Arnold Palmer Invitational First-Round Leader Tips: Carry on Kirk

American Chris Kirk
Last week's winner Chris Kirk can keep the momentum going

The PGA Tour stays in Florida for the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Dave Tindall has three each-way bets to be first-round leader at Bay Hill...

  • 50/1 Chris Kirk is on cloud nine and loves Bay Hill

  • 50/1 Sahith Theegala is an in-form fast starter

  • 50/1 Rickie Fowler is coming back to his best

  • Weather forecast for Thursday: Winds really gets up later in the week, especially Friday, but for the opening round they're locked in at around 10-12mph for most of the golfing day. Perhaps the very early starters will have it lighter than that for a while. Temperatures rise to the early 90s from about 1pm.

    History has seen a pretty even split in terms of who's provided the leader. Rory McIlroy won this market from his morning tee-time last year but was an afternoon starter when sharing FRL honours with Corey Conners in 2021.

    Kirk can fly high again

    What's the most likely thing to happen to Chris Kirk after he ended his eight-year wait for a PGA Tour win in dramatic style at last week's Honda Classic?

    It's easy to indulge in cod psychology and blurt out 'mental let-down' and maybe it will be the case that his focus will be insufficient to do much this week.

    But there's another scenario that says he rides the wave of confidence and bursts out of the blocks at Bay Hill.

    And why not? Kirk won on a tough Florida track last week and that's the deal again this week.

    What's more, Kirk is a big fan of this par 72. He made the top five last year and that was the American's fifth top 15 in his last six appearances at Arnie's event.

    Back Chris Kirk each-way @


    They haven't always been fuelled by fast starts but he was 11th after 18 holes last year and has broken par on day one in each of his last four visits.

    More recently, Kirk was first-round leader at the Sony Open thanks to a 64 and he again topped the Thursday charts at Colonial last year.

    Let's back the 50/1 shot to come out hot from his early 07.49 tee time.

    Sahith to shine

    I went for Sahith Theegala in my outright preview and I'm happy to back him again in the FRL market.

    Theegala has carded three 66s and a 67 in his last six openers so is a proven fast starter.

    With five top six finishes already this season - only Jon Rahm has more top 10s - the 25-year-old is playing some superb golf.

    He hasn't competed much in Florida but on his last visit he started out with a 67 in the Valspar Championship where he finished seventh.

    Back Sahith Theegala each-way @


    On a tough course like this, it makes sense to look for the in-form players and Theegala has the game and stats to hit the ground running.

    He may also get the lighter winds for a while from his 07.16 tee time.

    Fowler can flourish

    I'll complete a trio of 50/1 shots by putting up Rickie Fowler.

    Fowler has ended day one in second (2011) and fourth (2018) in past Arnold Palmer Invitationals and even during his times of struggle he's always made the cut at Bay Hill.

    But just maybe those lean years are behind him after a run of five top 20s so far this season, his last three starts yielding finishes of 11th, 10th and 20th.

    Back Rickie Fowler each-way @


    He's been in the top six after the opening lap twice already this season and, in his pomp, was leader (2017) and second (2019) after round one at US Opens.

    With Butch Harmon helping Fowler look the real deal again, this looks a good place to see him make an early impact from his 12.39 tee time.

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