Henrik Stenson could shine at Arnold Palmer Invitational

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March 4th, 2020

The PGA Tour moves to the Orlando area this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge. It will be the fourth rendition of the event since Palmer died in 2016.

In honor of the King, the winner is given a red cardigan sweater. The tournament’s champion also receives a three-year Tour exemption, as opposed to the normal two, just like Memorial (Jack’s Nicklaus’ tournament) and Genesis (Tiger Woods’ event).

The tournament was dealt a blow last week, when Woods, an eight-time winner at Bay Hill, opted not to play because of stiffness in his back. It’s not known yet if he’ll play at TPC Sawgrass next week, but the Arnold Palmer is still a coveted tournament. Somebody will have to tame this 7,429-yard beast of a course to win.

Bay Hill presents plenty of challenges

Just like Sawgrass, Bay Hill concludes with a par 5, then a par 3 and by a par 4. The 16th is a reachable 501-yarder, the 17th is a tremendously challenging, 220-yard par 3, and the finale is a taxing, 462-yard monstrosity.

Another hole of note at Bay Hill is the sixth, a 557-yard par 5 that swings around, almost like a horseshoe, and has water to the left all the way. Back in 1998 John Daly made an 18 there.

McIlroy is favored, but Stenson could surprise

The average age for a winner on Tour this season is 30, which is the age of +500 top choice Rory McIlroy. However, one I’ll consider playing at +3300 is Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who is now 43. He owns five top 10 finishes at Bay Hill and displayed some good form in the Bahamas in December, when he defeated a small but stellar field to win the Hero World Challenge.

Stenson’s results on the European Tour this season could be better, but I’m willing to give him a shot on a course he loves. I could envision another potent run from Stenson this season.

Another player I like and at +6600 is Rafa Cabrera Bello from Spain. He enters the tournament off two straight top 20 finishes and finished third in his Arnold Palmer debut last year. At those odds, and with an apparent liking for Bay Hill, he's worth considering.

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