This week the PGA Tour’s caravan stops in Orlando, Florida, for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, to be held at Bay Hill Club and Lodge from Thursday. As usual, it has attracted a stellar field befitting the respect for the legend who died five years ago at the age of 87.
Interestingly, given the stature of the event and the fact that the prize fund of a cool $9.3-million, the last five years have seen the event won by non-Americans.
Tyrrell Hatton (England), Francesco Molinari (Italy), Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland) and two Australians in Marc Leishman and Jason Day have all held the check for some $1.6m since 2016.
In the early 2000s it was Tiger Woods who dominated, winning the tournament eight times in 13 years but without a European Tour event scheduled in the week of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, it has allowed visitors from that Tour to receive an invite.
This week’s field includes previous champions in Matt Every, Leishman, Molinari, McIlroy and Hatton.
The highest-ranked player in the field is in fact world No6 Hatton and last year’s champion will have a lot of followers to double up. The leading American teeing up is the controversial Patrick Reed (world No8), but I like the meat in that sandwich, McIlroy, to go close to repeating his triumph of 2018.
McIlroy has had an up-and-down 2021 with two top 10s, a 13th and 16th and a missed cut from his five starts, but he showed glimpses of coming back to form with a tie 6th – along with South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen – at last week’s WGC-Workday Championship.
Oosthuizen is also in the field for this week and he’s one of six South Africans teeing it up. The others include Branden Grace, won won in Puerto Rico last week, but while in form, the emotional manner of the win might have taken the edge off him this week.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Charl Schwartzel, Erik van Rooyen and Dylan Frittelli all make up the South African contingent.
10-1 Rory McIlroy
14-1 Viktor Hovland
16-1 Bryson DeChambeau
20-1 Tyrrell Hatton
25-1 Matt Fitzpatrick
28-1 Patrick Reed
33-1 upwards others
Our top 5: Rory McIlroy (10-1), Patrick Reed (28-1), Hideki Matsuyama (33-1), Jordan Spieth (40-1), Louis Oosthuizen (50-1).