Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. However, 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 select 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.
Last week was the only non-elevated field event out of a series of five spanning California to Florida, and even the Honda Classic gave us a dramatic playoff finish. That Chris Kirk (+6500 this week) won at PGA National in the neighborhood of 30/1 solidifies a harsh new reality for punters this season.
The elevated events operate similarly to major championships, with the winner very likely to come from near the top of the board. The chances of the top tier falling to a lesser player get smaller and smaller the more elite players you add, and the books have shown they are happy to price as many golfers under 25/1 as they need to. We have to recalibrate what we consider value. With a headliner leading our card, we have to find longer plays to balance our card and manage bankroll this week.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational is a fitting addition to the elevated ranks, with a challenging, complete test at Bay Hill Club & Lodge on hand. Driver is the most important club in the bag this week, but in truth, there's no room for weakness here.
For more info on Bay Hill Club & Lodge, along with this week's key stats, check out Brandon Gdula's primer. All golf odds come from FanDuel Sportsbook.
At The Top
Rory McIlroy (+950) - McIlroy surely sees his compadres at the top of every market taking turns winning the first two elevated events and has Bay Hill circled as his shot to join them. Jon Rahm (+700) finished T17 in his only trip here, while Scottie Scheffler (+950) has a T15 in 2020 and a win here last year. Neither gives Rory anything close to a run for his money when it comes to course history -- he has finished inside the top 15 seven times, including a win in 2018. McIlroy has been in great form to start the year, though a bit unlucky on the greens. He is in the top 10 in all three tee-to-green metrics and 2nd overall in the catch-all strokes gained: tee-to-green stat, but he ranks 171st on Tour this season in strokes gained: putting. At a course where he's always rolled it well, this is the week Rory takes his turn atop the mountain.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (+3600) - Fitzpatrick has always challenged at Bay Hill, with four straight top-10s here since his runner-up in 2019. He's on offer this week following a poor stretch of form on the West Coast that includes missed cuts in two of his three events. Like McIlroy and many other PGA Tour professionals, Fitz lives in Jupiter, Florida and gets a home game here on his favored Bermuda grass. The record speaks for itself, but one of the reasons he has risen to the occasion at the API is the difficulty. As he showed in his U.S. Open victory last season, Fitzpatrick shines when the conditions get tough, and Bay Hill rarely yields a cumulative score lower than minus-15, and two of the last three years were minus-5 and minus-4.
Sam Burns (+4800) - Speaking of golfers who prefer Bermuda grass, Burns arrives in Florida off a missed cut at the Genesis Invitational spoiling a couple of good starts out west. He was T11 and T6 at the American Express and WM Phoenix Open, respectively, and it's been that kind of season so far for Burns. Putting it well but not striking it up to his standards, it's not surprising to see such a wide disparity in finishes. He is perfectly capable -- Burns ranked inside the top 30 in strokes gained: approach each of the last two seasons -- but so far the irons have not been clicking. He ranks 170th in approach this year. He is due for regression, and a comfortable environment in the Southeast and plenty to prove in these strong fields make this a weekend we can maximize return.
Tommy Fleetwood (+7000) - Another Englishman accustomed to difficult conditions, Fleetwood has done well at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in years past even when not playing up to his peak elsewhere. For all his accomplishments overseas and his near misses at major championships, Fleetwood has never won on the PGA Tour. The same was true for Tyrrell Hatton (+3600) before, but he won this event in 2020, and Fitzpatrick's U.S. Open win last year was his first official PGA win, too. These grinders are not as well suited to the week-in, week-out birdies fests the American golfer thrives on, and the API is one event where the playing field is leveled. Fleetwood's last five years at Bay Hill have been T20, T10, cut, T3, and T26.
Billy Horschel (+9000) - One of the runners-up to Scheffler last year, Horschel stumbled to a final round 75 last year and let this one slip by. He's played well enough to retain his top-20 ranking in the Official World Golf Ranking despite some mediocre efforts to start the season. But back in Florida should be a different story, and this Florida Gator is far from intimidated in a loaded field. He's become a consistent winner in big events, including the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, the BMW PGA Championship (on the European Tour), and the Memorial last year. He's also won a Tour Championship and gone toe-to-toe in playoff events besides, and at 90/1, he's one of the best values on the board.