OKAY admit it – who among you is backing Tiger Woods for The Masters? After completing four rounds in his last two outings with a T12 and T2 last weekend I see his odds have already been slashed for Augusta.
I have to admit I’m not a Tiger fan but last weekend he stood up to the pressure well and looked solid. But 10-1 to win The Masters, I definitely will give that a miss.
Just thought you’d like to know though – I read somewhere Phil Mickelson had gone 1687 days without a win. This Sunday Tiger’s winless streak will be … 1687 days. Hmm. Maybe should be backing Tiger after all.
It was a great win for Paul Casey with an impressive final round of -6 (65) which shows he’s going in the right direction in the lead up to Augusta.
Anyway this weekend the Tour returns to Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. You could probably say that this event is owned by Tiger.
He has won it EIGHT times since 2000, the last one was four years ago and with his form of late he is clear favourite for No.9.
Bay Hill is a course where every part of your game has to be on song. The par 4s are tough and three of the par 5s are longer than 550 yards.
Also not often seen on American golf courses, the rough can be up to 4 inches and the putting greens run around 11.5 on the stimpmeter. Recent changes have seen the rough areas in front of water hazards and bunkers disappear so there’s a higher chance of your ball running into the hazards.
Looking at the stats from the past two to three years Greens in Regulation and Strokes Gained Putting are important.
- Course: Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Orlando, Florida: 7381 yards: Par 72.
With five top 5s Brian Harman has come back strongly this season. Apart from a dip in form at the end of January when he missed the cut in the Farmers Insurance he has been Mr Consistent.
His form in the two WGC tourneys in China and Mexico was excellent with an 8th and T5 finish shows he can now be regarded as one of the top players on Tour.
His four sub-70 rounds in the WGC-Mexico Championship showed how consistent he is and his stats for GIR (2nd) and Strokes Gained:Putting (6th) stand him in good stead for Bay Hill.
He is not a long hitter but a 2nd in the US Open and a 13th at the PGA Championship last year on long courses shows it’s not something that affects him. His form doesn’t look that good here but he is a more accomplished player now and well worth a gamble.
Greens in Regulation: 73.20% (2nd). Strokes Gained: Putting: 0.885 (6th).
Another in form player is Tommy Fleetwood. He defended his title in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of the year which was between two sixth-place finishes. He has also finished fourth in the Honda Classic and followed that with a T14 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship.
Fleetwood has shown remarkable improvement over the past year and has been consistent with it. He’s not afraid to go toe to toe with the big boys which was evident in the US Open last year where he finished fourth.
He sometimes can be slow to get going but if he starts off badly he manages to stay calm and get back on track. In fact last year here he started with a 78 but came back strongly and finished T10. Looks a good price.
Greens in Regulation: 62.93% (T113th) Strokes Gained: Putting: 0.67 (93rd).
If you take out his WGC-Mexico Championship performance Justin Rose has been in good form this season. He won the WGC-HSBC Champions in China and was leading at one point at Valspar early on Sunday but couldn’t sustain it and finished T5.
Putting this week is going to be an important stat and last week at Valspar he was 3rd for Strokes Gained Putting and 12th for Putting Average. He has good form at Bay Hill with four top-10 finishes and is building up nicely for Augusta.
Greens in Regulation: 66.67% (T78th) Strokes Gained: Putting: 0.764 (11th).