The PGA Tour remains in the Sunshine State this week as part of the Florida swing for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Florida .
The field, reduced to 119 since the withdrawal of the defending champion Bryson De Chambeau due to an injury problem, will all be competing around at this iconic and stunning par 72, 7,466 yards, links style course for a share of the $12m prize purse with the winner collecting the title and $2.16m.
The weather is forecast to be sunny and very warm with temperatures expected to reach the 30s however the breezes, which can cause havoc at Bay Hill, are predicted to pick up over the weekend and will peak at around 20mph. That’s more that enough wind to make this test even more demanding.
This event will be screened on Sky Sports Golf & Sky Sports Main Event with live coverage starting at 3pm GMT on Thursday afternoon.
It’s the second best field on the PGA Tour this year with 32 of the world's Top 50 teeing off at Bay Hill but expect a low winning scorecard. Bryson actually carved up this testing track last year with a -11 scorecard but previous winners were averaging around -5 when winning this event.
I’ll have a look out for a price on the winning scorecard while I’m writing the preview and update you all at the bottom if it’s worth an interest.
Last week… Mmmmmmm, I’m still scratching my head and trying to figure as to how our selection Daniel Berger managed to throw away a five shot advantage going into the final round at the Honda Classic.
On a course that’s so hard to get birdies, I think Berger truly got it all wrong on the final day. It surely had to be all about strategy, percentages and tactics to protect that lead but he crashed and burned to eventually finish in fourth place.
Hey, it’s still decent EW returns at 16/1 but it really should have been much better for both him and us.
I was delighted to see the 5pts Banker Nap land yet again after only 36 holes. Louis Oosthuizen, as advised, comfortably seen off Tommy Fleetwood who couldn’t even make it into the weekend having missed the cut and keep up our 100% strike rate with the Banker Naps.
Well done to everyone who collected in what proved to be yet another profitable weekend for us all here at MFT.
So let’s move on with some selections for this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
For my first and main selection I’m going to single out Viktor Hovland 16/1 EW Bet365.
Every time I select the talented 24 year old Norwegian from Oslo, he either wins or at worst finishes in the place money.
The world's 4th best player is just simply a model of consistency and does all his hanging around at the top of leaderboards these days.
Having already won an event this year when winning the Dubai Desert Classic and finishing fourth last time out at The Genesis Invitational, I’d say ignore Hovland at your peril.
This improving youngster won three events in 2021, on the PGA Tour he collected the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba and also the Hero World Challenge, while on the DP World Tour he won the BMW International Open.
Hovland is getting better and better so that can only mean one thing, more trophies and winner's cheques. I’m of the thinking that after a week off to recharge the batteries Hovland will come back firing on all cylinders and will relish the testing conditions at Bay Hill this week.
I can only see Hovland challenging once again on the back nine at Sunday's final round and he looks like the most likely winner in a star-studded field.
For my next suggestion I’m going to advise Will Zalatoris 28/1 EW Bet365.
The 25 year old from San Francisco, California has played only three events this year on the PGA Tour and hasn’t finished any worse than 26th. He was 26th last time out at The Genesis Invitational, 6th at The American Express and his best finish this year was runner up at the Farmers Insurance where he was so unlucky when beaten by Luke List at the first play-off hole.
That would have been his maiden PGA crown but it wasn’t to be for Zalatoris. However, I believe that defeat will make this talented kid even more hungry for success. He certainly knows he can do it and it’s going to happen soon if you ask me and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was this weekend.
This set up will more than suit Zalatoris' game and he will not be concerned about the testing conditions this weekend. Last year's Masters runner up thrives in tricky conditions and if anyone deserves a PGA victory it’s Zalatoris.
With three Top 8 place money finishes at majors already including 2nd at Augusta last year, T6th at The US Open in 2020 and T8th at The PGA Championship also last year, if it’s not a PGA victory then it’s going to be a major to break his duck soon.
I certainly don’t want to miss out when it happens so my advice is give Zalatoris another chance and back him to finally win on the PGA Tour, the first of what would be many to follow with that monkey off his back.
For my next pick I’m liking the look off Jason Kokrak 50/1 EW SportNation.
The three-time PGA champion is flashing up on the outskirts of our radar and has been for some time now. At 36 years old the Canadian seems to be at the peak of his career having won two PGA crowns last year. The Houston Open and the Charles Schwab Challenge were both scooped by Kokrak in 2021 having already won The CJ Cup in 2020.
He has successfully made the cut at all four attempts this year and he is another who will relish the challenge that this tough track brings.
More significantly, Kokrak's record at this event is sublime with six Top 20 finishes in eight attempts and four of those being in the Top 10, it’s there for all to see that he clearly enjoys this event.
It could all come down to putting this weekend on testing greens and Kokrak ranks 12th for SG putting in the last year so that’s added insurance if you're swithering whether to back him or not.
I’m here to give you the best chance possible to bash the bookie so my advice is back Jason Kokrak each way safe in the knowledge that even just a place will return a tidy profit.
Russell Henley v Sepp Straka
For my final selection it’s the customary matchbet and this week I'm going to single out Russell Henley to beat last weekend's winner Sepp Straka who could still be nursing a hangover 10/13 Nap Betfair.