Michael Owens/Getty Images. Pictured: Rickie Fowler.
The stage is set for the “designated” version of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
The event is sure to be packed with drama and excitement, as the world’s best players play at one of the PGA Tour’s most prestigious courses. The wind is sure to play a factor this week at Bay Hill, with gusts expected to get up to 30 mph throughout the week. It will be steadily around 8-12 mph throughout the week.
In the past six editions of the tournament, there have been eight first-round leaders or co-leaders. Of the eight, four have come from the morning wave, and four have come from the afternoon, so there may not be a huge edge with teeing off early.
Arnold Palmer Invitational FRL Picks
Rickie Fowler +6000
First-Round Tee Time: 12:39 p.m. ET
Rickie is back.
The fan-favorite has been absolutely fantastic with his irons, gaining 4.2, 6.3 and and 4.6 strokes on approach respectively in his past three starts. That’s his best three-tournament stretch in that category since March 2017. Back then, Fowler won the Honda Classic, then finished 16th, 12th and third in his next three starts.
Fowler has always loved playing in Florida. It’s been a while since he’s gotten deep into contention so while I like the outright price, the first-round-leader market may be more prudent.
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Gary Woodland +6500
First-Round Tee Time: 1:12 p.m. ET
Gary Woodland has been striping the ball this season. In his most recent start at the Genesis he gained a staggering 9.7 strokes on approach, finishing ninth.
Woodland seems to be getting into form at just the right time, as this is the spot where he’s been closest to returning to the winner’s circle over the past few years. Woodland got deep into contention at Bay Hill last year before a bad bunker shot down the stretch did him in.
I expect Woodland to come out of the gates firing to begin the 2023 API.