When to bet
By 11.35am on Thursday
Where to watch
Live on Sky Sports Golf from 12pm on Thursday
1.5pts each-way 35-1 bet365
1pt each-way 66-1 Betfair
1pt each-way 50-1 Betfair
0.5pt each-way 125-1 bet365
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The battle for world-number-one status continues in yet another ‘elevated’ PGA Tour event this week, with Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler all going to post at Bay Hill.
Rahm is favourite after winning five of his last nine tournaments, but Bay Hill is not a regular port of call for the Spaniard. He tied for 17th place on his Arnold Palmer debut last year. Rahm usually makes merry in California at the start of the season, but he has never won a Tour event in Florida.
Rory McIlroy has failed to find top gear Stateside this year, following 32nd place in Phoenix with 29th spot at Riviera, and the most appealing of the top three in the betting is Scottie Scheffler at 10-1. Scheffler is the defending champion and there seems every chance of him repeating his 2022 Phoenix-Bay Hill double.
Rahm and McIlroy played in the Seminole Pro Member event on Monday, but Scheffler was able to head straight for Bay Hill, staying fresh for his title defence.
Steve Palmer’s top tip
Tyrrell Hatton 35-1
The tee times could have a crucial role to play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational with severe wind forecast for Friday afternoon, so many punters may opt to wait until they know who is out when before placing bets.
Scheffler is a tempting option, but if the Masters champion gets a late start time for Friday, he would become a less attractive proposition. Preference at this stage is to back a quartet of dangermen at healthy prices, looking to bolster stakes if they are handed an early round-two tee time.
Tyrrell Hatton will fancy his chances of making an impact in whatever weather he faces. The Englishman loves Bay Hill – the scene of his only PGA Tour victory in the 2020 Arnold Palmer. He was fourth on his debut in 2017, and also second last year when beaten by just a shot.
Hatton is heading for a happy hunting ground with growing form and confidence. From the Open onwards, he has been on his game, finishing 11th in the final Major of last year, then eighth in the Wyndham, eighth in the Italian Open, seventh in the Dunhill Links and second in the DP World Tour Championship.
This year, seventh place in Abu Dhabi has been followed by sixth spot in the Phoenix Open, and the Orlando-based pro is equipped to challenge the market leaders.
Next best bet
Rickie Fowler 66-1
Reuniting with Butch Harmon was a smart move from Rickie Fowler – the super-coach has got Fowler swinging freely again and his old consistency has returned. Confidence is coursing back through the veins of this former world number four and he enjoyed a hole-in-one in the Phoenix Open.
Fowler is winless since the 2019 Phoenix Open, but recent performances have been greatly encouraging. Sixth place in the Fortinet Championship was followed by second spot in the Zozo Championship, and his last three starts have resulted in 11th place in the Farmers Insurance Open, tenth in Phoenix and 20th in the Genesis Invitational.
Fowler, who has lived in Florida for many years, has won two PGA Tour events in the Sunshine State – the 2015 Players Championship in fine style and the 2017 Honda Classic by a four-shot margin.
Keith Mitchell 50-1
Tom Hoge 125-1
Keith Mitchell is a hugely impressive player – a ball-striker revered by many of his peers – and he did not look out of place in the final threeball of the Genesis Invitational last time out. Alongside Jon Rahm and Max Homa, Mitchell eventually finished fifth, following his sixth place in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier in the month.
The switch to Florida greens should make Mitchell even more dangerous – his lone PGA Tour triumph came in Florida in the 2019 Honda Classic – and his Bay Hill form is excellent. The Georgia-based star was sixth in the 2019 Arnold Palmer and fifth in 2020.
Tom Hoge is one of the best iron-players on the planet – and his short-game has improved – so three-figure Bay Hill odds seem generous. He won the QBE Shootout alongside Sahith Theegala in Florida in December, then started 2023 with third place on his Kapalua debut. Hoge tied 14th in the Genesis last time out.
Bay Hill course guide
Course Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Orlando, Florida
Prize money $20m ($3.6m to the winner)
Length 7,466 yards
Par 72 – four par-fives; ten par-fours; four par-threes
Field 120 The cut Top 65 and ties qualify for round three
Highest-ranked players in field (world ranking in brackets) Jon Rahm (1), Scottie Scheffler (2), Rory McIlroy (3), Patrick Cantlay (4), Xander Schauffele (6)
Course records – 72 holes 264 Payne Stewart (1987) 18 holes 62 Andy Bean (1981), Greg Norman (1984), Adam Scott (2014)
Course winners taking part Martin Laird, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Tyrrell Hatton, Scottie Scheffler
When to bet By 11.35am on Thursday
When to watch Live on Sky Sports Golf from 12pm on Thursday
Time difference Florida is four hours behind the UK and Ireland
Last week – Honda Classic 1 C Kirk (25-1), 2 E Cole (125-1), 3 T Duncan (150-1), 4 R Gerard (200-1), T5 B Martin (150-1), S Straka (50-1), B Taylor (125-1), J Suh (60-1), S Lowry (14-1)
Course type Parkland
Course overview Bay Hill has hosted a PGA Tour event every year since 1979. Arnold Palmer made significant changes to the track before the 2010 edition, so form prior to that year is of little relevance. Water is in play on several holes and there are lots of doglegs
Story of last year Scottie Scheffler edged out Tyrrell Hatton, Billy Horschel and Viktor Hovland to continue his hot streak
Weather forecast Sunny and warm for Thursday, Friday and Sunday, but cloudy on Saturday. Moderate breeze throughout, peaking on Friday afternoon, so there is potential for draw bias
Type of player suited to the challenge There is plenty of water to trouble the competitors on this typically firm, fast layout, as well as greenside run-off areas, putting a premium on accuracy
Key attribute Accuracy
Five of the last seven Arnold Palmer winners were non-American.
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