Another week, another elevated event! After a pseudo bye week at the Honda Classic, all of the game’s best have returned to action in Orlando, Florida for the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge. That means Arnold Palmer Invitational odds will include most of the best players in the world.
Last year, severe winds intervened over the weekend, creating a chaotic conclusion in which Scottie Scheffler edged past Viktor Hovland, Gary Woodland and Billy Horschel to claim his second career victory. The win foreshadowed better results later to come for Scheffler in Majors. So it’s yet another week to reference performance in difficult, Major-like conditions when handicapping this event.
The API tests players’ all-around games and has produced a decorated list of winners. Standing over 7,400 yards, Bay Hill will force a high volume of approaches from 200+ yards, and features some of the thickest rough on TOUR. That means an emphasis on Distance, long-irons, and Short Game around firm and fast Bermuda greens.
Over the last six years, only Kevin Chappell has registered four rounds in the 60s in the same API tournament. So, we should expect some patience from players to battle for four tough days of golf. Here is everything you can expect from Bay Hill at the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
2023 OPENING ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL ODDS: THE FAVORITES
Scroll to the bottom of this article to compare complete API outright odds across legal U.S. sportsbooks. Find the favorites in Florida this week with odds shorter than 20-1 here when sportsbooks open odds midday Monday.
THE FIELD AT A GLANCE
The 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational follows the Sentry Tournament of Champions, WM Phoenix Open, and Genesis Invitational as the fourth Designated, Elevated event of the season, and third over the last four weeks. With its Elevated status, the purse has increased to an event-high $20M, which has attracted all eligible players inside the OWGR top-50.
PGA TOUR odds this week include a field of 120. It is highlighted by the big-three of Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler. It’s a compelling converging of the game’s best in one place, as Rahm is undoubtedly the best golfer in the world at the moment, McIlroy is a past winner of the event with dominant course history, and Scheffler is your defending champion, spring-boarding himself into the conversation among golf’s elite after his 2022 victory. There should be a clear gap in Arnold Palmer Invitational odds between the top three and the rest of the field this week.
In addition to Scheffler and McIlroy, the list of other Arnold Palmer Invitational past champions returning to the field this week includes Tyrrell Hatton, Francesco Molinari, Jason Day, and Martin Laird.
Newcomers to the Elevated Event
The Florida Swing is a cluttered stretch on the PGA TOUR schedule. With one great course after the other, everyone starts by prioritizing THE PLAYERS Championship, but can’t play them all. Following a busy West Coast Swing, the Arnold Palmer Invitational has not always ushered in as many of the elites as we’ve grown used to seeing at the Genesis Invitational. That changes this year, however, with the Arnold Palmer Invitational now a Designated Event with a higher purse and expectations for all top players to appear.
Notable veterans who have made no more than one prior appearance at the Arnold Palmer Invitational include Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, and Jordan Spieth. I won’t be going out of my way to play this group of players who have chosen to skip this event when given the choice.
INTRODUCTION TO BAY HILL
We are in the teeth of the “grinder” stretch on the PGA TOUR. For the third straight week, par will be a good score on a majority of holes. Like PGA National last week, penalties loom, with water hazards in play on nine holes. The Arnold Palmer Invitational has caused the highest percentage of penalty strokes in three of the last four years.
Also similar to PGA National, heavy Florida winds factor in. In 2020, Tyrrell Hatton survived severely windy conditions with a Sunday 74 to post a -4, which edged him past Marc Leishman by one stroke to claim victory. Last year, the weather took a turn for the worst over the weekend, quickly becoming a scrambling contest with these greens nearly impossible to reach in regulation. The median score has fallen around +5 in years where winds are up, so needless to say, it’ll be worth monitoring the forecast this week.
There’s also been a steady trend of international players finding success here, suggesting an advantage for those who are comfortable in conditions more exposed to the elements.
For Bay Hill course specs, hole-by-hole breakdown with yardages, and past API winners with their pre-tournament odds, visit our Arnold Palmer odds page.Editor’s Note
There is a long list of players who have enjoyed repeated success at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It’s an eclectic group of bombers and short game specialists, but none come as much of a surprise.
