Arnold Palmer Invitational
Bay Hill Club and Lodge
Yards: 7,419 per the scorecard
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Bermudagass; 6,500 square feet on average
Rough: Bermudagrass and ryegrass at 4”
Water Hazards: 7
Course Architect: Dick Wilson and Joe Lee (1961)
Winner’s Share: $1,152,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Tiger Woods defeated Justin Rose by two shots to win his eighth Arnold Palmer Invitational (API). That is not a typo.
Dates: March 20-23
Format: Stroke play
Notes: As of Monday afternoon, 22 of the top 50 players in the OWGR rankings are entered this week.
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won the first 16 of 18 events of 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson, Russell Henley and Chesson Hadley have collected the hardware this year for the stars and stripes. John Senden joins Jason Day as Australia is alone representing the rest of the world.
Chesson Hadley, Jimmy Walker and Kevin Stadler are the only first-time winners this season. There were 12 first-timers in 40 events last year.
Walker (three wins) and Patrick Reed (two) are the only two players on TOUR with multiple victories this season.
Young Guns versus Prime Time versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and was joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia and Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson, 35, joined them at Riviera.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) are the twenty-somethings on the board. That’s nine wins from 18 events this year from the up-and-comers!
Finally! Breakthrough! The 40-something-“Old Guys” have broken their 2013-14 maiden as John Senden, 42, entered the winner’s circle last week in Tampa.
Pay Attention: It’s FREE
The API was called the Bay Hill Invitational until 2007 when it was renamed.
The API switched from par 71 to par 72 after AP’s redesign in 2009.
The 2010 tournament was the first contested at par 72.
Past Champions in the Field:
1992: Robert Gamez
1996: Paul Goydos
1999: Tim Herron
2004: Chad Campbell
2006: Rod Pampling
2007: Vijay Singh
2011: Martin Laird
2012-13: Tiger Woods. Plus seven other wins on this course.
Since 1990, only Paul Goydos has broken his maiden on this track.
Since 1990, no first-timer has ever won.
Woods and Loren Roberts (1994-95) are the only players to defend their titles in 36 events at Bay Hill.
Add Tom Kite and Ernie Els to Roberts and these are the only four players to win this event more than once as they all have won twice.
Martin Laird is the only European winner.
Els (twice), Pampling, Singh and Laird are the only international winners. This means that 31 of the last 36 winners are Yanks. #math
Inside the Ropes
Here’s where the API has ranked, relative to par, since moving to par 72 in March of 2010:
2013: 12th-most difficult; +.928 above par
2012: 12th-most difficult; +1.176
2011: eighth-most difficult; +1.203
2010: ninth-most difficult; +.892
For the fourth week in a row, the pros will find themselves navigating some of the most difficult, non-major tracks on TOUR. First, it was the water and Bear Trap at Honda. That was followed by the “new” Blue Monster at Doral which swallowed up enough golf balls to fill a pro shop twice. Last week, the hills, rough, wind and trees of The Snake Pit at Innisbrook made par an excellent score. This week shouldn’t be much different. Bay Hill has never played beneath par, on average, even after changing to par 72 in 2010.
Arnold Palmer enjoyed hitting driver so the players this week won’t have to worry about tight landing areas or heavily bunkered fairways. The driver will be constantly pulled out of the bag as the pros will try and give themselves the best position to attack the multi-tiered, heavily bunkered green complexes. The average winning score since 2010 has been slightly over 10-under-par. With four par fives, players have chances to attack but the successful players will be the ones who can control their golf ball in the wind and be able to measure the speed of the greens. If there is not rain in the forecast these Bermudagrass greens, already scheduled to run at 12’ on the Stimpmeter, will be lightning late in the afternoons.
Last year, Woods was almost last in fairways hit, middle of the pack in GIR but was number one in putting. He was the only player in the top 15 to find 10 or more bunkers. Rickie Fowler only made six bogeys for the week but his eight on the 70th hole saw him fall out of a tie for second place. Guys who will be successful this week will take advantage of the par fives, roll in birdies to offset bogeys and make plenty of pars everywhere else. Oh, and they will have to hold off Tiger Woods, if he’s healthy.