Star Golfers Return To Arnold Palmer Invitational In Florida

Written By Fairway Jay on March 1, 2022
Sportsbook odds for the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Following the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, the PGA Tour heads up the coast two hours to Orlando for the Arnold Palmer Invitational starting Mar. 3.

The tournament at Bay Hill Club & Lodge drew 5 of the top-10 and 15 of the top-30 players in the world rankings. The substantial purse increase to $12 million and better scheduling slot one week ahead of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach makes the Arnold Palmer Invitational (API) one of the more prestigious non-majors of the season.

The par 72 Bay Hill Club stretches to 7,454 yards. And defending champion Bryson DeChambeau committed to return from hand and hip injuries and play in the tournament last week. But Monday’s early week news includes DeChambeau withdrawing from the tournament.

DeChambeau’s world ranking has fallen to No. 12, and he finished 2nd in the API in 2018 behind winner Rory McIlroy, who is back at Bay Hill.

Players to watch and odds to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational

World No. 1 Jon Rahm and No. 4 Viktor Hovland along with No. 5 Rory McIlroy are the top favorites. And surging Scottie Scheffler in the top-10 of the world rankings after winning the recent Phoenix Open.

Starting the beginning of tournament week, betting odds will be posted by the leading online sportsbooks including FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM.

While the Florida sports betting legal battle continues in the Sunshine State, DraftKings CEO believes a sports betting proposal in FL will be on the 2024 ballot.

Golf fans and bettors who like a little action on their favorite players and events hope the news is favorable for sports betting.

Golfers ranked top-50 in the world competing in the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Here are the top players that have committed and leading favorites, world rankings and odds to win, courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.

Jon Rahm (1): +800Sungjae Im (24): +2700Talor Gooch (33): +5000Corey Connors (43): +5500
Viktor Hovland (4): +1400Matt Fitzpatrick (25): +2700Adam Scott (34): +2900Tommy Fleetwood (44): +5000
Rory McIlroy (5): +1000Jason Kokrak (26): +4100Matthew Wolff (35): +10000Justin Rose (45): +5500
Scottie Scheffler (6): +1600Paul Casey (27): +4100Max Homa (36): +4100Seamus Power (46): +6500
Hideki Matsuyama (10): +2000Patrick Reed (28): +1000Marc Leishman (37): +2900Cameron Tringale (47): +5000
Sam Burns (16): +4100Kevin Na (29): +9000Kevin Kisner (39): +9000Sergio Garcia (49): +5000
Billy Horschel (22): +3400Will Zalatoris (30): +2900Russell Henley (40): +5000
Tyrell Hatton (23): +2900Thomas Pieters (32): +6500Lee Westwood (41): +1000

International players had won five straight editions of the API until DeChambeau snapped the streak last year.

You can follow tournament updates and highlights from the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the API Twitter account.

Recent Arnold Palmer Invitational winners and runner-ups:

  • 2021 – Bryson DeChambeau (-11), Lee Westwood
  • 2020 – Tyrrell Hatton (-4), Marc Leishman
  • 2019 – Francesco Molinari (-12), Matthew Fitzpatrick
  • 2018 – Rory McIlroy. (-18), Bryson DeChambeau
  • 2017 – Marc Leishman (-11), Kevin Kisner, Charley Hoffman
  • 2016 – Jason Day (-17), Kevin Chappell

Notable top finishers in 2021 and 2020 playing in this year’s event:

  • Bryson DeChambeau (Win)
  • Lee Westwood (2)
  • Corey Connors (3)
  • Jason Kokrak (T8)
  • Will Zalatoris (T10)
  • Paul Casey (T10)
  • Rory McIlroy (T10)
  • Max Homa (T10)
  • Matt Fitzpatrick (T10)
  • Tommy Fleetwood (T10)
  • Charley Hoffman (T10)
  • Tyrrell Hatton (Win)
  • Marc Leishman (2)
  • Sungjae Im (3)
  • Bryson DeChambeau (4)
  • Rory McIlroy (T5)
  • Matt Fitzpatrick (T9)

McIlroy, Im and Fitzpatrick also finished top 10 in the 2019 event.

Bay Hill

When Arnold Palmer developed Bay Hill and moved to the area, he turned Central Florida into a recreation destination (before Disney World, 1971). And transformed the entire State of Florida into a golfing mecca.

Arnie took ownership of the course in 1975. And Bay Hill has hosted a PGA Tour event every year since 1979. Palmer co-founded the Golf Channel just a tee shot away from Bay Hill in 1995. It now broadcasts most PGA Tour events Thursday through Sunday with major networks chipping in coverage on the weekends.

Arnold Palmer passed away in Sept. 2016, but his legacy lives on. The King’s generous financial gifts have benefitted numerous charitable causes, including throughout the Orlando area.

Bay Hill was the first golf course to plant Tifway bermudagrass. The greens were re-grassed in 2015, and are above average in size. The tournament fact sheet shows the greens average 7,500 square feet.

The putting surfaces are pure, with little undulations. Water comes into play on nine holes. And more than 80 bunkers make approach play more difficult, along with the firm and fast greens.

Missing the more generous fairways presents problems with Bay Hill ranking as one of the hardest courses to get the ball close to the hole from the rough.

Daniel Berger dominates three rounds before faltering at the Honda Classic

South Florida native, Jupiter resident and former Florida State Seminole Daniel Berger had plenty of supporters on his side for a home game at the Honda Classic. The 28-year-old shot 65-65 at PGA National to take the tournament lead through 36 holes.

In the last 15 seasons on the PGA Tour, players to lead by 3-shots through 36 holes have gone on to win 33.9% of the time. This is according to PGA senior researcher and Twenty First Group head of content Justin Ray Golf.

Berger continued his strong play on Saturday and it looked like he had the Honda Classic in the bag. But the 28-year-olds 5th PGA Tour win slipped away.

He lost the lead on the front nine shooting 3-over par and went to the back nine tied for the lead with Shane Lowry and 1-shot in front of the eventual winner and former Georgia Bulldog Sepp Straka.

His closing round 4-over par 74 left him in 4th place behind first time PGA Tour winner Sepp Straka. Following his final round ‘collapse’, he handled questions from the press like a pro, starting with “in general, what went wrong today?”

“Just a poor round. It can happen at any time. I’m not going to dwell on it too much. Just didn’t hit quality shots at the right time, and I didn’t feel good over the putter or make a single putt today.”

Berger was one of the favorites to win the tournament, and FanDuel Sportsbook had his pre-tournament odds to win at +1600. He’s the first Austrian to ever win on the PGA Tour.

Straka’s stats were superior as he finished 1st or tied for 1st in the Honda field in fairways hit, greens in regulation and strokes gained off the tee.

Photo by Debby Wong /
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