Golf specialist Rob Taylor (@RobTaylorSport) previews the Honda Classic and provides us with his best bets for this week’s event.

  • 2019 Profit & Loss: -2.5 pts

2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational Betting Preview, Odds & Tips

  • Date: Thursday 7th March – Sunday 10th
  • Venue: Bay Hill Country Club, Windermere, Florida
  • Channel: Sky Sports Golf

Main Preview

The Florida swing kicked off in earnest at PGA National last week, with 250/1 outsider, Keith Mitchell surprising all, by claiming his first PGA Tour title ahead of the chasing Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler.

It was a disappointing week for all of my picks, who just never got going. However, if there’s one I’ve learnt whilst doing this, it’s that you shouldn’t be too quick to discard a player from your thoughts. There’s nothing worse than “weekafteritus”, so if the course, stats, form, price and instinct still fit, then why not go again. That will certainly be the sentiment this week, with some familiar names on my team, as we move to Bay Hill and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The build up to Augusta continues with defending champion Rory McIlroy leading the field, ahead of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day. Disappointingly 8 time champion Tiger Woods has pulled out with a sore neck.

Recent winners include; Rory McIlroy -18, Marc Leishman -11, Jason Day -17 and Matt Every (twice) -19 and -13.

Key Stats & Facts

Bay Hill, or Arnie’s place as it’s affectionately known, is synonymous with the great man. Home here since 1979, it is one of the most popular events on the calendar, and always has a major feel to it.

Tiger has won here 8 times and it’s clearly a setup that appeals to certain players, with many having multiple top 10 or top 20 finishes here.  This classical Florida layout is a 7,419 yard par 72, with large Bermuda greens and is a true test of all facets of the player’s game.

With its long par 3’s and tough par 4’s, scoring well on the par 5’s is a must this week. Players will be hitting approaches in on a number of holes from over 200 yards, so a strong long iron game from the fairways will be key to success.  A preference for putting on these big Bermuda greens also bodes well.

So we are looking for players that have had success here at Bay Hill, whose long game is in great nick and that enjoy putting on this type of surface.

Betting Odds – the top 10 in the market (Bet365)

  • Rory Mcilroy 7/1
  • Justin Rose 10/1
  • Brooks Koepka 11/1
  • Rickie Fowler 12/1
  • Jason Day 14/1
  • Bryson DeChambeau 16/1
  • Marc Leishman 28/1
  • Hideki Matsuyama 28/1
  • Tommy Fleetwood 33/1
  • Francesco Molinari 35/1

The Verdict

With Augusta looming, many of the top players in the world are starting to turn it on. Rory and Justin rightly top the market here, but it’s one of the other market leaders who gets my attention this week, along with a team from the midfield who I think are all primed for good things.

As I stated earlier, it’s important not to let one poor performance sway your thinking. We are here for the long game, so the strategy for my picks remains. Players with a strong long game, who score well on par 5s and have positive Bay Hill experience all appeal, so on that basis, my team is as follows;

Jason Day 14/1:  I’ve already backed Day for the Masters (28/1) and strongly fancy him this week at Bay Hill. Winner here in 2016, the Australian has kicked off his 2019 season in good form. 5th at the Farmers and 4th at Pebble Beach in his last two starts, he’ll surely be revelling in the switch to Florida and a return to his preferred Bermuda Green surfaces, on which he has won 4 of his PGA tour titles.  Day loves to attack par 5s, so if he can combine his impressive form off the tee and on the greens, with an improved approach game, he’ll surely contend this week.

Marc Leishman 28/1:  As readers of my preview surely know by now, I’m a big fan of Leishman. Despite a very poor showing last time out in Mexico, his other recent form, stats in key areas and record here at Bay Hill make him an attractive each way selection this week. He has 4 top 10’s in his last 6 tournaments; he won here at Bay Hill in 2017, as well as securing 7th place last year.

In key stats he is; 12th in strokes gained approach, 12th in par 5 scoring, 26th in par 5 performances, 30th in approach from over 200 yards and 20th in par 5 birdie or better. An impressive set of all round numbers which makes it impossible for me to leave him out.

Hideki Matsuyama 28/1: Matsuyama is another player who I have picked recently and I have to say I’m slightly surprised by his price. His return to form continued in Mexico last time out with a decent enough 19th place, after finishing in the top 15 at his last three tournaments.

His 6th place here in 2016 remains his best showing at Bay Hill, but it’s his approach game that is really appealing right now, 3rd in strokes gained tee to green, 5th in strokes gained approach and 37th in approach from over 200 yards plus. Match this with his continually impressive scrambling stats and the signs are all there that he can bring it together this week.

Tommy Fleetwood 33/1: Fleetwood’s all round game just seems perfectly suited to Bay Hill. His long game is in fantastic shape right now, ranking 4th in approach from over 200 yards plus. He also ranks 15th in scrambling.

With a 10th place finish here in 2017 and 26th last year, Fleetwood can certainly challenge this week, if he can just eliminate that one bad round. He recently finished 19th in Mexico, having started very promisingly and seems to be bedding into life on the PGA Tour now.

Francesco Molinari: 35/1:  The Open champion had a well-deserved rest at the end of the year, but he dusted cobwebs off with a nice 17th place finish in Mexico two weeks ago and looks set to kick start his season with a strong showing at Bay Hill. His record here is very impressive, with three top 10s in his last 5 starts.  The Italian seems to be flying under the radar a little bit this week and I’m happy to be on board. His strong iron play was a major factor in his success in 2018, and if he can continue that into this season, he may well figure at the top of the leader board come Sunday evening.

Recommended Bets

  • 2pts Each Way – Jason Day @ 14/1 (Various)
  • 1pt Each Way – Hideki Matsuyama @ 28/1 (Various)
  • 1pt Each Way – Marc Leishman @ 28/1 (Various)
  • 1pt Each Way – Tommy Fleetwood @ 33/1 (Various)
  • 1pt Each Way – Francesco Molinari @ 35/1 (Various)