It’s time to turn the golf spotlight back on full intensity on the PGA Tour.
After last week’s event, The Honda Classic, featured just two of the top players in the world rankings in Sungjae Im and Billy Horschel, this one is all hands on deck.
That’s because this week’s tournament, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, is another designated event with a $20 million prize fund. The winner will pocket $3.6 million.
There’s more. The winner also receives a three-year exemption (rather than the usual two years for a majority of the Tour events) as well as 550 FedEx Cup points. Pretty good incentives for Tour players to tee it up.
There will be 44 of the top-50 players in the world rankings this week bidding to take the title away from defending champion Scottie Scheffler. We’re betting it’s going to be one of those top-ranked players picking up the title. That’s because of one factor: In events with this much on the line, the cream rises to the top.
Well, most of the time. Over the last dozen or so years the only winner who wasn’t a household name was Matt Every, who won the tournament in back-to-back years (2014 and 2015). Otherwise it’s names like Tiger Woods (no, he’s not in the field), Bryson DeChambeau, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, and the like.
Big tournaments bring out the best in the big guns. We’re betting this week is no different with, maybe, one exception.
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Odds to Win Arnold Palmer Invitational
As always, shop around the sports betting industry for the best odds on your plays.
Tough Not to Back Scottie Scheffler
When you look at golf tournaments, it’s always a safe bet to look at who is hot and who has had success in the upcoming tournament. Scheffler, at an inviting +1000 this week, checks off both of those boxes quite nicely.
Scheffler is the defending champ at Arnie’s event, and he’s coming in off a recent victory. That win wasn’t just any victory, as he repeated as champion in the WM Phoenix Open. He subsequently wound up T-12 in the Genesis Invitational, which was won by Jon Rahm (the favorite this week at +650).
We’re going to focus on Scheffler because he’s got a title to defend and, with Rahm winning the Genesis, he fell down to No. 2 in the world rankings. Since the start of the current wraparound season, Scheffler has teed it up in eight events with his victory as well as a second in the Hero World Challenge.
By the numbers, he’s been as solid as any player can be when you’re going up against 140-plus competitors each week. He’s got five top-10 finishes in that run along with two others just outside the top-10 (a T-11 and the T-12) last week.
The only semi-blemish on his record is a T-45 in his season-opening event, the CJ Cup played last October. In other words, he’s going to be in the picture. Bet on it.
Max Homa’s Worthy of a Win Bet
There are more and more players looking to cement the fact they belong in the elite status when it comes to talking about PGA Tour players.
Max Homa, at +1800 this week, is one of those players. He’s won two times this year on Tour and has got to be looking for redemption from a heart-wrenching loss two weeks ago to Rahm at the Genesis.
Homa was looking to go back-to-back and came up a couple of swings short. But he was right there, and he’s playing well. If it wasn’t for Rahm’s amazing run (more on that in a minute), Homa would certainly be in the conversation when it comes to top players this year.
As it is, it’s Rahm, Scheffler, McIlroy and others. Here’s Homa’s chance to take Rahm down, win for the third time, and get the respect he deserves.
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Can Rahm Keep up Torrid Pace?
We’re not betting against Rahm winning this week; we’re just not going to bet on him.
There’s no doubt he can win. Rahm is coming into this tournament of a victory in the Genesis Invitational. Like the rest of the big names, he skipped last week and all of those players should be rested and ready to go.
With his victory, Rahm wrestled the No. 1 spot away from Scheffler. Now, he’s got to keep up his pace to stay in that spot, and therein lies the problem. Rahm has only played in this event once and that was last year when he wound up T-17.
Now that may or may not be a factor with as hot as he’s been. He’s won five times in his last nine outings worldwide including three times on the PGA Tour in this calendar year. But we’re going to factor in his lack of course knowledge (not a big deal in 2023 with all of the ways players can round up information about layouts) and stay away from him winning this week.
Now, as we’ve done many times in the past, we reserve the right to admit we were wrong at a later date.
Around the Prop Scene
We’re going to go with two players to have top-20 finishes. They are on our “Oldies but Goodies” list of players who, given their past performances, always have a chance to play solid enough to finish on the first couple pages of the leaderboard.
Check out Aaron Baddeley at +800 and Stewart Cink at +900. Both have had sparks of magic in their games and know their invites to these special events may be running out without solid finishes.
With this field, a victory may not be in the cards, but either or both can certainly hang with the world’s best to get a top-20 finish.