Location: Bay Hill Club & Lodge (Florida, USA)
First Tee Time: Thursday, March 7th at 6:45 AM
The Bay Hill Club & Lodge, which opened in 1961, is a course to which legendary golfer Arnold Palmer quickly grew accustomed. In 1970, Palmer negotiated a five-year lease that included an option to eventually buy Bay Hill. Sure enough, five years later Palmer became owner of the Orlando area club. He then used his influence to bring the PGA Tour to his course, and in 1979, the Bay Hill Invitational was instituted. Today, it is known as the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
2019 Tour Details
This is the only tournament left that still retains its “Invitational” status. The field of golfers is limited to 120, which isn’t out of the ordinary; but the invitation qualifications make it one of the more difficult non-specialty tours to enter. Candidates are invited on the basis of specific achievements, which can be found in the PGA Tour Handbook.
With an event purse of $9.1 million, the champion will be awarded a $1,638,000 prize. In addition, the winner will earn 500 FedEx Cup points and a three-year tour exemption. A more ceremonial gift of a crested red sweater is also given to the winner in honor of Arnold Palmer.
Favorites to Win the Event
1. Rory McIlroy
The defending champion of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, McIlroy is the safe bet to win the event again this year. His performance has been steady, most recently placing second in the Mexico World Golf Championship.
2. Justin Rose
Rose has only played in three tournaments so far this year, but the 2018 FedEx Cup Champion has had no troubles out on the links. He’s already won his first event, The Farmers Insurance Open.
3. Brooks Koepka
Like the reigning cup winner, Koepka has found early success this year. He won The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges in October. More recently, he found himself tied for 2nd at the Honda Classic with Fowler.
4. Rickie Fowler
Fowler has already played in six events this year and placed within the top ten in half of them. Most notably was his win at the Waste Management Open. Starting off hot, Fowler tied for 2nd with Koepka at the Honda Classic.
5. Jason Day
Day has played in five events this year, placing within the top ten three times. Beyond that, his finished haven’t been notable but he is bound to improve. The 2016 Invitational Champion will surely put on a show at this event.
6. Bryson DeChambeau
Losing to McIlroy by only three strokes last year, DeChambeau is back. His play has been up and down since he won the Shriner Classic in November. However, Bryson is never satisfied with remaining consistent, always looking to improve his game.
7. Marc Leishman
Leishman won the Arnold Palmer Invitational back in 2017. Being one of the more active player earlier this year, he already has seven event appearances. In addition to winning the CIMB Classic, he’s placed within the top ten on three separate occasions.
A Few More Notable Golfers
The names Phil Mickelson, Tommy Fleetwood, and Hideki Matsuyama should sound familiar. These players are no strangers to the tour and should be included in the list of front runners. Mickelson may have won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the famous Tiger vs. Phil, but he has been plagued by slow starts recently. Fleetwood and Matsuyama have played conservatively all year and should begin gaining momentum soon.
My Featured Pairings for Thursday and Friday:
- Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Henrik Stenson
- RD1: 7:43AM at TEE #10; RD2: 12:33PM at TEE #1
- Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Ian Poulter
- RD1: 7:54AM at TEE #10; RD2: 12:44PM at TEE #1
- Marc Leishman, Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy
- RD1: 12:33PM at TEE #1; RD2: 7:43AM at TEE #10
- Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka
- RD1: 12:44PM at TEE #1; RD2: 7:44AM at TEE #10
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Stats taken from pgatour.com
Featured Photo Source: golflink.com