The best bets for the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational
Golf fans were treated to a thriller in the Honda Classic last week in Florida as Sepp Straka became the first Austrian to win on the PGA Tour by beating Shane Lowry by a single stroke. We’re staying in the Sunshine State this week for another proper test of golf, with the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
Arnold Palmer Invitational 2022
Sun, March 6 2022, 9:00 PM
This course got a major renovation 12 years ago, and is now a 7,500-yard par 72 with a whopping 84 bunkers and water coming into play on nine of the 18 holes. The greens are big but lightening quick, and the rough is thick and high. Even though the wind shouldn’t be much of a factor this week, there is no getting around the fact that this is a serious test for the world’s best.
How much of a test I hear you ask? Well, in the last 24 years only three players have shot four rounds in the 60s.
Unsurprisingly, you need to rank high in greens in regulation and in strokes gained tee to green to do well around Bay Hill, and course form is a big plus with the last five winners of this event all posting a top five finish here before winning.
Debutants do not perform well at Bay Hill. Robert Gamez was the last man to win on his first visit to this course, and that was 32 years ago. That’s the task that faces World No. 1 Jon Rahm in Florida this week, as the Spaniard makes his first visit to Bay Hill.
Rahm disappointed plenty of bettors when he could only manage 10th around the Phoenix Open despite going in with big expectations, and he followed that up by finishing outside the top 20 in the Genesis Invitational. I’m keen to be against Rahm this week, and one way to do that is with Rory McIlroy.
The Northern Irishman won this event in 2018, and in has a top 10 in each of his last five visits. That course form is invaluable, and RMac looked good when finishing 10th at the Genesis last time out. McIlory has found a level of consistency of late that puts him at the top of his game, and he can upset Rahm in a matchbet.
Casey has plenty of good form to fall back on in Florida: He won the Valspar Championship twice and has finished inside the top 10 here twice in his last three visits. In all three of those appearances he’s been in the top 10 after 36 holes, so there is plenty to like about his game at Bay Hill.
He also arrives in the Sunshine State in some stellar form, having finished inside the top 20 in four of his last five starts in Dubai, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia, before appearing in the Genesis Invitational last time out. Even the one effort outside the top 20 was a solid 24th in the Saudi International.
Casey’s short game has been at its peak in the last month or so, and he ranked ninth in shots gained tee to green in Dubai, and 10th at the Genesis. Everything looks good for another bold show here, and at +175 he’s great value for a top 20 finish.
Another Englishman that I fancy to do well is Justin Rose, and the juice in his price looks to be in backing him to come within the top four European players. Rose hasn’t bloomed at Bay Hill in recent years, but he has five top 10 finishes at this course, so these links can bring out the best in him when his game is truly on.
And this could be a week where Rose's game is on. While his recent results on paper are a little hit and miss, watching some of Rose’s play suggests all the right elements are there. The Pebble Beach Pro-Am was not a good tournament, but before that he finished sixth in the Farmers Insurance Open and 12th in the RSM Classic. At the end of 2021 he also posted top 10s in the BMW PGA Championship and the Wyndham Championship.
In total in the last seven months, Rose has had five finishes in the top 12 from nine tournaments. He's an excellent wager if he can put in another one of those efforts here.
At +138 it’s worth including Mexican golfer Carlos Ortiz to finish inside the top 40 in our staking plan. He has played here three times and has finished inside the top 30 twice, performing well tee-to-green on both occasions.
In his last two tournaments Ortiz has finished inside the top 20 for strokes gained approaching the green, and that iron play will be crucial at Bay Hill this week. He finished inside the top 40 in both of those events (the Phoenix Open and the Genesis Invitational), and has finished inside the top 40 in four of his last six events.
That’s some promising form, and Ortiz could easily make the top 40 again if he recaptures some of that previous magic he’s found here in Florida.