The PGA Tour heads to Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week, without the defending champion. After his now-iconic drive at the sixth hole last year and down to the wire win over Lee Westwood, Bryson Dechambeau has withdrawn from the API due to injury.
Fortunately, Bryson’s departure didn’t shake up the Arnold Palmer Invitational odds too much with several world elites at the top of the board including Rahm, Rory, Scheffler, and Hovland.
Let’s dig into the stats and find our best golf betting picks and predictions for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, set to tee off from March 3-6.
Arnold Palmer Invitational picks
- Kokrak (-105) over Horschel
- Matsuyama (-115) over Fitzpatrick
- Mitchell (-120) over Burns
- Cameron Tringale Top 20 (+250)
- Tom Hoge Top 20 (+350)
- Danny Willett Top 20 (+600)
Picks made on 3/1/2022 at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Bay Hill stats that matter
Bay Hill has the seventh-highest scoring average on Tour meaning it’s one of the hardest setups outside of majors. It's a club-down course with one of the lowest average driving distances on Tour, but bombers do have some advantage in the approach department due to the thick penal rough.
You also need elite accuracy and/or great scrambling to succeed at Bay Hill as it has the fifth lowest greens in regulation average of any PGA Tour course. We also know that long-approach is key at Bay Hill as many holes force long iron shots over 200 yards.
- Recent form.
- Ball striking.
- Florida Bermuda putting.
- Good drives gained, driving distance.
- Long approach proximity (200-225 yards).
Arnold Palmer Invitational matchup predictions
Jason Kokrak (-105) over Billy Horschel
Jason Kokrak is heating up and this feels like the last chance to grab good value on him for a while. He’s a bomber, his irons are solid, and he’s a better putter than people think. At the API, he only has two missed cuts with four top 10s over nine attempts. This includes an eighth-place finish last year when he gained 10 shots tee-to-green.
You’ll pay more juice on Billy Ho in this H2H due to the strength of his last four finishes but Kokrak has a huge advantage in the course history department and gains more strokes on difficult golf courses in general. Horschel missed the cut at the 2021 API and has only cracked the top 35 once in five starts since 2017. He also struggled around the greens at PGA National.
Hideki Matsuyama (-115) over Matthew Fitzpatrick
Hideki has not been great here but he’s never missed the cut either. Looking at his past performances at Bay Hill, it’s the putting that has hurt him while his tee-to-green stats were good enough to contend. He comes into the API with a putter that is actually pretty hot, gaining 3.5 shots on the greens in Phoenix and 7.3 strokes vs. the field at Sony.
Fitzpatrick has done everything but win at API and is getting near-elite treatment from the oddsmakers at 25/1 in the outright market (same as Hideki). However, we’re seeing the matchup juice on Hideki as an indicator of the Masters champion having a better week. Plus, Fitz might be depleted after stomach issues kept him out of the Honda.
Keith Mitchell (-120) over Sam Burns
Sam Burns may have the higher ceiling for his career but Keith Mitchell has a higher ceiling this week in our opinion. Burns comes in off of three missed cuts and it’s now been almost three months since his incredible run in 2021 ended. He’s been losing off the tee and on the greens.
Meanwhile, Mitchell is making big stacks in 2022 with four finishes inside the top 12 (and one missed cut at the Farmers). He gained multiple shots last week in all the important stats and it looks like Keith has really found something with this approach game compared to 2021. Plus, while both guys bomb it, Mitchell has been hitting almost twice as many ‘good drives’ over the last 12 rounds.
Arnold Palmer Invitational top finisher predictions
Cameron Tringale Top 20 (+250)
Tringale might be ready to win. He’s piling up great finishes out there and has a solid API record too. He’s 14th in this field in proximity with his long irons, 20th in the field putting on Florida Bermuda greens, and also checks the recent form box having just gained 5.2 shots on approach at Riviera. While he’s no bomber we like that his fairways hit and good drives gained numbers trending upward.
Tom Hoge Top 20 (+350)
In our model for this week, Tom Hoge is third in this field in approach, 37th in good drives gained, and 16th in bogey avoidance. He also has a history of very good ball-striking at Bay Hill.
Then in the recent form department, he ranks fifth in this field in scoring opportunities gained over the last 24 rounds. 3.5 to 1 is not a great number but it’s also an indicator of what the oddsmakers think Hoge is capable of.
Danny Willett Top 20 (+600)
Danny Willett has a decent record at API and we liked what we saw from him last week. His putter was bad but he gained more than 5 shots tee-to-green. The bad putting may have been a result of the transition to Florida Bermuda after not playing in the US since mid-November, and he still finished inside the top 50 at Honda.
So, it may only take a return to his baseline level of mediocre putting to get Willet inside the top 20 this week and 6/1 is quite generous if that’s all that needs to happen.