The Workday WGC at Concession did not disappoint last weekend with Collin Morikawa becoming the only player to ever win a major and WGC event before turning 25 not named Tiger Woods. The Tour stays in Florida this week as Bay Hill once again hosts the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The tournament typically sees a huge influx of European talent and the Europeans usually are very successful, with Matt Every and Woods being the only American winners over the past 15 years.
Course Breakdown and Weather
Bay Hill measures out to be over 7,400 yards as one of the longest par-72 layouts on the Tour. While typically being the longest course in the Florida swing, this year it lost that title due to the addition of the The Concession last week. The course tends to favor long hitters, but accuracy with the driver is important, too. With water in play on just about half the holes, it requires a great deal of precision. The course can see a winner at around 20-under if the wind remains calm, or you can see an event play out like last year’s, where Tyrell Hatton won at 4-under.
This year the forecast calls for calm conditions on Thursday and Friday before a weekend that will feature gusts of winds that will range from 20-30 miles per hour. This means that birdies will be available on Thursday and Friday before the course becomes much more difficult, which should make for an exciting tournament.
The favorite this week is Rory Mcllroy at +750, following a sixth-place finish at The Concession last week. Then it is last week’s runner-up, Viktor Hovland (+1200), followed by Bryson DeChambeau (+1200), defending champion Hatton (+1600), Patrick Reed (+2000), and Sungjae Im (+2000).
Mcllroy should play well this week. However, he is not worth a bet at his current price. The first name on the odds board with value is Matthew Fitzpatrick (+2500), Fitzpatrick loves this event. He was runner-up two years ago and scored a ninth-place finish last year. He owns a fifth-place finish at Riviera this season and finished tied for 11th last week at the Concession. Fitzpatrick excels in tournaments that feature difficult conditions, and with high winds expected on the weekend, expect Fitzpatrick to be in the mix late Sunday afternoon.
The next golfer worth a bet is the man who beat Fitzpatrick here two years ago, Francesco Molinari (+2800). Molinari has top-10 finishes in three of his last four events and seems to have a comfort level at Bay Hill. He has the aforementioned win here, to go along with four top-10 finishes and has never missed the cut here in seven starts. Given Molinari’s success here over the years, he is also worth a top-5 finish bet this week.
Best Value Plays
The middle tier this week features last week’s runner-up Billy Horschel (+3000), who is a past winner at Bay Hill, Jason Day (+3000), and a recent winner in Max Homa (+4500). However, the first bet worth looking at is the guy who Max Homa caught to win the Genesis, Sam Burns (+5000).
Burns was unable to go wire-to-wire at the Genesis Invitational two weeks ago, as some late errant shots as well as Homa and Tony Finau turned his 54-hole lead turn into a third-place finish. However, Burns posted a decent final round score of 69 and essentially made two great golfers beat him, which they ultimately did. Homa had a 54-hole lead at the American Express before imploding, yet won a few weeks later. Expect Burns to follow the same mold and bounce back with a great showing this week.
The next name worth a bet is Will Zalatoris (+5000), Zalatoris dominated on the Korn Ferry Tour last season and has played great golf on the big stage of the PGA Tour this season. While Zalatoris has been unable to collect his first Tour win, he has four top-10 finishes and eight top-25 finishes so far in the 2021 season. It is not a matter of if, but a matter of when Zalatoris finally breaks through for his first Tour win. Zalatoris will not be a 50-1 again once he wins, so be on him when he does and take a chance on him to break through at Bay Hill this week.
Bay Hill has not been kind to the longshots over the years, with only one golfer over 100-1 to win in the past decade. This course favors bombers and our first longshot play is Luke List (+11000). List has two top-10 finishes in his past three starts here at Bay Hill, making that the play with him this week. List has the ball-striking ability to find success here and the comfort level to match.
With this tournament playing like a European Tour event year after year, another golfer worth a top-10 play is Alex Noren (+12500). He has been playing good golf recently, including a 12thplace finish at Riviera two weeks ago. The field is much weaker for this event, and if Noren gets hot there is no reason he cannot be in contention on Sunday.
Matchup Play of the Week
The best matchup play of the week is Hatton over Bryson DeChambeau. Hatton won this event last year and the golf course fits his golf game to a tee. Meanwhile, the reigning U.S. Open champion has been trending in the wrong direction since his victory at Winged Foot and now finds himself outside of the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time since he bulked up last summer.
DeChambeau now has hinted that he may slow down his swing in an attempt to gain better accuracy off the tee, which is exactly the opposite of what he championed just a few months ago. He appears to be searching over the past couple tournaments with hopes that he will find something that works before major season kicks off next month at Augusta. The safe bet is to take Hatton, considering he knows what it takes to win here at plus-money, and give DeChambeau a few more weeks to figure his game out.