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This week’s PGA Tour stop, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando, FL, is where the world’s top players shine.

Literally. As in…if you’re from the United States you’ve been out of luck at this event over the last few years.

Don’t believe us? Well, check out the leaderboards. It’s been top-heavy with a foreign flare.

In 2020, Tyrrell Hatton (England) won with Marc Leishman (Australia) second and Sungjae Im (South Korea) third.

Francesco Molinari (Italy) won in 2019 and was followed on the leaderboard by Matthew Fitzpatrick (England) and Rafa Cabrello-Bello (Spain).

Back in 2018, Rory McIlroy (Ireland) won with, gasp, finally an American, Bryson Dechambeau finishing runnerup. Third was Justin Rose (England).

You get the picture. The world comes to Arnie’s event and the world sits on top of the leaderboard. The last US winner? You’ve got to go all the way back to the 2015 event where Matt Every edged Henrik Stenson (Sweden) for the crown.

Odds To Win The Arnold Palmer Invitational

Rory McIlroy+900
Viktor Hovland+1100
Bryson DeChambeau +1200
Patrick Reed +1800
Terrell Hatton +2200
Matthew Fitzpatrick+2200

Will 2021 Be Different?

We’re thinking this year’s event has the chance to break the mold. But don’t look for it to be led by those atop the world rankings. World No. 1 (and by a large margin) Dustin Johnson isn’t playing. In fact, only three of the top 10 in the world are in the field but 27 of the top 50 will be playing. That means it’s a more wide-open event than a lot of other big-time tournaments.

And yes, this is a big-time event. Look at the purse ($9.3 million) and the winner’s share ($1.674 million) and you’ve got to wonder why the big names aren’t here.

But we’re still thinking this is the ideal year for a US player to get back in the winner’s circle which is why we are looking at three of them.

Momentum Is The Key This Week

Whether it’s how they are playing currently or how they have fared in recent years in this event, momentum means everything. And if you mix the two together the picture becomes a little clearer.

We’re going to go with someone we probably have no business picking: Billy Horschel at +3300. He’s a Florida guy and he plays this event every year. Sure he’s struggled recently at Bay Hill (T-36 last year, T-50 two years ago) but like other sports, when you get hot anything can happen.

And Horschel’s hot. He finished T-2 last week at the WGC-Workday event and has three top-five finishes in his last seven starts along with a T-7. Like we said, when you’re hot, you’re hot.

He also has five PGA Tour titles as well as the 2014 FedEx Cup title when he won two of the final four events in the playoff run. He also had a second in that stretch.

Add in the fact he’s right at home in Florida and we like his chances.

Other Players To Consider

As for a couple of other US players we like, look at the 10th-ranked player in the world: Bryson DeChambeau at +1200. DeChambeau won last year’s US Open for his first major but since then it’s been a mixed bag. He was T-34 at the Masters but finished T-7 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He then had a MC at The Genesis Invitational with rounds of 75-69. He opened last week with a 77 at the WGC Workday event before righting the ship and coming back with a 64 the next day. A T-22 finish has us optimistic.

Then there’s Jordan Spieth. At +2500 he’s still a longshot. And with good reason looking at his tumble to No. 62 in the world rankings. He’s struggled mightily but his recent play (two top-fives and a T-15) have given him, and bettors, hope. Were the past few events a fluke or has he found his swing and confidence again? This week will be a good test. He’s too talented not to get back in the winner’s circle. If he hasn’t given up on himself making a comeback, maybe bettors shouldn’t either.

About the Author
Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 18-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas including 10 years as a writer/editor with VegasGolfer Magazine. He also contributes to the GolfNow Network of websites and Las Vegas Golf Insider.

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