Looking at each of the last six winners, it’s notable that all six posted a Top-15 finish at this event prior to picking up their win. If that trend continues, then Rory McIlroy, Chris Kirk, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Keegan Bradley, Scottie Scheffler, Viktor Hovland, Corey Conners, Billy Horschel, Gary Woodland, Jordan Spieth, Lucas Herbert, Sam Burns, Cameron Young, Russell Henley, and Collin Morikawa would each fit the bill.
Rory must have a flair for Invitationals, as if there’s an event he’s proven more consistency at than the Genesis, it is assuredly the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Over eight career appearances, he’s never finished outside the top-30, including a win in 2018 and a current streak of six consecutive top-13 finishes.
He was the first round leader at this event last year, and has now posted the low round of the day in the last seven API events. A cold putter has led to some disappointing recent finishes, but McIlroy continues to rank No. 1 SG: T2G over the last 36 rounds, and will be in the top tier of favorites once again this week.
Others Excelling At The Arnold Palmer Invitational
After McIlroy, the rest of the top 10 in Course History includes Tyrrell Hatton, Francesco Molinari, Sungjae Im, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Scottie Scheffler, Matt Fitzpatrick, Justin Rose, and Tommy Fleetwood. Although that list spans drastically different profiles of players, there is a prevailing trend of veterans who’ve proven consistent in difficult scoring conditions.
There are 11 players in this field who have delivered multiple T10 finishes over the last five years: McIlroy, Hatton, Fitzpatrick, Fleetwood, Sungjae Im, Chris Kirk, Keegan Bradley, Keith Mitchell, Corey Conners, and Luke List. A few additional players with multiple top-20 finishes over the same span includes Charley Hoffman, Scottie Scheffler, Byeong Hun An, Max Homa, Sam Burns, Hideki Matsuyama, and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
There is a long list of 18 players who have avoided missing the cut over the last five years (minimum three appearances): McIlroy, Kirk, Im, Hatton, Bradley, Bezuidenhout, Mitchell, Homa, Matsuyama, Fowler, An, Viktor Hovland, Patrick Rodgers, Harris English, Zach Johnson, Brendon Todd, and Beau Hossler. The long list of repeat performers illustrates that Course History is more sticky at Bay Hill than most other PGA TOUR courses.
This is one of the rare weeks on the PGA TOUR where Course History is sticky enough to prioritize over Comp Course History. With that said, there are still plenty of signals to draw from other long and difficult comp conditions.
Quail Hollow would seem to be the best place to start when looking for comps to Bay Hill. Both courses are over 7,400 yards with an advantage to bombers, they feature thick and penal rough throughout, and have firm and fast Bermuda greens. Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Max Homa, Keith Mitchell, Viktor Hovland, Gary Woodland, Bryson DeChambeau, and Luke List have all proven the strong correlation between both courses.
After Quail Hollow, PGA National, Innisbrook Resort, and The Concession all share similar characteristics from the Florida region, while Muirfield Village has also offered a similarly stern test with its length, thick rough, and firm greens.
Annually one of the most difficult scoring venues on the PGA TOUR schedule, it’s always a good idea to reference recent Major results in Arnold Palmer Invitational week, as Scheffler foreshadowed with his 2022 victory. The Country Club, Bethpage Black, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines (South), The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, and Augusta National all serve as strong comps to simulate scoring in difficult conditions.
Wrap that altogether and the top-10 players in terms of Comp Course History are Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Will Zalatoris, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele, Keegan Bradley, Matt Fitzpatrick, and Shane Lowry.
KEY STATS TO CONSIDER FOR 2023 ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL ODDS
- Driving Distance / SG: OTT
- SG: APP
- SG: ARG
- Bogey Avoidance
- Prox: 150+
- P3: 200+
- P4: 450-500
- Par-5 Scoring
- SG: T2G (Difficult Scoring Conditions)
- SG: Putting (Bermuda / Fast Bermuda)
- Course & Comp History
What makes Bay Hill so great is the diversity of leaderboards we’ve seen here. You can’t simply cross players off from contending if they are below average in Distance, Approach, or Putting. We’ve seen Matt Every win as often as Tiger Woods since 2010 (twice). In 2021, Bryson DeChambeau and Lee Westwood, who sit on opposite sides of the distance spectrum, fought neck and neck from start to finish. With that said, there is no set formula to find success at Bay Hill, but prior success in demanding conditions tend to be the best indicator. The top-10 players in SG: T2G (Difficult Scoring Conditions) are Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, Max Homa, Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Sungjae Im, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau, and Patrick Cantlay.
