Arnold Palmer is rightly considered to be one of golf’s true greats. Alongside the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, Palmer took the game to new heights thanks to a combination of his presence, effortless style and, of course, his prodigious ability. Now 86, Palmer’s playing days are long behind him but he remains an important golfing figure.
Each year a high quality field turn up at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Florida for the invitational tournament which bears the name of the ‘King’ and there is no difference this week. Some of the biggest names in golf’s present will be there looking to win the highly regarded Arnold Palmer Invitational at a venue that Palmer dearly loves. Having fallen in love with the place, Palmer bought Bay Hill in the 60s and his perfectionist tendencies have ensure that the championship course has undergone almost constant changes.
After the 2014 renewal of the Invitational five acres of rough were turned into fairways and the players made the most of the easier conditions last year. Matt Every won with a huge score of -19 and the course ranked amongst the easiest of the year in terms of fairways and greens hit, scoring average and birdies made despite widespread criticism of the putting surfaces. The greens have since been relaid so the scoring could be even better around the 7,419 yard par 72 track.
The course is all set up for a birdie fest but there may be trouble ahead with the weather forecast. As with the rest of the events in the Florida swing the wind is going to be an important factor but there could also be thunderstorms around Orlando so don’t rule out a delayed Monday finish.
Every showed the past two years that this is an event where it possible for long odds players to triumph. The 32-year-old Florida native goes into the event as a 100/1 shot with Betfred but in order to make it a hat-trick of wins he’s going to have to stop Adam Scott who is in the form of his life. Scott is seeking a hat-trick of his own having won in both of his last two starts and the Australian major champion is well fancied to gain victory again at odds of 8/1 with Coral. In his current form, Scott is well worth another bet.
Given that Bay Hill has not proven to be much of a test of driving recently, it is vital to hit greens in regulation and take a high number of chances. That sounds like manna from heaven for a ball striker of the quality of Henrik Stenson. The big Swede loves playing in the state where he lives and he can break his two and a half year duck in America at 14/1 with Betfred.
One player who is going to relish the improved putting surface is Brandt Snedeker. The popular American has played some brilliant stuff this season and at a course where his relative lack of distance should not overly concern him, he offers good appeal especially given the odds of 50/1 that Bet365 are offering.