Arnold Palmer Invitational: Euro duo are value up against Tiger

England's Justin Rose
Justin Rose has some strong form at Bay Hill

The PGA Tour stays in Florida for this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational and Dave Tindall has three bets for the showdown at Bay Hill where eight-time winner Tiger Woods heads the market...

"This is a venue where past course form seems to count for more than average and Rose has a second in 2013, a third in 2011, an eighth in 2006 and, most recently, T13 (2017) and T9 (2016) the last two years."

Main Bet: Back Justin Rose e.w. @ 14/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 7 places

Main Bet: Back Justin Rose e.w. @ 14/1

Presuming his form was decent, backing Tiger Woods at the courses where he's had most success would have seemed a decent strategy when he set out on his 2018 comeback.

However, it's gone so well that here we are at Bay Hill and he's just 6/1!

Yes, Tiger has won this event eight times and finished runner-up to Paul Casey at the Valspar Championship last week to frank previous good form of T12 at the Honda Classic and T23 at Torrey Pines. But 6/1?

It does seem incredibly short on first glance although think long enough, slowly piece together the logic, remind yourself that he's one of the greatest to have ever played the game and that he won five times in 2013 when his body last behaved properly and suddenly it isn't a nonsense price.

Sure, it would be fun to be on Tiger when he won again but I'll derive plenty of satisfaction from a Woods victory regardless.

Instead, head has to rule the heart and therefore it's time to take advantage of the slightly inflated odds on Justin Rose.

Tiger's 6/1 means Rose is a couple of points bigger than he would have been without the great man's revival and 14/1 looks very acceptable indeed.

The Englishman admitted he'd found the WGC-Mexico a hard event to make his comeback after more than a month off due to the altitude and pulling of funky clubs.

He started out at the Valspar hitting it sideways for a few holes but then reminded everyone what a great competitor he is by hanging in there and setting up a title challenge on Sunday.

The Ryder Cup star began the final lap just a shot back following a Saturday 66 but couldn't find the magic that had brought him three wins in five starts at the back end of 2017 and had to settle for T5.

It was still a strong week though and speaking ahead of his closer, Rose noted: "First couple days there's sketchy stuff tee to green, like my first round. And probably the most important round I played so far, hung in there and stuck with it. Very testing day.

"But to get in under par gave me something to build on. A bit more spot on with my approach play, hit a lot more good quality iron shots today. Felt comfortable with the putter. All in all, things are moving nicely.

"It's been a nice progression through Mexico and into this week. I didn't decide to play a round of golf after a month off. I wasn't initially going to play here. I felt it was important to play rather than week on, week off, and just kind of get some momentum going."

He certainly has that momentum now after his top five and Rose's past experiences at Bay Hill suggest another bold bid.

This is a venue where past course form seems to count for more than average and Rose has a second in 2013, a third in 2011, an eighth in 2006 and, most recently, T13 (2017) and T9 (2016) the last two years.

Having now played enough events, he's popped up at 11th on the Strokes Gained: Putting stats and if Rose is putting well he's a massive danger.

A win before his latest Masters challenge would be very welcome and watching compatriot Paul Casey finally get it done last week should add a little inspiration too.

Next Best: Back Alex Noren e.w. @ 28/1

Casey finally got it done last week while Rose and Sergio Garcia also crashed the top five.

At the previous Florida event, Alex Noren and Tommy Fleetwood were both heavily involved before finishing third and fourth respectively so Euros obviously deserve plenty of respect in the Sunshine State where many base themselves.

Rose is already on board and there are definite cases to be made for Tyrrell Hatton and Fleetwood, who were T4 and T10 respectively at Bay Hill last year. Fleetwood made the top 10 despite an opening 78.

Henrik Stenson has form here of MC-3-2-5-8-15 dating back from 2017 but it's his fellow countryman Noren, who takes my eye at a joint-industry-best 28/1.

