The Bermuda grass and length stress importance of good accurate Tee and Iron shots. The final three holes, much like Valspar will be a good test to the overall round
My Starting 4
Rory McIlroy (1st selection this year) — Here is your Jeopardy answer: This PGA Tour player has finished in the top 10 each of the last three years at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. In addition to that he is the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year and his current OWGR is 1. “Who is Rory McIlroy, Alex?” Ding ding ding.
Marc Leishman (2nd selection this year) — Last year Marc finished 23rd here and that was BY FAR the worst result he had over the last three years. He is quite comfortable at Bay Hill and it’s evident with his track record here. Once he has teed off, his irons, his approaches and his putter are all on point.
Max Homa (2nd selection this year) — Since February, he has not finished a tournament worse than 15th. There is a bit of risk as this will be his inauguration into this tournament and yet he has continued to surprise this season to date. He has created a good mix of solid drives with good putting (both top 50 on tour in strokes gained).
Tommy Fleetwood (2nd selection this year) — His last two PGA Tours have been solid – 18th place (WGC – Mexico Championship) and 3rd (The Honda Classic). He has finished in the top 30 each of the last three years at Bay Hill culminating in a 3rd place finish here last year. He also is one of the most consistent Florida golfers. He has an average of 13th place in Florida on the PGA Tour over the last three years.
My Bench 2
Luke List (1st selection this year) — Luke has two top 30 finishes in February as he comes into Arnold Palmer Invitational where he finished in the top 20 each of the last three seasons. There is some concern from his missed cut at the Honda Open last week, specifically his 73 on Friday. Furthermore, he has not rebounded strongly from missed cuts this season so hopefully this week has different results
Charles Howell III (3rd selection this year) — He has been in the top 15 each of the last two years here. In addition to that his average Florida finishes has gone from 52nd (2017) to 42nd (2018) to 25th (2019). His versatile play across all clubs helps him thrive here.
Fun Fact: As one of the 5 invitational tournaments on the tour (Genesis Open, RBC Heritage, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament) they are able to be more selective on who can participate in the 120 player field.
Starting 4: Avg finish 46th (34th percentile)
Bench 2: Avg finish 56th (41st percentile)