Arnold Palmer Invitational: Bubba to bounce-back at Bay Hill
Bubba Watson - Good value at Arnie's place this week
"There’s no doubt Bubba Watson is a bit of a liability in the mix and he’s certainly not one to steam into on the back nine on Sunday but he’s over-priced here from the start at [32.0]."
The Punter takes a look at this week's PGA Tour event, where Tiger Woods bids to win his seventh Arnold Palmer Invitational...
In existence since 1966 (when first played as the Florida Citrus Open), the event was floundering badly when Arnold Palmer took over and moved it to Bay Hill in 1979. The Arnold Palmer Invitational is the final leg of the Florida Swing this year and once again, it's attracted a high calibre field.
Bay Hill Club Lodge, Orlando, Florida
Par 72, 7,381 yards, stroke average in 2011 - 72.99
Ranked 8th of 51 in terms of difficulty on the PGA Tour last year, Bay Hill is a true test, where there is no hiding place. The finish is brutally hard with the last five holes, starting at the 14th, ranked 1, 2, 18, 6 and 3 in order of difficulty last year. The easy par five 16th is the only respite. Players struggled to hold their tee-shots on the par 3 17th green on the final day last year and the 18th, with water on approach to the green, is always really tough.
As per usual with a Florida track, the entire course is laid to Bermuda.
Live on Sky all four days, 7.00pm on Thursday and Friday, 5.00pm on Saturday and 6.00pm on Sunday.
Last Five Winners
2011 - Martin Laird -8
2010 - Ernie Els -11
2009 - Tiger Woods -5
2008 - Tiger Woods -18
2007 - Vijay Singh -8
Although the forecast doesn't look too bad this week, the winner here usually needs to be able to handle blustery conditions. Top-quality ball-striking is what gets the job done at Bay Hill. Length of the tee is a big asset and Total Driving is always a good stat to start from. Those that hit plenty of greens fare well too.
With six wins in total, Tiger Woods has been the boss at Bay Hill for many a year and at around [9.0] I wasn't anywhere near as ready to dismiss his chances as Ralph Ellis was. I can see Tiger contending and I can even see him winning but trying to catch him at single figure prices anywhere is now a costly game and in the end, like Ralph, I'm swerving him.
Phil Mickelson won here way back in 1997 and he's been placed a couple of times too but he hasn't managed a top-20 finish (from just four attempts admittedly) since his tied third ten years ago. Phil's always capable of winning, even when you don't expect him to, but I can't see his price of [16.0] being far out.
The only other player trading under [21.0] is Justin Rose. A winner just two weeks ago, Rose dropped away quite tamely last week after a bright start and although he has course form (tied 3rd last year and tied 8th in 2008) he makes no appeal to me at just [18.5].
Just two from the start for me this week and first up is a player I had down as one to swerve just two weeks ago! There's no doubt Bubba Watson is a bit of a liability in the mix and he's certainly not one to steam into on the back nine on Sunday but he's over-priced here from the start at [32.0].
Nerves got the better of him at the WGC Cadillac Championship a fortnight ago, as they had done here a year ago. He blew a three shot lead at the Cadillac and dropped away tamely, falling from third to 24th, here twelve months ago. He also co-led this event in 2008 with a round to go before dropping down to a tie for 8th.
Final day nerves aside, it's impossible to ignore his chances. He clearly has an aptitude for Bay Hill, is bang in form at present and he's capable of bouncing back...
His last PGA Tour victory came at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at the end of April, a little over a month after his final round flop here so Bubba has bouncebackability in abundance.
My only other pick is Sean O'Hair, who's played well here in the past - he finished runner-up to Tiger here in 2009 and was third the year before.
He hasn't done much since finishing tied second in Hawaii in January but he's one of those players that can suddenly spring into life from seemingly nowhere, as he did in Canada last July. He knows how to win and he's been in fair form at the Tavistock Cup over the last couple of days.
I'll be back tomorrow with my preview of this week's Race To Dubai event - the Trophee Hassan II.
Read More Golf
Our man takes a look at this week's US PGA Tour event, where we can expect windy tough conditions....
The Race to Dubai moves on to China this week, to yet another brand new venue. What will it take to shine at Binhai Lake Golf Club, where Steve's putting his faith in a pair of Pauls?...
Louis Oosthuizen overcame all sorts of obstacles to win the Maybank Malaysian Open and Carl Pettersson sauntered to victory in South Carolina but how did Steve fare with his wagers this week......
Our man takes a look at the state of play in South Carolina, where Jim Furyk has flopped in round two, and in Malaysia, where yet more delays have caused havoc......