The Swede hasn't been outside the top 21 in five starts on the PGA Tour this year, the highlights his unlucky play-off loss to Jason Day at the Farmers Insurance Open and that third spot in the Honda.

He closed with a 66 for T14 in the WGC-Mexico Championship last time.

At the Honda, Noren said: "I spend the winters like 15 minutes done the road from this place and it's got the same grass at The Bear's Club. So I'm used to the bermuda. We play a lot more in Europe and the Middle East and Asia where they have bermuda, but we're used to this. I almost like these greens more. They are very true."

That, to me, suggests Florida is a very likely destination for his first PGA Tour win and all those victories in Europe over the last couple of seasons - five since July 2016 - should stand him in good stead if he's in contention on Sunday.

He's had one previous start in the event and played all four rounds (T8 after round one) before falling to T49 and that should prove a solid and useful sighter.

On the stats, Noren is 21st in Strokes Gained: Putting, 8th in SG: Tee-To-Green and, notably, tied second in Par 5 Scoring Average.

Noren has been in the world's top 20 for 18 months now so a win in America is his next step.

Again, watching Casey putting a 'W' on the board for Europe last week is surely a good thing and I see no reason why the 35-year-old won't be part of the shake-up this week.

Down at 66/1, Matt Fitzpatrick has already had three visits to Bay Hill and improved each time from MC to T27 to T13. I'd just want to see a little more recent form though after recent early exits in Dubai and the Valspar.

Final Bet: Back Brian Harman e.w. @ 40/1

If you're playing well, have course form and are a top putter, it's time to make your way to the front of the queue for likely winners here.

Bay Hill has always rewarded those who roll it well on the slick greens and Brian Harman sits sixth for Strokes-Gained: Putting this year.

A tied fifth in the WGC-Mexico Championship on his latest start was the left-hander's sixth top 10 in nine starts and five of those are top fives so he's been a poster boy for each-way punters over the last four or five months.

His form at Bay Hill is a little odd as it can be split into three top 20s and three missed cuts. The good news is that he's posted T13 (2017) and T17 (2016) in the last two years so should approach this week with confidence after his trio of early exits from 2013-2015.

Harman returns to Arnie's event as the World No. 22 having been ranked outside the top 100 when he teed it up at Bay Hill 12 months ago.

As well as all those top fives, that rapid rise includes a victory in last May's Wells Fargo Championship and a big title challenge at the U.S. Open.

The 31-year-old is second for Greens In Regulation this season, 16th in Scrambling, 11th in Scoring Average, 14th in Birdie Average and also 14th in Par 5 Scoring Average.

There are four par 5s to go at this week so the last stat is a comforting one as it shows that Harman isn't getting left behind on the holes where brawn may be needed. He's showing there is more than one way to skin a cat and his results on a range of courses show how his game is working everywhere.

The 40/1 looks very acceptable for this top five machine.

At slightly lower odds, last year's winner Marc Leishman should take heart from the fact that it's not just Tiger that has defended this title successfully.

Loren Roberts did it in 1994/1995 and Matt Every showed that lightning could strike twice with back-to-back wins in 2014/15. Woods made a successful defence five times by the way.

Leishman could only manage T37 in a limited field in Mexico last time but he was T11 with 18 to play so his form could well be good enough.

A little further down, I'm also tempted by Jason Kokrak at 50s. He's making mincemeat of the par 5s right now, cracked the top 10 in the Valspar and has a couple of top six finishes in his five starts here.

Also, with seven payout places available, look out for Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who seems oblivious to jet-lag and has really caught the eye with back-to-back T6s in this event in the last two years. He's coming in off a win at an Asian Development Tour two weeks ago while he was T5 in the WGC-Mexico.

A final thought... after Casey and Phil Mickelson ended long victory droughts in the last fortnight, who is due this week? Charles Howell?!

Perhaps that idea just takes us back to the very start of the preview and Tiger.

Dave's 2017/18 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £520
Returned: £1060
P/L: +£540

(After Valspar Championship)

P/L: +£1179.89

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