2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational Betting Preview


With a majority of the field taking last week off, many return to competition for this week’s tournament, the Arnold Palmer Invitational (API). Like the Genesis Invitational, the API is an elevated status tournament, which means the field is slightly smaller than a regular PGA event and the purse is larger.  Along with that, there are a few different rules as to who qualifies for the invitational, but most of golf’s biggest names are in attendance.  


It has been seven years since Matt Every won back-to-back tournaments here and nine years since Tiger Woods won the event for an eighth time. There’s a list of recognizable champions ranging from last year’s Bryson DeChambeau to Tyrrell Hatton, Francesco Molinari, Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, and Jason Day.  It is a deep field with a large purse (12 million this year) which attracts the biggest and best stars of the game with their full attention. 

Arnold Palmer Invitational Outright Selections

Bay Hill Club and Lodge

  • Par 72
  • 7,422 yards
  • Driving Distance Par 4/5s (DD) | 283 yards
  • Driving Accuracy (DA) | 65%
  • Greens in Regulation (GIR) | 60%

Strokes Gained composition from top 50 sg total performances previous five years

I decided to look at these scores to see what the makeup was for the best scores at Bay Hill. This is not a purely course fit exercise.

  • Off-the-tee (OTT): 23%
  • Approach (APP): 39%
  • Around the green (ARG): 12%
  • Putting (PUTT): 26%

The par 3’s at Bay Hill all average above par, with #2 and #17 playing as two of the most difficult holes on the course. The long par 3’s mixed with the courses forcing a few layups off the tee, golfers typically face quite a few long-iron shots during a round, bringing out a skill we don’t see frequently on many other courses part of the PGA Tour schedule. 

As we can see from the composition of strokes gained stats, the most successful golfers over the last five years have leaned heavily on their ball-striking, which makes up 60% of the total, relying mostly on approach play.  Last year, DeChambeau put on a clinic with the driver, gaining just over seven total strokes over the tournament off the tee. But in the top 50 scores, only three times did a golfer gain over five total strokes driving for the week. 

Although around the green doesn’t make up a large portion of this metric, judging by the green in regulation numbers (60%), golfers will potentially be faced with a fair amount of scrambling. However, outside of chipping in, it can be hard to gain a lot of strokes in this department. It never hurts to have some touch around the greens, because leaving chip shots in the rough is a possibility. But it’s not something I’ve seen to be a huge advantage over the years here. In reality, rarely is around the green anything more than the bottom of the strokes gained stats, but being a great scrambler can prevent bad rounds when a golfer isn’t firing on all cylinders in other departments. 


As for the ball-striking, driving in particular, distance is a larger advantage here, although for how long the course is, there are a handful of holes (4-5) where a majority of the field clubs down and hits less than driver off the tee. The rough can also be troublesome as shown in scoring relative to par and the GIR numbers from the fairway and rough. This combination of length and penal rough leads Bay Hill to be one of a handful of courses in which accuracy and distance can be a larger advantage than usual. It is similar to TPC Scottsdale in this way, where a golfer can gain an advantage through either, but distance remains the larger advantage. 

Jon Rahm leads the market around +800 and will be making his first appearance at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and his game suits about anywhere. You would think he would play here more often, but Rahm is not a frequent flier to the Florida swing outside of The PLAYERS. McIlroy has played extremely well at Bay Hill over the years, although his lone victory took a herculean effort on the greens to lift the trophy back in 2018.  The form is there, but the market numbers are too low for me to entertain, and although Scheffler is also an intriguing wager, I’ll be starting with Viktor Hovland at 18/1. 

The young Norwegian rivals Rahm in terms of ball striking, using power and precision off the tee, both of which are an advantage at Bay Hill. He has played this tournament three times, and although I would have expected better outcomes, he has made the cut each trip but found himself finishing outside of 40th each time. That was mainly due to short-game woes. We know he struggles around the green, and I find that to be the least important trait to success at Bay Hill. His impeccable driving and iron play will have to do the heavy lifting. He bounced back nicely after a missed cut in Phoenix to finish T4 at the Genesis Invitational, not able to make up ground on record-setting early rounds by Joaquin Niemann. His putting has seemed to improve over time, regularly gaining strokes more than losing, leaving the scrambling as the major leak in his skill set. On average, GIR numbers at API are around 60%, the hope is his superior iron ball striking will put him in a position to hit a higher number than average, removing chances to blunder around the green. 

Depending on the book, my next selection is only a few positions down the board with Matthew Fitzpatrick 29/1. Fitzpatrick has taken the accuracy road to success off the tee at Bay Hill in the past, with three straight T10 finishes at the course, including a second place in 2019. He is long enough with the driver when paired with above-average fairway-finding to habitually gain strokes at any course, and it’s his second-best skill to his putting. To be one of the best putters in the world and a great driver of the ball is a unique combination and is the reason many have been left wondering why he has yet to lift a trophy on the PGA Tour. His approach play is the culprit, often hovering around average ability, but it is nice to see the two events he has played this season he gained over one stroke per round in each (Pebble Beach and WMPO) finishing T10 and T6. If he can string together some solid rounds with his irons, there is no reason he can’t be pushing for a win come Sunday. 


Skipping past the middle of the board, there are plenty of names I could talk myself into, but the number being offered doesn’t match close to what I would want to be backing, which leads me all the way to Cameron Young 100/1. I feel I’ve been backing Young all season, and he continues to impress coming off of a T16 at the Honda Classic. It was an up-and-down tournament for him, and I imagine he will feel a bit more comfortable at Bay Hill, getting to take more advantage of his driving abilities. I think it’s a big ask to come and win this event, and it’s the seventh-straight week he’s played. Burnout is a concern, but at 100/1, worry of fatigue won’t stop me from backing. The skill set he possesses will suit the long course and thick rough, and we have seen during his short stint with shot-tracker he’s a more than capable putter. The better wager could be waiting to see where his T20 and T40 numbers fall, but I can’t pass up the triple digits at a course that will allow him to use his full complement of skills. The sample size is still small, but we’re pushing 40 rounds with shot-tracking data which I feel is enough to make solid assumptions about his current abilities. 

The last golfer I am backing in this field will be Thomas Pieters 130/1. The golfing world was happy to see him win in the Middle East and find his way back inside the top 50 OWGR, which is why he will again be making an appearance in a PGA Tour event. He missed the cut at Genesis in ugly fashion, having struck the ball rather horridly, but I try not to let two rounds skew much of what I think of a golfer. The best part of his game has always been tee-to-green, which was the case in 2021 and early in 2022. Pieters has not played this event since 2017, missing the cut, and he has a 76th in his only other visit. Since then, his driving (sg ott) and short game has improved. Hopefully that leads to success at a course that seems to be a solid fit for his skill set. Put it all together with the form we have since last September, and I make his number closer to 100 and will roll the dice on the Belgian. 

For all of my other picks (matchups, positional, groups, props, etc.) please check out our PGA Bet Tracker and use code AXIS for 20% off if you’re not already a premium subscriber! 

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