Arnold Palmer Invitational: Rose can be king of the Hill

Justin Rose boasts a strong record at his local course Bay Hill
Justin Rose boasts a strong record at his local course Bay Hill

Dave Tindall brings us his analysis and tips for this week's PGA Tour event in Florida - the Arnold Palmer Invitational...

"In his last four appearances there, Rose has finished runner-up in 2013 (he came second to eight-time winner Tiger Woods, who was virtually unbeatable at Bay Hill) and also third in 2011."

Main bet: Back Justin Rose @ 17.016/1

Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 5 places


Main bet: Back Justin Rose e/w @ 16/1


Justin Rose has been slightly on the margins this season but he looks close to a big week and this could be it.

The Englishman has started previous campaigns slowly and that appeared to be the case when he missed the cut on his 2016 opener at Torrey Pines.

But since then Rose has finished T6 at Pebble Beach, T16 at the Northern Trust Open and T17 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. He finished off the latter with a 5-under 67, the second best round of the day in difficult Sunday conditions.

Plotting his progress this season, he said at Riviera last month: "I think this season, I'm really encouraged with a lot of aspects of my game. Driving the ball really, really well. Short game and putting have been really good, as well. So my strength is normally my iron play. So hopefully that will click into gear soon."

Well, it did. Rose was 2nd for Greens In Regulation in the Northern Trust and then kept it going by finishing 9th for GIR at Doral last week.

The problem in the Cadillac was his putting, not the stroke but his reading of the greens.

"The greens have fooled me all week," said Rose. "They look quick but they are really not. The amount of times I had a downgrain-looking putt and I would leave it short in the middle."

Rose has struggled on the Blue Monster at Doral since it was revamped so it's noticeable that his T17 was a marked improvement on the T55 he managed in 2015 and 2014's T34.

The T16 was his third best finish in 10 starts at Riviera while a T6 on debut at Pebble was impressive.

In short, Rose looks close to putting it all together if he can find the right course.

Bay Hill might just be that course.

In his last four appearances there, Rose has finished runner-up in 2013 (he came second to eight-time winner Tiger Woods, who was virtually unbeatable at Bay Hill) and also third in 2011. He banked another top 10 there back in 2006.

Rose lives nearby and said three years ago: "Yeah, I think it does make a difference. I have played well in Orlando in the past. I've had decent showings here at Bay Hill in the past, and I always felt like I played quite well at Disney. Nothing better than sleeping in your own bed."

And after finishing second to Tiger in 2013, he said: "The Orlando crowd have been really good to me. I felt like there was a lot of good will for me out there. It's always nice to play at home."

It's a competitive top end of the leaderboard but I'm happy to take Rose (16/1) at double the price of the admittedly very hot Adam Scott.

Rory looks short enough at 5/1 while Jason Day is traditionally poor in Florida. Henrik Stenson isn't quite on it either having not broken 70 in his last eight rounds.

Rose has a win and 10 other top fives on his Florida CV down the years so has rewarded each-way backers numerous times in the Sunshine State.


Next best: Back Marc Leishman e/w @ 50/1


These are heady times for Australian golf.

Adam Scott has just won back-to-back on the PGA Tour while, in Europe, three of the last four winners were Aussies - Marcus Fraser in Malaysia, Scott at the Cadillac and Scott Hend in Thailand on Sunday.

So how about Marc Leishman throwing another win on the celebration barbie in Florida this week?

Leishman has already posted a victory on the current European Tour season when landing December's Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.

In America, he posted T28 in Hawaii but then struggled by missing the cut at La Quinta and Torrey Pines. However, in his last two starts he's banked a top five in the Northern Trust Open in California and added a T28 in the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

What promotes him to the front of my mind this week is that his current stats look a good fit for Bay Hill.

A very high birdie count has been a big key to winning here and Leishman is 13th in Birdie Average and 8th in Birdie or Better Conversion Percentage.

Also 19th in Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green and 8th in the All-Around Ranking, Leishman has had positive Strokes Gained: Putting figures in his last three events.

Assessing his own game, he said at Riviera: "I saw a coach on the Saturday of Torrey Pines, actually. We found something, I was aiming left. So I felt like I was only hitting pulls or a thin right shot but my pulls were actually a good shot so that's right where I was aiming.

"Maybe it was a blessing in disguise to miss that cut and do a bit of work on the range with Denis. He picked it up straight away and I started hitting the ball great pretty much instantly."

As for previous course form, Leishman has a previous third place form 2011. That's his standout performance although he played well on the weekend two years ago, jumping 35 spots to T31 while he was T17 with a round to go in 2012 before fading.

For a man who lost a play-off at The Open Championship last summer, has a win just over three months ago, a top five two starts ago and a top three at the course, the 50/1 looks a playable price.

And, who knows, there may just be a little bit of inspiration from watching all those wins for his compatriots.


Top 10: Back John Huh @ 8/1


In this event, it often pays to look at players who are showing good form already on the Florida Swing so how about John Huh.

The American was T14 at the Honda Classic after closing with a 66 and was 9th (just four back) going into the final round of last week's Valspar Championship before finishing T22.

And, make no mistake, those two performances didn't come out of the blue.

At the end of January, Huh was T8 in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and the week after he posted T6 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Go back to last year and since November's RSM Classic he's made the top 25 in six of his last eight PGA Tour starts. Three off those are top 10s.

At Bay Hill, his bare form of T55-T27-T73 looks a bit average but that middle result needs some attention.

Huh was second after R1, third at halfway and second going into the final 18 holes after shooting rounds of 67-69-71.

It went horribly wrong on the final day when he ballooned to an 80 but it's clear he can play this course.

A winner of the Mayakoba Golf Classic on just his fifth PGA Tour start, Huh went on to win Rookie of the Year in 2012.

He's dropped off the radar a little since then but this is a guy who was T11 on his Masters debut in 2013 and also banked a pair of top three finishes in 2014.

With all his current good form, you'd expect him to have some decent stats and, although nothing leaps off the page, he's 35th in Strokes Gained: Total and 23rd in Scoring Average.

In his current form he deserves respect and given that he's posted three of them in his last eight starts - 6th, 8th and 9th - I'm going to back Huh for a top 10 at 8/1.

At shorter prices, Ryan Moore is another top 10 candidate.

His last seven finishes read: 3-10-MC-11-10-43-10 so he's in one of the most consistent spells of his career.

Moore was fourth at Bay Hill in 2012 and T12 in 2011 so the numbers are there for a top 10 punt at 3/1 but Huh's figures aren't far behind so I prefer JH at 8/1.

Dave's 2016 P/L (based on £5 e/w per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £290
Returned: £257
P/L: -£33

(After Valspar Championship)

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