PGA Tour Picks: Arnold Palmer Invitational Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
At one point on the back nine at PGA National Sunday in the Honda Classic, there was a seven-way tie for first between Ryan Palmer, Vijay Singh, Lucas Glover, K.H. Lee, Brooks Koepka and Keith Mitchell.
Sorry, but one name doesn't belong among that group: Mitchell. So naturally, he won. Mitchell birdied Nos. 12, 13, 15 and 18, the last one from 15 feet for his first PGA Tour win in his 40th career start. Had Mitchell missed, he's headed to a playoff with Koepka and Rickie Fowler. Even though Mitchell was an All-American at Georgia, he never won an NCAA event. His only professional victory was five years ago in a mini-tour event in North Carolina.
This one was well-deserved with that clutch putt and finishing No. 1 in the field for the week in tee to green. Mitchell was the No. 162 player in the world coming and off three missed cuts in his last four starts. Needless to say, I didn't address Mitchell at all last week. I put most of my money on Koepka, Fowler and Gary Woodland at +375 vs. the field but also threw some down on Billy Horschel at +3300 to win. He finished T16.
This week the Tour heads north in the Sunshine State to Orlando for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which always draws a strong field to Bay Hill because the players know how important the late Palmer was in making golf such a popular sport. This week's field is quite good, but perhaps not as good as past years because the Players Championship is now the week after, so a few are resting up for that - Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth among them.
Phil Mickelson is playing at Bay Hill for the first time since 2013. The clear story line this week was going to be Tiger Woods attempting to become the first player to win a PGA Tour event nine times; shoot, he even won the 1991 U.S. Junior Amateur there.
After Woods turned pro in 1996, he moved to the Orlando area and began making frequent visits to Bay Hill. Tiger has been among the big-name players who promised to keep supporting the tournament in honor of Palmer. However, on Monday Woods pulled out with a neck strain: "Unfortunately due to a neck strain that I've had for a few weeks, I'm forced to withdraw from the API," Woods posted on Twitter. "I've been receiving treatment, but it hasn't improved enough to play. My lower back is fine, and I have no long-term concerns, and I hope to be ready for The Players."
At least it's not his troublesome back. Last year, Tiger finished T5 and was contending on Sunday, which led to an explosion in TV ratings. Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013. He opened as the +900 second-favorite this week.
Bay Hill Club & Lodge, which I've also played, is a par 72 measuring around 7,420 yards. Palmer first played there in 1965 and loved it, eventually buying the property and adding design tweaks.
Golf Odds: Arnold Palmer Invitational Favorites
Rory McIlroy is the defending champion and +650 at Bovada to repeat - Tiger was the last to do so. McIlroy began Sunday last year two behind Henrik Stenson but shot a 64, including five birdies in his final six holes to win by three at 18 under. McIlroy hasn't won since but has finished Top 5 in four straight tournaments.
Koepka, Fowler and world No. 1 Justin Rose are all +1200. Rose has a chance to win back-to-back tournaments on the PGA Tour as his last event in the USA was a victory at the Famers Insurance Open in late January. Rose has five Top 10s here, including third in 2018. Koepka hasn't contended in three trips, while Fowler has a best of third in 2013.
Mickelson is +4500 to win this for the second time (1997). Mitchell is +10000 to shock the world again. It's his Bay Hill debut.
Golf Odds: Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks
For a Top 10, I like McIlroy (-150) and 2016 champion Jason Day (+140). Head-to-head, go Tommy Fleetwood (-125) over Francesco Molinari (-105), Day (-105) over Fowler (-125), Ian Poulter (-110) over Lucas Glover (-120), 2017 champion Marc Leishman (-115) over Hideki Matsuyama (-115), and Rose (-115) over Koepka (-115).
You can get McIlroy & Rose at +375 vs. the field (-600), but I'd go field there. Can also get Day, Leishman and Matsuyama at +650 vs. the field (-1200). Still field.
My winning pick is Poulter at +5000 as he's having a career resurgence with four straight Top 6 finishes worldwide. Poulter is an Orlando native and knows the course well having played every year since 2011 and not missing a cut. He was third in 2012.
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