Arnold Palmer Invitational First Round Leader: Zoom in for Zach

American Zach Johnson
American Zach Johnson can take advantage of his early tee-time

Dave Tindall looks at the opening round at Bay Hill and has three picks to make a fast start...

"Johnson was 13th after 18 holes at TPC Scottsdale and third following the opening lap at last week's Honda Classic."

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places

Weather forecast for Bay Hill, Orlando: In terms of temperatures, they start at around 70 degrees which is okay and rise to just above 90 in the afternoon. However, the later starters could face winds at 20mph and above which is atypical for Bay Hill. There's still some wind in the morning but it'll be calmer for the very early starters.

First-round leader history:

2019 - 65 Rafa Cabrera Bello
2018 - 64 Henrik Stenson
2017 - 67 Emiliano Grillo, Matt Fitzpatrick
2016 - 66 Jason Day
2015 - 66 Morgan Hoffman
2014 - 62 Adam Scott
2013 - 65 Justin Rose
2012 - 66 Jason Dufner, Charlie Wi

Strategy: Of the 10 players listed above, five were morning starters and five headed out in the afternoon. But if there's no angle there, there does seem to be in the weather. It's always a little risky to put all the eggs in one basket but, with winds set to be lighter early on, I'll take the gamble and go for three with early tee-times.

Zach can strike early

With Bay Hill boasting super-fast greens and the wind set to blow, imagine having a player who had won both a US Masters and an Open Championship.

And, on top of that, wouldn't it be handy if they had an early tee-time, a recent history of fast starts and some strong course form.

Actually, such a player exists - Zach Johnson.

The double major winner heads out at 07:43 so hopefully gets the lighter winds.

While his bare form looks poor - MC, MC, 67 in the last three starts - it's been a very different story in round one.

Johnson was 13th after 18 holes at TPC Scottsdale and third following the opening lap at last week's Honda Classic.

Rewind back to November's Mayakoba and he was fourth after an opening 64. As for course form, he's racked up five top 10s and made 15 of 16 cuts. With plenty going for him, he's well worth a punt at 110/1.

Choose Charl

Another player who can thrive on fast greens is Charl Schwartzel, the US Masters winner in 2011.

The South African gave us a great run when tipped at 80/1 at last week's Honda Classic before stumbling on the back nine having tied for the lead.

Schwartzel was tied 11th after the first round and also tied 12th after Thursday's play on his previous start at Pebble Beach where he finished fifth.

He's been a sporadic visitor to Bay Hill and hasn't done much there yet despite making three of four cuts but he returns with confidence restored as he comes back from injury.

And teeing off in the very first three-ball from the 1st tee at 06:45 should give him the best of the conditions.

Back Schwartzel at 75/1.

Home in on Hoffman

Charley Hoffman isn't a Masters winner but he has made an impression at Augusta National and, notably, the American has done it on the first day.

In the last five years there, he's finished the first day in first, second, fourth, 13th and 21st.

If you want something better than correlatory evidence, he also likes a fast start at Bay Hill having finished in the top five in two of his last four appearances in the Arnold Palmer.

He's twice shot 66 there in the last two years and finished runner-up in 2017.

In terms of recent quick starts, Hoffman has twice sat fourth after round one this season, firstly in the CJ Cup and, more recently, at Pebble Beach two starts ago.

He tees off at 07:08 so hopefully can make an early impression at 150/1.

Staked: £240
Returned: £112.58
P/L: -£127.42

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles