This week’s PGA TOUR stop is at the par-72 Bay Hill Club and Lodge for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The tournament began in 1966 as the Florida Citrus Open and was played near Orlando at the Rio Pinar Country Club. It moved to its current location, also in the Orlando area, in 1979.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational holds a special designation on the PGA TOUR, along with eight other tournaments, playing with a limited field and awarding a three-year Tour exemption to the winner. The last five winners of the event have been from Europe or Australia, including last year’s champion, Tyrell Hatton of England.
Hatton survived bad weather that made scoring difficult and won with the highest total in the tournament’s history, 4-under-par 284. It was a stroke better than 2017 champion Marc Leishman and two in front of Sungjae Im.
Tiger Woods has won the tournament a record eight times, with his last victory in the event coming in 2013.
The betting favorite is 2018 champion and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy at odds of +900. The Irishman is followed by young Norwegian sensation Viktor Hovland at +1200 and the reigning U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau at +1300.
It’s hard to consider a past Arnold Palmer Invitational champion as an underdog, but Leishman could be considered a bargain with odds of +5500.
Underdogs to Bet at Bay Hill
One of the players that have created a lot of buzz on the PGA TOUR is Will Zalatoris out of Wake Forest in his first year on TOUR. The 24-year-old has made 10 cuts in 11 events with four top 10 finishes, including a tie for sixth at the U.S. Open.
Zalatoris has odds of +5000 this week after a solid tie for 22nd at last week’s WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession. He’s so far making the most of his Special Temporary Member status on the PGA Tour for 2021, racking up almost $1.4 million in earnings. Zalatoris has the look of the next young prospect to break through with a TOUR win.
It’s hard to consider a past Arnold Palmer Invitational champion as an underdog, but Leishman could be considered a bargain with odds of +5500. The 2017 winner was the runner-up last year and tied for seventh in 2017.
The 37-year-old Australian who resides in Virginia Beach hasn’t had a great 2021 season but has found a way to pull out five career TOUR wins. His best finish was a tie for fourth at the Sony Open in Hawaii and is coming off a mediocre tie for 39th last week at The Concession.
A true longshot who has four career wins but none since 2016 is Charley Hoffman. He finished second to Leishman in 2017 and has been lurking near the first page of the leaderboard in 2021.
His best finish has been a tie for sixth at the Sanderson Farms Championship, and he managed a final-round 66 to tie for seventh place at last month’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
He carries odds of +10000 into the Arnold Palmer Invitational and offers a chance to pick up a nice payday on a player that has qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs in each of the 14 years of its existence.