A presence of long par-4s and long par-3s have shown consistent across most difficult venues. Bay Hill is no different with five par-4s measuring over 450 yards and all four par-3s measuring over 200 yards. There are just eight players who rank top-40 in scoring from both hole ranges: Max Homa, Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm, Sungjae Im, Tom Hoge, Jason Day, and Aaron Baddeley.
Nearing 7,500 yards, Bay Hill offers a high concentration of approaches from long range. About one-third of approaches will come from beyond 200 yards, and a significant 70% of approaches will come from over 150 yards. The top-10 players in terms of Proximity 150+ are Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm, Cam Davis, Xander Schauffele, Rory McIlroy, Cameron Young, Tom Hoge, Justin Rose, Gary Woodland, and Sungjae Im.
From an Approach standpoint, Bay Hill offers a different test on second shots than we’re used to seeing week to week on the PGA TOUR. With narrow fairways, below-average driving distance, and some of the thickest rough on TOUR, we’re going to see plenty of long iron approaches out of thick rough. They’ll often serve to bail out false fronts where players can make an “easier” up and down.
In any case, it’s still a PGA TOUR event, and SG: APP still reigns supreme. Players who excel on approach will give themselves scoring opportunities on a course where those are not exactly abundant. The top-10 players in SG: APP entering this week are Tom Hoge, Xander Schauffele, Rory McIlroy, Tom Kim, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris, Tony Finau, Mark Hubbard, and Shane Lowry.
Short Game Emphasis
With a winning score of -12 or less in five of the last six contests, the ability to repeatedly scramble for pars is a premium skillset to bring to Bay Hill. There are 11 players who rank top-40 in SG: ARG, Scrambling Gained, and Bogey Avoidance: Max Homa, Patrick Cantlay, Tommy Fleetwood, Sahith Theegala, Hideki Matsuyama, Tom Kim, Seamus Power, JJ Spaun, Andrew Putnam, Aaron Baddeley, and Mackenzie Hughes.
From a putting standpoint, the Bermuda specialists stand out on the Florida Swing. This course has seen success from short game savants like Kevin Na, Kevin Kisner, Billy Horschel, and Christiaan Bezuidenhout who lack the distance you’d ideally want to see for Bay Hill. In a weighted model of Recent Total Putting, Bermuda Putting, Fast Green Putting and Arnold Palmer Invitational Putting, the top-10 includes Taylor Montgomery, Sam Burns, Beau Hossler, Andrew Putnam, Tyrrell Hatton, Ben Taylor, Thomas Detry, Tommy Fleetwood, Lucas Herbert, and Justin Rose.
Piecing this together, I’m looking to hone in on players who are above-average in SG: APP, Prox 150+, SG: ARG, SG: T2G (Difficult Conditions), Course & Comp Course History, and Total Weighted Putting. There are just 11 players who fit that criteria: Jon Rahm, Sungjae Im, Max Homa, Will Zalatoris, Tony Finau, Tyrrell Hatton, Sahith Theegala, Brian Harman, Erik Barnes, Chris Kirk, and Billy Horschel.
Correlation And Bay Hill
As is normally the case when we get to a difficult golf course that tests all-around game, the markers of success at Bay Hill do not vary drastically from what it takes to succeed across all PGA TOUR courses.
The biggest jump in importance at Bay Hill in terms of correlation with SG: TOT is SG: Short Game and SG: APP, which enter the top 10 of key stat categories this week. That makes sense on a course that yields a high percentage of missed greens in regulation.
SG: P (20-25 ft), P3: 200+ and Driving Distance also saw notable increases in importance compared to TOUR average.
As for stats to avoid, Prox 75-125 and Sand Saves Gained saw the biggest drop in importance.
