PGA Tour Picks: Arnold Palmer Invitational Odds and Expert Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 3/18/2015
There has been some really exciting final-round golf on the PGA Tour this year, and last Sunday at the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook in the Tampa Bay area was no exception as Jordan Spieth birdied the third playoff hole with a 28-foot putt to beat Patrick Reed and Sean O'Hair (they all finished at 10 under). It's good thing Spieth made it because it had some pace and likely was going to be at least four-feet long if he didn't.
It was Spieth's second-career PGA Tour win, with the first also coming in a playoff. He is just the fourth player since 1940 to collect multiple wins before the age of 22. The others are Tiger Woods (six), Sergio Garcia (three) and Robert Gamez (two). Robert Gamez? The win moved Spieth to a career-high No. 6 in the world golf rankings.
It looked as if Ryan Moore was in control with six holes left to play Sunday, at 11-under and leading by three shots. After bogeys at Nos. 13, 16 and 18, he finished 8-under and in fifth place, two shots out of joining the playoff. Moore was attempting to become this season's first two-time winner. Perhaps the most surprising result was Bovada favorite Adam Scott missing a cut for the first time since May 2012. His streak of 45 straight cuts made on the PGA Tour was the longest active. The current record holder is Steve Stricker at 35.
I didn't have Spieth winning or even with a Top-10 finish unfortunately. I had Scott for a Top 10 as well as Jim Furyk (T40) and Matt Kuchar (T33). I had high hopes for Luke Donald at a course he thrives, but Donald was T53. Head-to-head, I did get Kuchar over Justin Rose (who struggled again). That's really about it. Furyk was also my pick to win.
Now the Tour heads to Orlando for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, and I was certain that Tiger Woods would return from his sabbatical this week at a tournament he has won eight times. But Tiger's not ready. He also missed last year due to back surgery. The only other tournaments prior to the Masters are the Texas Open and the Houston Open. Tiger last played the Valero event in 1996 and has never played the Houston tournament. So I'm thinking he won't play officially before Augusta. No way he misses the Masters.
A total of 15 of the world's Top 30 are set to play at Bay Hill, including all of the Top 5. Amazingly, Rory McIlroy hasn't played here before. A total of 10 players with a win this season are in the field. We have now gone 17 events without someone winning a second time in a season. That's the longest stretch since 1994.
Last year, unknown Matt Every got his first PGA Tour win despite bogeying his final two holes. Keegan Bradley, who birdied the 16th and 17th holes, had a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th that would have forced a playoff but missed. Scott led by seven shots after 36 holes but ballooned to a 76 on Sunday and finished third. I'm confident saying Every won't repeat.
Golf Odds: Arnold Palmer Invitational Favorites
To no surprise, McIlroy is the 11/2 Bovada favorite, but I'm not a huge fan of his this week. First off, I generally don't like a guy playing a tournament/course for the first time. Obviously he has been able to practice at Bay Hill, but that can't simulate everything that might happen in a round. Plus McIlroy has been a bit shaky in his two PGA Tour starts thus far. Yeah, he had a T9 at Doral but never broke 70.
Stenson is 9/1. He was fourth at Doral and also fourth last week, just missing the playoff despite three birdies in his final five holes. He has never missed a cut in six tries at Bay Hill with Top 10s in his past two visits.
Two guys with wins already this season, Bubba Watson (11/1) and Jason Day (16/1) are next. Watson has yet to finish outside the Top 15 this season. He had to withdraw last year at Bay Hill due to allergies. He has a best of T4 there in 2012. Day didn't play well at Doral in his last start and didn't play well last time here (T45 in 2013). Scott rounds out the favorites at 18/1. Hard to see him missing another cut and he was dominant here last year before that fade.
PGA Tour Picks: Arnold Palmer Invitational Expert Betting Predictions
On the Top-10 props, I like Stenson at even money, Watson at even and Scott at +150. Sportsbook.ag has props I hadn't seen before: "over/under" finishing position for a few big names. Scott is at 16.5, so go under there. Ditto under 11 on Stenson and 24.5 on Bradley. Over on McIlroy at 7.5.
Heat-to-head, I like Stenson at +110 over McIlroy (-140) and Watson at +120 over McIlroy (-155). Take Scott at -110 over Day (-120), Hideki Matsuyama at -115 over Harris English (-115), J.B. Holmes (-125) over Kevin Na (-105), Webb Simpson (-115) over Sean O'Hair (-115), and Nick Watney (-115) over Martin Laird (-115).
I am tempted to go with Stenson to win here, but all the "expert" power rankings list him as the No. 1 guy. I'm not afraid to follow those at times, but they are almost never right. I'm going with Holmes at 33/1. He's playing very well, is great value at that price and was T10 at Bay Hill last year.
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