The PGA Tour is on the fast track to the Masters, and the Florida swing continues with a high-profile tournament on a high-profile course this weekend.
The Tour is back at Arnie’s Place for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge. It’s the final appetizer before next week’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, and the season’s first major is just a little more than a month away.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau announced he won’t be back to defend his crown, but it’s an otherwise strong field this weekend. Here are a few potential betting picks with odds from DraftKings Sportsbook.
Favorite to back: Rory McIlroy 10-1
The man loves it here. McIlroy has finished no worse than 10th, including a win in 2018, over his last five starts at Bay Hill. He’s also (rather quietly?) playing some really good golf, gaining 6.2 total strokes in his last five Tour starts while finishing 12th and third in a pair of Middle East appearances in January.
Favorite to fade: Jon Rahm +750
Fading the No. 1 player in the world is uncomfortable, but Rahm technically hasn’t won since the U.S. Open, and this is his first crack at Bay Hill.
First-round leader: Seamus Power 60-1
We’re banking on Power regaining the form he showed to begin the West Coast swing where he opened with first rounds of 63, 65 and 64. He then missed the cut at both Phoenix and Riviera, but he shot 71 and 70 to open those tournaments, so it’s not like he was off the planet in either start. Prior to that, Power had been one of the hottest on Tour, and he fits the mold here as one of the better long-iron players. This will sound odd coming off two straight missed cuts, but he’s eighth in this field in bogey avoidance over the last 24 rounds, so he’s unlikely to blow up Thursday or in any round. There’s also this: Power ranks 12th in first-round scoring average (with a 12-round sample size) since the start of the 2021-22 season after ranking 10th and 12th in first-round scoring the last two seasons, respectively.
Long shot to watch: Denny McCarthy 130-1
You don’t want to fall too in love with trends, but we’re looking at long-shot bombs here, so we’ll take what we can get. NBC Sports’ Will Gray this week pointed out every API champion since 2011 has made the cut the year before, and seven of those winners finished in the top 30. McCarthy finished tied for 26th a year ago. He doesn’t come in with the greatest form, but he’s an elite putter who excels on Bermuda grass. If he can play his game and keep the ball in the fairway, he’ll avoid bogeys, as he typically does, and then it just takes one super-hot putting week to be in contention.
Strokes gained data via Fantasy National Golf