Just nine players rate out above average in each of the above top-10 stat categories for Bay Hill: Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Sungjae Im, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Jason Day, Tyrrell Hatton, and…Will Zalatoris.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: WILL ZALATORIS
Will Zalatoris in difficult conditions. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before! Since 2020, Zal has delivered 17 top-10 finishes, 12 of which coming in comp difficult conditions between Torrey Pines, Muirfield Village, Riviera CC, Winged Foot, The Country Club, Southern Hills, Kiawah Island, Augusta National, and right here at Bay Hill. So just as the “Homa in California” trend continues to pay dividends, Zalatoris in difficult conditions is one of the most reliable narratives in professional golf to go back to.
The anatomy of a grinder in tough conditions from a statistical standpoint typically includes some combination of elite driving distance, consistent scoring across long par-3, 4, and 5’s, Bogey Avoidance, and a comfortability on firm and fast greens. These are the categories in which Zalatoris shines, as he joins Jon Rahm as the only two players to rank top-40 in each category.
Since winning the FedEx St. Jude Championship last August, his health has gone into question, so I’ve been hesitant to back him in 2023 until we see signs of a full recovery. But a T4 finish at the Genesis Invitational last we saw him should now quell any remaining speculation as to whether he’s healthy enough to contend again. Even more encouraging to me than the T4 placement however, is how he’s finished tournaments. With a player recovering from injury, such as Tiger Woods for example, it’s fair to expect play to get worse over four rounds as fatigue sets in. It’s been the opposite for Zalatoris since returning from injury, however, as he’s shot his best round of the tournament on Sunday each time he’s played four rounds in 2023.
TPC Southwind, site of his maiden victory is not a perfect comp for Bay Hill, but his performance on similar Bermuda greens is one that should translate. His putter continues to trend, now gaining with the flat stick in six consecutive events, so if that continues, there’s no question he has the tools to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR AT 2023 ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL
This is one of few PGA TOUR weeks where the absence of some of the LIV players will feel especially apparent. Bryson DeChambeau’s well-publicized attempt to drive the green over the water on the par-5 6th hole was a must-see moment in golf, and it’s a shame the 2021 champion can’t be here to have another go at it. In any case, the field is still stacked without him, and the Elevated events have not disappointed yet, so we should be in store for another captivating week of high-level golf.
With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool for DFS. Naturally, I’m looking their way in the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational odds as well. It’s broken out by projected pricing/odds tier for Draft Kings.
For my model in Fantasy National this week, I’m prioritizing SG: APP, SG: ARG, Prox 150+, Course & Comp Course History, and SG: T2G (Difficult Scoring Conditions) followed by a more balanced mix of Weighted Putting (Bermuda, Fast Greens), Driving Distance, P4: 450-500, Par 3: 200+, Par-5 Scoring, Bogey Avoidance, and SG: T2G (L12 Rounds). I typically don’t feed that many categories into my model. But, I think this event is really a testament to players who are well-rounded across a number of specific distance and short game-oriented categories.
No surprise here. The No. 1 player, hottest golfer in the world, and inevitable favorite in Arnold Palmer Invitational odds, Jon Rahm, claims the top spot in the model this week. On paper, it’s a perfect fit for Rahm who can lean on all his ball-striking strengths and long-iron prowess to generate amble scoring opportunities at Bay Hill. If there’s room for hope for the field against this dominant force, Bermuda is the surface which Rahm has had the most trouble with over his career. He’s never won on the east coast before, and had avoided coming to this event up until last year, where he lost 5+ strokes with his short game. I’m just saying, there’s a chance he might not boat race this one!
After Rahm, my model’s top-10 is rounded out by Rory McIlroy, Sungjae Im, Max Homa, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Will Zalatoris, Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau, and Collin Morikawa.
I expect Will Zalatoris to be the most popularly bet player this week. I have a hard time picturing players like Homa, Cantlay, Thomas, and Morikawa priced longer than Zalatoris, which means Zal should open around 25-1. I’d say I’m committed regardless of the odds, and in addition to Zalatoris, will also be considering Max Homa, Collin Morikawa, and Sam Burns for my betting card when Arnold Palmer Invitational odds are released on Monday.
Thanks for reading and good luck!
2023 ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL ODDS TABLE
Bet on any golfer by clicking on the Arnold Palmer Invitational odds in the table. It should begin to populate by midday Monday as sportsbooks open odds for the API.