Arnold Palmer Invitational Sleeper Picks and Predictions: Canadian in Contention

The second stop on the PGA Tour's Florida swing is a signature event at Bay Hill — the Arnold Palmer Invitational. While the big guns will be out in full force, our PGA sleeper picks zero in on some great ball strikers with plenty of value.

Mar 6, 2024 • 07:29 ET • 4 min read
Corey Conners PGA Tour
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Tour heads to majestic Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week. What is already a special event is made even more so by the fact this is the fourth Signature Event of 2024.

The small 69-player field always brings out the best golfers in the world and this year is no different. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler is back in action and is unsurprisingly sitting atop the Arnold Palmer Invitational odds board. He’ll be joined by headliners Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Viktor Hovland.

Whoever comes out on top come Sunday will need to bring their A-game as Bay Hill typically plays as one of the toughest courses on the PGA Tour. And that could mean there is golf betting value further down the board. 

So, I deep dive into the golf odds and bring you my favorite longshot free golf picks for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational sleeper picks

Picks were made on March 5 at 6:00 p.m. ET.

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2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational and Bay Hill Club & Lodge key stats

Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill is no joke. It plays as one of the toughest courses on Tour year in, year out. Bay Hill is a par 72 that comes in at 7,466 yards. It has thick rough and water hazards on most holes. Culminating in hard Bermuda grass greens.

Over the last five years, the winner at Bay Hill has been an average of 8.2 strokes under par and has finished single-digit strokes under par in three of those five years.

Simply put, Bay Hill is hard.

But more than that, it is still a shot makers course. Setting yourself up well off the tee is paramount to make difficult approach shots as easy as possible. The hard greens also mean no messing around. Finding them in regulation will go a long way to having success this weekend.

Golfers will also have to take advantage of the scoring opportunities when they are presented them. And when this challenging course does give them trouble, how good are they at getting out of tricky situations? Experience at Bay Hill can also help in that sense.

That said here are the stats I am putting value in this week:

  • Strokes gained: tee-to-green
  • Strokes gained: approach
  • Greens in regulation
  • Par 5 scoring
  • Scrambling

2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational sleeper predictions

Sungjae Im to win outright (+6,500)

It seems a little crazy that Sungjae Im can be considered a longshot but that just tells you the state of his game right now.

Here are the 25-year-old South Korean’s last five results: Cut, T66, T66, T44, Cut. Not good, but at +6,500 I can’t stay away.

While Im is struggling at the moment, there is no doubt he is an excellent ball striker. He hasn’t finished a year ranked worse than 31st in total strokes gained in each of the last five seasons. So, to see him ranked 118th is a little jarring.

Luckily for Im, even a tough course like Bay Hill is a place where he can get back on track. His recent results at the Arnold Palmer Invitational have been excellent. He has not finished worse than T21 here each of the last five seasons and has two third-place finishes. As a result, he ranks seventh in this field in true strokes gained at Bay Hill.

Im has also still been solid on and around the greens this year, ranking above the field average in both strokes gained: putting and scrambling.

If Im can start finding some green in regulation, he’s got the experience at Bay Hill to be in contention here once again. Like I said, we just normally don’t get numbers like +6,500 with Im.

Pick: Sungjae Im to win outright (+6,500 at FanDuel)
Pick: Sungjae Im Top 20 (+175 at FanDuel)

Corey Conners to win outright (+6,000)

Hey, look. Another great ball striker with longer odds than we’re used to. For Corey Conners, it’s more of a case of not really doing anything spectacular this season.

It’s not like Conners is playing poorly, he just isn’t playing great. He’s made the cut in each of six starts this season, finishing T33, T57, T31, T28, T21, and T48. So, good, but not great. It feels like Conners is trending in the right direction.

He is coming off a final round 66 in last week’s Cognizant Open and six of his last 12 rounds have been in the 60s. Plus, he has some good stats in his favor. Conners ranks 22nd on Tour in Strokes Gained: tee-to-green and is fourth in greens in regulation. 

He also has a good history at Bay Hill. He finished solo third here in 2021 and has followed that up with a T11 and a T21 the last two years. Conners also ranks 11th in the field in true strokes gained here.

Conners’ ball striking will allow him to stay out of the trouble Bay Hill presents and keep close to the leaders this week.

Pick: Corey Conners to win outright (+6,000 at FanDuel)
Pick: Corey Conners Top 20 (+150 at FanDuel)

Emiliano Grillo to win outright (+10,000)

Can you guess the theme here yet? Yup. Another great ball striker with a solid course history at Bay Hill. And Emiliano Grillo may be playing the best of this trio.

Grillo has played seven events this season, making the cut in all seven. He has four finishes at T22 or better, including a T7 at the Sony Open and a T14 at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. 

The Argentinian ranks ninth in the field when it comes to true strokes gained at Bay Hill. He’s made the cut here in five of his six starts with the other being a DQ. His top finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational was seventh in 2017.

What has held Grillo back in the past has been his putter, but it looks like he has figured something out this season. Grillo ranks 19th on Tour this season when it comes to strokes gained: putting. 

If he can combine his newfound putt stroke with his ball-striking prowess at Bay Hill there’s the potential we could see him on the leaderboard come Sunday.

Pick: Emiliano Grillo to win outright (+10,000 at FanDuel)
Pick: Emiliano Grillo Top 30 (+105 at DraftKings)

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