Arnold Palmer. The King. The tournament named after Mr. Palmer is about to tee off Thursday morning. It’s a very strong field as always. Despite Tiger Woods withdrawing on Monday due to soreness in his neck, 17 of the top 50 in the world are here this week. Here’s who I think has the best chance to take home this prestigious trophy this week and my one and done selection at the end.
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The PGA golf season is a long one, but there are certain stretches where the intensity ramps up. With the Players Championship moving to March this season, it’s fair to say that the month of March is going to be a good one for golf fans. The 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational, which will start this Thursday, March 7 at the famed Bay Hill Course, is a serious tournament. It’s one where the players also have a bit of fun before the bigger tournaments come into play. It’s a star-studded field set to tee off on Thursday, so let’s take a look at some of the golf betting favorites.
- Location: Bay Hill, Florida, U.S.
- Established: 1966
- Course: Bay Hill Club and Lodge
- Par: 72
- Length: 7,419 yards
- Tour: PGA
- Format: Stroke play
- Prize fund: $9.1 million
McIlroy is Hot
It was the Irishman who won here last year after delivering a back nine performance for the ages on the final day of the tournament. He is the favorite to win again this year, although we have now gone 3 years without seeing a back to back winner at this event.
It’s still very early in the 2019 season, but McIlroy is already in very good form, landing in the top 10 on 4 separate occasions, with his best being a 2nd place finish at the World Golf Championships – Mexico. With 14 wins on the tour, this is a player that is always in with a shot at landing atop the leaderboard.
Justin Rose – Next Best
The defending FedEx Cup Champion is going to be one of the players drawing a lot of attention this week, with golf fans keen to see how he follows up what was a brilliant season last year.
The early signs show that Rose is picking up right where he left off, as he already has a tour win under his belt this season, taking the top prize at the Farmers Insurance Open, as well as landing in the top 3 at the HSBC Champions event. His win came at the end of January, and he has not played in the US since, so perhaps a little rust here, at least on Thursday. I see an even par round to start off before he starts to go low on the weekend but won’t be surprised to see his name near the top of the leaderboard all week.
Keep on Keopka
This is a player who has, rather quietly, moved his way all the way up to the #3 spot in the world rankings. And anyone who watches golf knows he has that look in his eye when he tees it up like he can’t be stopped. Koepka has seen his 2019 season got off to a fast start with a win at the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges event, as well as a tie for second at the Honda Classic last weekend.
If he can carry over his strong play from that event, he might well prove to be the one to watch come Sunday afternoon.
Rickie Don’t Lose That Number
When you talk about a player who is in the top 10 in the world, it seems odd to talk about a breakout season, but Fowler may be about to have that, as he has made a killer start to 2019.
Fowler has landed in the top 5 in 3 separate tournaments, including a win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He is a good bet to get into the top 5 again this weekend and could be right there come Sunday afternoon.
Other Notables I like this week:
Bryson DeChambeau – He’s won the Memorial and you know he has this one in his sights. Playing in top form if he can keep his temper in check.
Mark Leishman – Former winner also playing well in 2019. Would not be surprised at all if he were right there on Sunday.
Tommy Fleetwood – He’s a threat to compete anytime he tees it up and he’s here this week.
Lucas Glover – This is my One and Done pick for this week. Lucas finished 7th here last year and he is in top form this week. If he keeps the hot putter going I think he’ll have a chance to win this week.
Good luck with your selections and don’t forget to stay close to our Golf Blog during this 2019 season, especially next week for the Players.
Greg Norton is a senior golf writer for Wannamakeabet.com