Arnold Palmer Invitational
Bay HIll Club and Lodge, Orlando, 7,419 yards, par 72
Designed: Dick Wilson, 1961
Defending champion: Jason Day
Last week: Adam Hadwin captured the Valspar Championship in Tampa shooting -14.
Arnie passed away at 87 years old last September. "The King" won 62 PGA tour titles which included 7 majors, the 1958, '60,. '62 and '64 Masters, the 1960 U.S. Open, and the 1961 and '62 Open Championships. He tied for 2nd three times at the PGA Championship, in 1964, '68, and '70. He left an indelible mark on the game which will always be remembered.
Weather: Sunny throughout the weekend. Thursday, 64, Friday, 72, Saturday, 78, Sunday, 77. Winds 8-15 MPH throughout the weekend with the strongest gusts on Sunday at 12-15.
TV: Thursday-Friday: Golf Channel, 1-5 PM CT/2-6 PM ET;
Saturday-Sunday: GC, 11:30 AM-1:30 PM CT/12:30-2:30 PM ET
Saturday-Sunday: NBC: 1:30-5 PM CT/2:30-6 PM ET.
No. 16 511 yards, Par 5
The beginning of a 3 hole stretch that is one of the best in golf. A sure birdie possibility and a legitimate eagle shot. The drive is tight though with trees and rough on the right and water on the left. There is a massive amount of water at Bay Hill. A narrow, but long green is guarded by water on the left for errant pulls, and sand on the right. It's a pretty tight landing area for a player's approach, which is usually his second shot.
No. 17, 221 yards, Par 3
This is a good birdie opportunity as well, but can be treacherous too, and lead to an implosion for a contender on Sunday if he makes a mistake. A long tee shot from an elevated tee to a green that's surrounded by water on 3 sides with bunkers protecting the right side. The green is small by Bay HIll standards. While it can lead to birdies, it can also lead to 3 putt bogeys. If the player hits it into the massive trap in front of the green, he'll do well to get it up and down and avoid bogey. This hole will be high drama and pressure packed on Sunday and lead to one of the marquee holes in golf.
No. 18, 458 yards, Par 4
The hole looks pretty straightforward from the scorecard, but it' anything but that. It's a blind tee shot to a pretty wide fairway, so that's pretty doable. But the 2nd shot has an extremely high degree of difficulty. The large, wide green is fronted by rocks and a substantial lake that will require a long carry to get the ball to the right half of the green where the pin will be placed up front on Sunday. The bunkers on the left are for the pull hooks and the water and rocks in front of the green make for a highly difficult, precise shot by the pros to get it in birdeable range. There will be some serious electricity and excitement at the 18th on Sunday. I know the players will be sorry Arnie can't greet them at the end of their rounds, but he'll be there in spirit. Will be epic.
I'm going with the 27 year old from Salt Lake City to get it done at Bay Hill. I picked him earlier this year, I'm pretty sure at Torrey Pines, and it didn't work out, but I really believe in him as a possible elite player. He finished 5th last week at the Valspar Championship shooting a 64 on Sunday. He's long, and a tremendous putter. Like the young guy, who won the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, his only tour victory, to earn a huge victory at Arnie's place.