After a one-week break for most of the top golfers on the PGA Tour, another elite field heads to Orlando, Florida, for the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational, which is typically one of the most prestigious non-majors on the PGA Tour schedule.
That’s no different this year, especially since it’s an annual “designated event” on the tour. That means a $20 million purse and also 550 FedEx Cup points for the winner—50 points more than the standard 500 awarded to a typical tournament champ. The winner also receives a three-year exemption on the PGA Tour instead of the standard two.
The event takes place at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, a course owned by Arnold Palmer, who hosted this event until his death in 2016. This tournament dates back to 1966 when it was called the Florida Citrus Open Invitational. Even though he’s not playing in it this year, Tiger Woods has dominated this tournament. He’s won this event eight times, which ties the PGA Tour record for most wins at a single event with Sam Snead (Greater Greensboro Open) and himself at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.
Scottie Scheffler is the defending champion. He’s 1-for-1 in title defenses, as he won the WM Phoenix Open for the second consecutive year three weeks ago. In 2022, this was the second of four victories for Scheffler between the WMPO and the Masters.
The course at Bay Hill opened in 1961 but was gradually redesigned by Palmer over the years. The course stands at 7,466 yards and is a par-72 track. The rough is overseeded and tall, so both distance and accuracy are needed here.
The par-4 18th is 461 yards and requires an excellent tee shot in order to reach the green in two. The green bends to the right around water, so a short shot will get wet, and a long shot will find a waste bunker.
This is one of the more dramatic holes on the PGA Tour, as Tiger Woods birdied this hole to win the tournament by one stroke three times, and Robert Gamez famously holed out an eagle here in 1990 to win by a shot over Greg Norman in one of the most clutch shots in golf history.
Payne Stewart holds the course record with a 20-under 264 when par was 71. Last year, Scheffler’s winning score was a 5-under 283.
The top-three golfers in the world will face off for the third time in four weeks. In the first two meetings, Jon Rahm (+800) and Scottie Scheffler (+1100) each have a win, while Rory McIlroy (+1000) looks for his first PGA Tour win of 2023.
Rahm has won three of his five PGA starts this calendar year and has two more DP World Tour wins dating back to last October. The two non-wins in 2023 were a third and a seventh. His latest win at The Genesis Invitational two weeks ago allowed him to reach the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Just about everywhere you look, Rahm is dominating this season: first in Shots Gained: Total, Greens in Regulation Percentage, and Birdie Average, and second in Putting Average. The one minus against him is he only has one appearance at Bay Hill, which was a 17th in 2022.
Scheffler is currently on pace to match his stellar start to 2022, as he has a win among all top-12 finishes in his four starts so far. He wasn’t intimidated in defending his championship at TPC Scottsdale, and don’t expect it to be the case here either. He placed 15th here in his debut in 2021 before winning last year.
McIlroy is in a slump by his lofty standards, finishing outside the top 25 at both TPC Scottsdale and Riviera. Expect that to change this week in Orlando since McIlroy has finished worse than 13th just once in eight trips to Bay Hill. The 2018 champion of this event had a string of five-straight top 10s broken last year with a 13th-place effort.
Is one of many golfers at that number. He was emotionally drained after being unable to chase Rahm down at Riviera two weeks ago, but he comes to Bay Hill with three-straight top 25s to his credit. Expect him to be focused after the week off.
Zalatoris has had some strong Sunday finishes as of late, shooting a 63 at Pebble Beach and a 64 to charge to fourth at Riviera two weeks ago. He was 10th here in 2021.
Hovland tied for runner-up here last year; Day is putting up strong finishes with regularity this year, and Bay Hill could be a location for a breakthrough and a return to the trophy presentation. The 2016 champ here comes in with three top-10 finishes in a row and has been in the top 25 in eight of his nine starts this season.
Given the strength at the top of the field, there is plenty of value underneath. Tyrrell Hatton is virtually automatic at Bay Hill and can be had at +4100. The Englishman is 6-for-6 at Bay Hill, including a win in 2020, a runner-up last year, and fourth in 2017. Hatton’s form is solid as well, coming in sixth at the WM Phoenix Open three weeks ago.
Won for the first time in nearly eight years at The Honda Classic last week. While the field is certainly more difficult in Orlando, he could be up for the challenge. Even though he missed the cut at TPC Scottsdale, his other two starts in 2023 (Sony Open in Hawaii and The American Express) resulted in third-place finishes. He also comes to Bay Hill having finished in the top 10 here the past two years and a finish no worse than 15th since 2018.
It’s tough to bet against Scheffler for the repeat since he already showed he can defend a championship. It feels like a surer bet based on Rahm starting here just once and McIlroy struggling a bit for the first time in a year.
We like former winners Day and Hatton along with Zalatoris to put together a solid four rounds.
Here are the latest odds from JazzSports for the PGA Tour’s 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
|GOLFER||ODDS TO WIN THE 2023 ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL|
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