PGA Tour Picks: Arnold Palmer Invitational Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
In a year, shoot even six months, will anyone remember that Paul Casey won the 2018 Valspar Championship? Nope. They will only recall that Tiger Woods nearly won. The TV ratings for a usually middling event were off the charts all weekend because of Tiger. The ratings for the final round on Sunday of the Valspar drew the largest TV audience for any non-Masters event since the 2015 PGA Championship. It was also the highest network TV audience for a non-major since the 2013 Players Championship, which was won by Woods. Saturday drew the best-rated Round 3 of a PGA Tour event on any broadcast network since 2006.
Alas, Woods, whom it was announced will captain the U.S. Presidents Cup team in 2019, finished runner-up by a shot to Casey. Woods had a putt at the final hole to force a playoff but came up short in his attempt for PGA Tour career win No. 80. Tiger is now up to No. 149 in the world, an improvement of 239 spots from last week. The last time he was ranked better was May 17, 2015, two weeks after he tied for 69th at the Players Championship. It was the first time since The Barclays in 2013 that Tiger posted all four rounds under par on the PGA Tour.
Casey shot a final-round 65 to finish at 10-under and claim his first PGA Tour title in nine years. The 40-year-old Englishman had 23 top-5 finishes on Tour since his last victory at the 2009 Shell Houston Open. Patrick Reed also tied for second. His approach to the 18th came back down the slope, and his 45-foot birdie putt to tie was so short that it rolled all the way back to his feet. Canadian rookie Corey Conners started the final round with a one-shot lead but shot 77 and tied for 16th.
I was torn between Henrik Stenson or Tony Finau winning at Copperhead, but both missed the cut, so let's move on to this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando. I expect mega-TV ratings and a huge spike in attendance with Woods teeing it up again. He hasn't played Bay Hill since winning in 2013, a victory that at the time took him back to No. 1 in the world rankings. This was always an important event to Tiger, who used to live not far from the course, because of his admiration for the late Palmer. Woods has won the tournament a ridiculous eight times and in four of his past five visits.
A total of 12 of the world's Top 25 are to play at Bay Hill, which is a par 72 measuring at 7,419 yards. Yep, I've played this one too. The defending champion is Aussie Marc Leishman. He holed a 50-foot eagle putt on the 16 th hole on Sunday last year to take the lead and kept it with closing pars to shoot 3-under 69 and edge Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman by a shot. Kisner had a three-shot lead at the turn but failed to made another birdie the rest of the way.
Golf Odds: Arnold Palmer Invitational Favorites
I'm a bit stunned that Woods is the massive Bovada favorite this week, way down at +550. Here's a cool statistic: Phil Mickelson, Tiger's top rival, of course won two weeks ago in Mexico to end a victory drought that was 1,687 yards. Sunday will be 1,687 days since Tiger's last victory. How weird is that?
Jason Day is +1200 and Justin Rose +1400. Day was the 2016 champion at 17-under. Day looks all the way back in form as he was second last time out at Pebble Beach and won the tournament before that at the Farmers Insurance Open. Rose was fifth last week and has finished worse than 15th here just once in the past six trips. He was runner-up in 2013.
Rory McIlroy is +1600 and Rickie Fowler +2000. McIlroy is in a bit of a slump with two missed cuts in his past four tournaments overall. He was fourth here last year and 11th in 2015. Fowler has also missed two cuts in his past four and has a best of third here in 2013.
Golf Odds: Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks
I'm not on the Tiger train 100 percent quite yet, so I'm not taking him for a Top 10. Think his odds are ridiculously short (-175). He's -550 to make the cut, which I'm sure he will do. I do like Day (even), Tyrell Hatton (+200) and Francesco Molinari (+500), who has three Top 10s here since 2014.
Go with Day (even) as top Aussie, Hatton (+600) as top European. Head-to-head, like Leishman (-125) over Brian Harman (-105), Rose (-130) over Fowler (even), Louis Oosthuizen (-125) over Brandt Snedeker (-105), Tommy Fleetwood (even) over McIlroy (--130), Hatton (-125) over Alex Noren (-105), and Day (-110) over Tiger (-140).
No combo props to win yet, so I'll take Hatton at +3000. He debuted here with a fourth last year and has finished third in two of his past three worldwide starts overall.
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