The 55th edition of the Arnold Palmer Invitational tees off on Friday as the PGA’s Florida Swing continues following last weeks thrilling conclusion to The Honda Classic.
A cool $9.3 million is up for grabs at Bay Hill, and the field looks wide open following the late withdrawal of eight-time winner Tiger Woods.
Australians have enjoyed plenty of success at this event with Jason Day (2016) and Marc Leishman (2017) winning in back to back years. Italian Francesco Molinari returns to defend his crown, but he’ll need to rediscover some of his old form against the likes of Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott.
We tipped Sungjae Im to win last weeks Honda Classic, and we’re confident we’ve found some more winners in our complete Arnold Palmer Invitational Preview below.
2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational Best Bet
Hideki Matsuyama – $17.00
I mean, what’s not to like? Matsuyama took a week off following his T6 in Mexico as he prepares for a big run at the majors. He’s finished inside the top 20 in his last three events and has a stat sheet that rivals just about anyone on Tour. Top 10 in scoring average, greens hit in regulation and 12th in birdie average. The only downfall is his he’s fallen outside the top 30 in his last three appearances at Bay Hill, but with this course calling for accuracy off the tee and on to the green, Matsuyama is the man to beat.
2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational Best Roughie
Billy Horschel – $51.00
If at first, you don’t succeed try, try again. Florida’s very own has played this event in each of the last seven years to very mixed results. Horschel has only finished inside the top 20 twice, but I really think experience counts for a lot at Bay Hill with this course calling for accuracy off the tee. The 33-year-old has hit over 65% off fairways with the driver and close to 70% of greens in regulation, while back-to-back T9’s at TPC Scottsdale and Chapultepec also look good on the resume.
2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational Top 5 Finish
Justin Rose – $9.50
Rose has failed to fire so far missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance and The Honda Classic last week. Those results don’t spell a dramatic turnaround anytime soon, but his results at Bay Hill suggest otherwise. Since 2016, Rose has finished inside the Top 20 on three of four occasions with an outright third in 2018 remaining the highlight.
2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational Top 10 Finish
Tommy Fleetwood – $2.50
Fleetwood was again reminded last week how cruel this game can be. The Englishman was a chance at tying Sungjae Im at -6 under heading to 18, only to sink his layup shot into the water falling to outright third. Fleetwood is still chasing his first win on Tour, so it was a tough result for one of the most likable guys on Tour. The good news is he owns a pair of top 10’s in four starts at this event including a T3 last year, so he certainly shouldn’t be short on motivation.
Jason Day – $4.00
He’s a winner at Bay Hill once already, so why can’t he do it again? This was the start of Day’s dreaded back issues last year, so he’ll be looking to shake off the cobwebs after missing the cut at the Genesis Invitational. Compared to the rest of the field, Day is one of the most well-rested participants having played only three tournaments this year with a solo fourth at Pebble Beach a month ago. Has never missed a cut in six appearances at this event.
Henrik Stenson – $5.00
Stenson, last years Hero World Challenge winner, prepares for his return to the PGA Tour following a two-month stint overseas that saw him finish T44 at the Saudi International last month. The 43-year-old still knows how to swing it with the best of them though, even if his recent form suggests otherwise. The Swede has some strong numbers at Bay Hill finishing top five on four occasions since 2014.
2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational Top 20 Finish
Byeong Hun An – $2.38
It was a big weekend for the Koreans at PGA National with Sungjae Im winning outright and Byeong Hun An finishing T4. His putting was the difference maker down the stretch after opening with a first-round 76, another indication of Hun An’s competitive side as he searches for his first win on Tour. This will mark An’s sixth appearance at this event on the back of a T10 last year, so he’s another player well over the odds.
2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational Top Australian Player
Marc Leishman – $3.75
Leishman won this event back in 2017, but I feel like no one is really giving him the credit he deserves. By all accounts, the Aussie is a Bay Hill specialist with a win and two top 10 finishes to his name as well as a pair of top 25’s. He’s played this event every year dating back to 2009, so how can you argue with that kind of experience? The numbers aren’t particularly impressive, but he tackled a similar course at Torrey Pines two months ago and fared pretty okay.
2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational Field
Rory McIlroy – $6.00
McIlroy, the 2018 Arnold Palmer winner, tees off alongside Francesco Molinari, the defending champ. It should be plenty of fun all around, especially since the Irishman is favoured to win outright for the zillionth time this year. McIlroy has strung together seven consecutive finishes inside the top 10 dating back to August and he also ranks first in scoring average, third in driving distance and second in eagles per hole. Everything lines up for another big performance here if he can find some consistency with the putter on day four, which he did exceptionally well two years ago birdieing five of the last six to claim the trophy.
Bryson Dechambeau – $19.00
Quietly achieved two top-five finishes last month at Riviera and Chapultepec after a disastrous T52 at the Phoenix Open. Dechambeau can sometimes be his own worst enemy when the pressure is on, but he’s got plenty to build on after finishing runner-up at this event last year. His form with the putter remains among the best on Tour, but he’s still struggling to find fairways off the tee.
Xander Schauffele – $21.00
The 26-year-old makes his Arnold Palmer debut this weekend looking to pick up where he left off with back-to-back closing rounds of 66 in Mexico. Schauffele has finished inside the top 25 in his last three starts on Tour, although he does have a few rough edges he needs to smooth over ahead of the Masters. Putting has been a challenge for him so far while his accuracy off the tee also makes him one to avoid.
Adam Scott – $23.00
Australians have had some real success at Bay Hill with Rod Pampling winning in 2006, Jason Day in 2016 and Marc Leishman a year later. A win here for Scott would continue the Aussies’ dominant run this season and the fact he comes in well-rested off a T26 in Mexico certainly bodes well. As far as the API goes, Scott owns an outright third in 2014 and a T12 back in 2016. He skipped this event last year but has made the cut on all four appearances.
Sungjae Im – $26.00
Everything about Sungjae Im’s win at The Honda Classic last week was special. He held his nerve down the stretch to come up with a clutch tee shot over the water on 17, before escaping the bunker on 18 to save par. That was the first of many Tour victories for the young Korean and he is massively over the odds at this price after finishing T3 at Bay Hill on debut last year. We don’t see back-to-back winners very often, but the only setback I can think of is Im’s lack of rest.
Patrick Reed – $26.00
Reed emerged as the surprise winner in Mexico a fortnight ago largely due to his sharp play around the greens. His driving accuracy (and distance) could cause a few challenges at Bay Hill, but he does know this course well having played this event four times prior.
Brooks Koepka – $31.00
Koepka’s form this year has proven just how hard it is to stay on top. A bothersome knee injury late last year continues to impact his swing, as he fell by the wayside last week missing the cut at PGA National. Koepka also missed the cut at the API last year, so there’s really nothing to feel overly optimistic about until he shows some signs of improvement.
Tony Finau – $34.00
Finau has had plenty of time to reflect on his dramatic loss at the Phoenix Open last month. He failed to respond with a T51 at Riviera three weeks ago, but I’m still struggling to draw any positives here. He’s well-rested but hasn’t played at Bay Hill since 2017.
Francesco Molinari – $101
The defending champ has struggled for consistency ever since his two-stroke victory at Bay Hill last year. So far in 2020 the Italian has missed the cut three times in a row before a T53 broke the streak in Mexico. Nothing stands out to suggest a back to back Molinari victory.