No Love for Americans at Bay Hill – Arnold Palmer Invitational Preview

Honda Classic Recap: 

Total: 8-9 (+2.7 units) 

Full Tournament: 5-3 (+5.0 units) 

Round 1: 1-2 (-0.9 units) 

Round 2: 1-1 (+0.9 units) 

Round 3: 2-2 (+0.2 units) 

Round 4: 0-3 (-3.5 units) 

I’ll be the first to say, the Honda Classic left a little to be desired. It is never a good feeling when you go 3-0 (+6.0 units) on your best bets, only to lose more than half of it throughout the tournament. Going forward, I will be looking to hone in on specific matchups and limit exposure to others. 

As for the tournament, it had a little bit of everything. A first-time winner, drama down the stretch, and major talking points come Monday morning. It was an unfortunate Sunday for Tommy Fleetwood, not only letting the tournament slip through his fingers, but also having Paul Azinger (renowned Nobel Peace Prize Winner) ripping the European Tour, the lone Tour Tommy has been able to win on. 

This sent the golf-Twitter world into a frenzy. In Tommy’s corner, you had your old, grumpy pundits bring up the strength of fields, Ryder Cups, etc. But was Azinger all that wrong? Every player’s (American or International) dream is to play and eventually win on the PGA Tour, that’s a fact, and Tommy has not been able to do so yet. I don’t mind Azinger mixing it up a bit, even though he’s a budget version of Johnny Miller, so don’t go crying over some harsh words until the guy you’re backing can raise a trophy stateside.  

Arnold Palmer Invitational Preview

Onto the Arnold Palmer Invitational we go. Historically, this has been a stop on tour where Americans have struggled to find the winner’s circle. Since 2005, only two Americans have won here, Tiger Woods (4x) and … Matt Every (2x). This may be pure coincidence, but the guys I like this week just happen to be International. The key stats I’m looking at are: Shots Gained (SG) off the Tee, SG: Approach, and Proximity +200 yards (i.e., long iron play). I’ve been seeing snippets out in the interweb that they’ve grown the rough out this week, the greens are rolling, and the winds will be up, so expect it to be another grinding tournament with the winner finishing in the 12-under-par range. Let’s see if we can make it six best bets in a row.  

Lee Westwood (-1.5) (+105) over Phil Mickelson: 2.0 units 

I wrote about Lee in last week’s article and his performance at PGA National only solidified my feelings about the state of his game. Lee putted lights-out and turned a great performance on the greens into a T-4 finish. This has been the theme of Lee’s resurgence, and I look for it to continue at Bay Hill. As for Phil, it seems like he’s been too occupied “hitting bombs” and not hitting fairways. A good finish at the AT&T Pro-Am may fool the average golf fan, but once you dive into his numbers, they are rather bad. He is ranked outside the top-90 in almost every major statistical category, with, in my opinion, the most concerning being his putting (ranked 145th on Tour). I like this match up to be wrapped up come Friday evening, giving Phil the weekend off to hit some other type of bombs.  

Marc Leishman (+105) over Collin Morikawa: 2.0 units 

This match-up jumped off the board right away and has actually moved to +110 as I am writing this. In this duo, you’ll find two players who do the same thing really well (SG: Approach) and the same thing really bad (SG: Putting). However, the most impressive stat between the two is that Morikawa has yet to miss a cut in his young career. The love for Morikawa is well deserved, as he is one of the hot, young-guns on the Tour, but I find this number a bit disrespectful towards Leishman. Not only has he already won on Tour this year, and at Bay Hill in 2017, but Leishman possesses a game built for windy conditions. I’m not saying Morikawa will miss his first cut this week (law of averages), but I’ll take Leishman at plus (+) money over the kid making his tournament debut.  

Sung-Jae Im (-1.5) (+115) over Brooks Koepka: 2.0 units 

The fade of non-major Brooks has been an on-going love affair I just can’t get enough of (unless he wins this week). Couple that with the return from his knee injury, and Brooks hasn’t looked like himself since the Tour Championship last year. You can tell that pieces of his game are slowly coming together, but he needs to improve around, and on, the greens, in order to get back to his former self.  As for Sung-Jae, I think he can come back after winning last week at the Honda Classic and compete again this week. It was here last year where Sung-Jae got on the average golf fan’s radar with a T-3 finish in his tournament debut. There’s always a concern for a hangover following a young guy’s first PGA Tour win, but Sung-Jae is a mature, seasoned 21-year-old. We hit on Hovland’s hangover last week, but I’m betting Sung-Jae had enough Liquid-IV and Advil throughout the week to push past Sunday’s celebrations. 

Feel free to follow along for more picks on Twitter @AmateurStatus and on Action Network @PattyMacDaddy. Round matchups will be more limited, but nevertheless, posted early in the morning. Let ‘er rip!

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