Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. But finding value is something all bettors must practice in order to give themselves the best chance to make hay when the day finally comes that they ping a champion.
Below, we will cover the best bets for the Arnold Palmer Invitational based on current form, course fit, and -- of course -- the value of their odds over at FanDuel Sportsbook.
We have another tough Florida track on hand this week, after a surprise finish at the Honda Classic saw Daniel Berger give up a huge final-round lead thanks to the devilish PGA National. Bay Hill Club & Lodge is another doozy, with a winning score of just 4-under par two years ago and winning scores of 12-under or lower four of the last five years. That's quite a feat for any par 72 in today's PGA Tour, and Bay Hill has been torture especially when the wind picks up.
Our key stat this week is performance in tough courses, for which we'll rely on Fantasy National Golf Club's classifications of "difficult" scoring relative to par. We'll also look to overall class in the field - aside from Matt Every's bizarre back to back in 2014 and 2015, this course is for the big boys and we can expect the winner to be a high caliber player who has won on the PGA Tour before, especially recently.
For more info on Bay Hill Club & Lodge, along with this week's key stats and comparable courses, check out the course primer.
At the Top
Jon Rahm (+850) - Rahm is the reigning king on difficult conditions, and his last three wins have come at events where his winning score was in the single digits. He was torching the field at the Memorial in 2021 before withdrawing with a positive COVID test, with the eventual leaderboard shaking out with just four players in double digits under par.
Muirfield Village is not a bad comp for Bay Hill, another long, tough test that requires all facets of the game. Rahm is the most complete player in the world right now, and over his last 50 rounds, he's first in the field in total strokes gained in general and in difficult conditions.
Sungjae Im (+2900) - Second to Rahm in that total strokes gained mark, and while he's been a bit inconsistent on difficult courses (44th), he's an absolute beast on those courses in Florida. A winner at PGA National and with finishes of 3rd, 3rd, and 21st in his first two trips to Bay Hill, Sungjae is built for this part of the schedule.
A win out west in the fall and four finishes of T11 or better since really stand out for him, and his growth over the past two years has been remarkable. We get a much better price off a missed cut at the Honda, and we'll gladly grab the value at 29/1. We can easily make room on our card for a Top Ten Finish (+300) in case he falls short to Rahm's brilliance.
Sam Burns (+4600) - After three straight missed cuts, Burns has the PGA Tour right where he wants it. His fall was crazy good, with a win in Jacksonville (bermuda alert!) and finishes of 15th at the Shriners, 5th at THE CJ CUP, and 7th at the Houston Open. He stunk out West, but the form we've seen over the past 18 months is too good to let a small sample skew us.
He putted well at Bay Hill in 2020 and 2019, gaining 4.6 and 7.2 strokes putting respectively, but simply couldn't do anything else well. Since that time he's become among the most complete players, and if he's not already a household name he should be. Still just 25 years old, Burns is a top 20 player in the world and has a shot to earn a spot on the Presidents Cup with a good season. A third win in the last year would put him in elite company and hard for Captain Davis Love III to keep out.
Max Homa (+4600) - Homa picked up another win this fall at the Fortinet Championship, but his breakthrough came at the long, challenging, Quail Hollow in 2019. He also finished inside the top 10 at the Genesis Invitational each of the past two years. Gnarly rough is a shared trait between those two big-time tracks and Bay Hill, and finishes of T24 in 2020 and T10 last year put
Homa well in our sights this week. He's a terrific golfer to bet on because he is inconsistent and has a wide range of outcomes. Someone like Rahm can ho-hum his way to a top 20, but Homa is just as likely to miss the cut as he is to truly contend any given week, and he maximizes his chances when his game is on.
Andrew Putnam (+16000) - In a year where big underdogs have pinged a number of events, with Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass coming up next week it is tough to expect a player outside the World's top 50 to have much of a shot, but we'll get wacky with one such play here in Putnam. He was fourth here last year and played well in windy conditions out West, highlighted by a sixth-place finish at Pebble Beach. if conditions are tough and the wind picks up, Putnam could sneak into the places and we like a Top 10 Finish (+1100).
Bonus Picks for the Puerto Rico Open
With an alternate field opposite the Arnold Palmer Invitational rather than a WGC or major this year, an even weaker field than normal heads to Coco Beach Golf and Country Club. Here are our quick hitters for the Puerto Rico Open.
Chad Ramey (+3300) - Good ball-striker off the Korn Ferry Tour has struggled against PGA competition but consistently beat KFT competition he'll face here. Top 20 in each of his last nine Korn Ferry Starts and another in the alternate field Bermuda this fall.
Chan Kim (+4100) - Consistent winner on smaller Tours is one of few in the field we won't be scratching our heads if they are in the Tournament of Champions field next January.
Chesson Hadley (+8000) - Hasn't done much against PGA Tour competition lately, but runner up at the Palmetto Championship and 13th at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship within the past year offer a glimmer of hope he can come through against inferior competition. Won this event in 2014.