PGA Preview: Arnold Palmer Invitational

A new week and the Florida Swing keeps on swinging.

The Course:  Bay Hill Club & Lodge

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The Bay Hill Club will host the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The course is 7,381 yards long and is a par-72. The course was one of the easiest courses on tour last season, however, that could change this year. The forecast will call for storms and the weather could play a factor. The wind has tormented players in recent weeks so moving inland a bit is welcomed by the PGA Tour. The course underwent several changes last year. Seven holes averaged a score under par last season.

Storylines:

  • Adam Scott comes in looking for his third straight win this weekend.
  • Matt Every is looking for his 3rd consecutive win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
  • Plenty of stars are in the field and everyone is looking to get a win under their belt before they travel to Augusta, GA for the Masters.
  • Jason Day has been very quiet so far this season and it would be nice to see him play well in a big event. He was dominant towards the end of the season last year, however, he’s been unable to contend so far this season. I picked him to have a down year and so far that’s what it appears to be for Day. He’s seemed uncomfortable with his swing and the expectations are very high.

Levi’s Picks

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The rules for picks are the same as usual. I’m fortunate that the OWGR are steady and that a few players are poised to be picked. I’m going to take Rory McIlroy (#3), Adam Scott (#6), Justin Rose (#8), Paul Casey (#26), Ryan Moore (#45) and Smylie Kaufman (#50).

McIlroy seems like an obvious choice and he’s had success here before. He was the best player in the field for 63 holes at the WGC-Cadillac. I think McIlroy stands a strong chance if he’s able to putt well. Scott has won his last two starts and I’m not sure anyone should be more confident than Scott right now. He’s leading the PGA Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green and he can dominate the par 5’s. Rose finished T-6th last year and I thought he finished strong in his previous events. I think he’s going to have really play well this week. I don’t think he’s given enough credit for just how solid is game is.

Paul Casey is a great ball-striker and ranks highly in greens hit in regulation. Casey is also an excellent putter and has performed well in Florida. It’s difficult to figure out Casey at times and he’s never reached the heights that some thought he might earlier in his career. He’s only won once on the PGA Tour, however, he’s got 13 wins on the European Tour. Smylie Kaufman is from Alabama and played his college golf at LSU. He’s been playing well and won twice in 2015. He’s also got one of the more unique names I’ve heard. I’ll let you decide if it sounds pretentious or not because I’m only concerned with its originality.

Finally, Ryan Moore is scoring well on just about every hole this season. He’s done well on par-3’s and par-4’s and has been hot lately. I remember when Moore won the U.S. Amateur, NCAA Championship and U.S. Amateur Public Links in 2004. He was one of the most successful amateur players in recent memory and earned his place on the PGA Tour without going to Q-School (at the time only four players had done so). Moore has won 4 PGA Tour events and made plenty of money. He is, however, somewhat of a disappointment given his incredible amateur success.

The Winner: Rory McIlroy

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I typically try not to go against momentum and Adam Scott has been sensational. I just don’t know if a guy is going to win three times in a row. I think it’s more likely that he has a good performance and contends on Sunday. I think it would be unlikely that Scott wins again. McIlroy was poised to win in his last start and he hit the ball poorly down the stretch. I think a win for McIlroy would be huge and reaffirm his new putting method. He also needs the win to set himself up for a run at the Masters to take back the top spot in the OWGR. I don’t think (and every elite player is this way) he feels that Spieth is a superior player. McIlroy’s power is a huge advantage and this week will be on a course where power will be important (four par-5’s).

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