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Arnold Palmer Invitational: Best Bets and Course Info

Another Signature Event is in store for PGA fans, as 69 golfers head to Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. This will be the 4th no-cut event in the past 10 weeks for the PGA. No matter what your stance on the matter is, LIV Golf has changed the sport forever. Even with the names of Arnold Palmer or The Players, these events will simply not be the same without ALL of the world’s best. With that being said, the Arnold Palmer does have the most exciting field in 2024 thus far.

Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler headline the stacked field of the best golfers the PGA has to offer. 2022 API Winner Scheffler is the betting favorite at +600, but I fully expect Rory McIlroy to have the most bets come Thursday. Rory’s course history is hard to ignore. He’s played this event the last 9 seasons, finishing with 1 win and 7 other Top 13 finishes. In 6 of those 9 tournaments, he has finished with the lowest-scoring round in at least 1 round. His world-class ball-striking and distance are the main reasons for his success, but a solid short game is also a must here at Bay Hill. Let’s take a closer look at what finding success at Bay Hill looks like.

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The Course: Bay Hill

Bay Hill stretches to about 7,400 yards, but plays even longer. The par 72 course typically plays 2 strokes over par, with a lot of that having to do with the difficult, lengthy rough. With distance being a factor, most golfers will use driver on all holes other than the 4 par 3s. This club selection will lead to more missed fairways, which is an absolute no-no at Bay Hill. Bay Hill has some of the most penalizing rough in the country.

With the added distance and difficulty from the rough, greens will be very hard to hit. Scrambling will be as important as ever. Historically, only 3 holes play under par (3 of the 4 par 5s). These golfers will be happy with par on just about every hole. The winning score will most likely be in the high single digits, so look out for guys that play a safe, consistent game. Four solid rounds of 70 should get the win at Bay Hill.

Best Bets: Arnold Palmer Invitational

Jordan Spieth (+2000)

Although he’s only played here twice, Bay Hill has been very kind to Jordan Spieth. He finished T4 while gaining strokes across the board in both 2021 and last year. This does not come as a surprise, as his game fits Bay Hill perfectly.

Firstly, distance is not a problem for Jordan Spieth. He is actually a better approach player the further he gets from the green, which will be a frequent occurrence this week. Additionally, Spieth ranks 2nd in the field in Putting and 3rd in both Around the Green and Scrambling. He is the all-around package.

20/1 is a very fair asking price for what you’re getting with Jordan Spieth. Not only one of the best ball-strikers in the field but also THE best short-game player. Even if one of these facets struggles this week, the rest of his game will make up for it. I will be shocked if Spieth is not in contention on Sunday, and at a much lower price than 20/1.

Keegan Bradley (+5000)

Playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational has been a guarantee for Keegan Bradley since he turned professional, mainly because of the overwhelming success he’s found here. Over the last 11 years, he has never missed the cut, has a runner-up finish, a T3, and 3 consecutive T11s or better coming into 2024.

Specifically looking at his most recent success here, it’s reassuring to see the success has not been dependent on one specific aspect of his game. He has consistently and confidently gained strokes across the board at Bay Hill. The only fraction of Bradley’s game that hasn’t been extremely consistent is his putting. However, he’s gained strokes putting the past 3 years at Bay Hill, so expect this trend to continue.

Keegan Bradley is certainly not the best golfer in this field, but I think he may go overlooked this week. His history and all-around game are hard to ignore, and at a price this high, I think he is a must bet. If Keegan can find at least some success with the putter, he will undoubtedly contend.

Luke List (+11000)

Here’s something I don’t think I would have ever dreamed of hearing: Luke List might be a good putter. This is obviously a stretch, as List has been one of the worst putters since turning pro. However, the stats do not lie.

Luke List is at the peak of his career with the putter. Looking at the most recent 50 rounds, his averages are not only his career best, they are actually above Tour average! If he can keep this up, Luke List is bound to win again. His distance and approach play are good enough to be a Top 20 player in the world. He has found mixed results at Bay Hill, depending on how his putter performs.  In the past 2 years, List has missed the cut after losing 6+ strokes putting on Thursday and Friday.

This go around will be much different. Even an average putting performance should give List a chance to compete for the lead. In his T7 finish here in 2018, he lost 2.4 strokes putting. There’s nothing more dangerous than a bad putter finding a hot streak, especially when their ball-striking is as great as List’s. At 110/1, I will happily back Luke List and his newly founded putting prowess.

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