The King of Cool
It was a sad day for the golf community on September 25th, 2016. Arnold Palmer touched millions of lives and was one of the great ambassadors of the game of golf. He was the most popular golfer of his time and the coolest. He had the popularity and style of a prince and will be remembered as affecting the game of golf outside of anyone not named Tiger Woods. To read about his life click this link
The Arnold Palmer Invitational this year is going to be an emotional one. It already had the opening tee shot which was magnificent.
Here is Rickie Fowler speaking to the moment today
On to the course:
Bay Hill is located in Bay Hill near Orlando Florida and has hosted the Arnold Palmer Invitational starting in 2007, though Palmer had owned the course starting in 1974.
Players to watch out for?
Tiger won here four years in a row, 2000-2003, and then again in ’08, ’09, ’12’ and 2013. Unfortunately he won’t be playing this year.
Jason Day is the defending champ and will be suiting up this week as he comes back from injury. He carded a -17 last year, which is obviously a great score, so he obviously is comfortable here. Any odds over 6/1 or 7/1 would be a safe bet.
Matt Every has won here twice but really hasn’t been playing his best golf. He has either missed the cut or withdrawn in his last 18 events. He was recently on the No Laying Up podcast and expressed his opinions on the game. He seemed a little cynical and dejected so I’m rooting for hi. He seems to like the course so hopefully we see something this week. He tees off at 1:20 PM
Bubba rebound? I am not a Bubba fan but he has seemed to cool off his antics a bit. Am I coming around on Bubba? No. Will I root for Bubba? No. Do I think he rebounds? Possibly. It seemed like he left every putt short over the past three weeks, maybe it’s his pink or lime green ball throwing him off (it’s not) but as a great driver of the golf ball if he can dial in that putting stroke he may crack the top 10 this week. He’s creative and goes for the big shot, which this course is basically designed for.
Hideki Matsuyama: I mean this guy is good. He has had two down weeks but the kid throws darts. The WGC-Mexico course, at Clue de Golf Chapultepec, was pretty bland and boring. Hit it in the fairway and set yourself up for a wedge into the green. I don’t think this helped Matsuyama’s recovery ability but with more of an open layout I could see him finishing top 5.
Sidenote (Stenson/Rose/Hideki go off at 8:12AM and can be see on PGATOURLIVE.com)
Emiliano Grillo: One of my personal favorite golfers to watch this young Argentine is the reigning rookie of the year. He hasn’t had that great of a season finishing top 10 only once and that was at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba back in November of 2016. His last two tournaments have lacked consistency carding a 77 on Sunday of the Honda Classic after going low with a 65 in round 3. At the WGC he carded another 77 on Tuesday but went 69-69 over the weekend. What type of player is Grillo? Very talented with the capability to go low. He’s got to avoid a bad few holes and when he makes bogey or worse needs to rebound, i.e when he hits it in the water on Monday maybe lay-up on Tuesday.
Some more names to follow:
Smylie Kaufman (fun guy)
Louis Oosthuizen (phenomenal swing mechanics)
Wesley Bryan (really coming into his own as a player, tons of talent)
Rickie Fowler (obviously, see above)
Rory/Stenson/Finau/Pieters: The bombers. These guys hit the shit out of the ball. Look for Pieters particularly. He probably hits the ball the furthest out of those 4, which is saying a lot. He was a dynamite Ryder Cup player who should scare the US for years to come.
Course Description and Feature Holes
The Championship course tips out as a par 72 at 7,381 yards. Anything over 7,200 yards is along even with the new technology. It is not overly long on the par 5’s (561, 555, 574, 511) but rather long on the par 3s. The par 3 2nd is 231, 7th 199, 14th 215, and 17th at 221. I would prefer more variation on the length of the par 3s.
All par threes are protected by surrounding bunkers and the 17th by water.
I expected more water to be honest for Florida, but then you remember it’s central Florida. Regardless when water comes into play it really comes into play. There are a handful of forced carries and the water will come into play on the par-4 3rd and the par- 5 6th.
The 6th hole measures 555 yards is protected with water to the left and bunkers to the right. Aggressive players will try and cut off as much as they can to reach the green in two. A wayward shot will result in either wetness or deep rough to the right. This will be one of the more fun tee-shots to watch this weekend with players trying to start quick with an eagle or at least a birdie.
Here is Tiger at the 6th going for his 4th consecutive W
A look at the majestic par 3 17th
Pick to win:
Rickie— just a great golfer playing great golfer. This isn’t a sexy pick but it may be the right one. Even with Rory and Day teeing it up this week I’m taking Rickie. Rickie was hot heading into the Honda and won, I see him coming back, making some birdies and finihsing around -12 to win it. I think they toughen up the course in honor of Arnold Palmer
Anirban Lahiri: The young man from India has a lot of talent but hasn’t but together a full tournament yet. This is a total gut pick. He’s only 45th in SG Tee to Green and 53rd in SG Approach. That is not the winning combination. He also is ranked 176 in SG Putting. So really this is a gut pick that I’m talking myself out of. Either way I’m rooting for this guy.