Will this be the first time we’ll see Mickelson in anything approaching peak form this year? My guess is we won’t see that version until Augusta, but it would be madness to write off a man who’s won at Bay Hill before and made the top five on three other occasions.
If Mickelson is a 12/1 shot, then Stricker must surely represent a bit of value at 16/1 as his form over recent months is overwhelmingly superior. Still, whatever his wider success, it remains the case that Stricker has never finished better than fourth in Florida. I should add that I’m wary of that statistic and others concerning Stricker’s old form, given his vast recent improvement.
There was nobody more pleased than me to see the Big Easy bounce back to his best at Doral, even if I predicted the complete opposite and frustratingly backed him the previous week. Legend though he is, as well as a former Bay Hill champion back in the 1990s, he’s done precious little here since and remains a player to treat with scepticism.
Rather like Els, last week’s winner Furyk was impossible to fancy on the basis of his previous performance. He also has a meagre record at Bay Hill, and having waited nearly three years for his latest win, back to back titles hardly seems likely.
Watney looks a serious candidate after last year’s fourth and snatching a place at the weekend, closing with 67/65. The only thing deterring me from a bet is much shortened odds. Does Watney really deserve to be shorter than Villegas?
O’Hair should have won this last year, being reeled in by a charging Tiger Woods, and also finished third in 2008. He would have been a pick if there was anything positive to report about his form since a promising first event of the year.
Zach’s Bay Hill record reads three top tens from six, including third behind Woods last year, suggesting he’s well capable of putting a couple of disappointing weeks behind him.
The Phoenix champion is a player I intend to follow closely this summer, but not until the end of the Florida Swing. At least Bay Hill is the one venue in this state where he’s made a top 20, when sixth in 2008.
Goosen has only one good result here from ten tries, but can’t be entirely ruled out given his very consistent results over the past year.
After finishing sixth at Doral, McDowell looks capable of becoming the latest European winner on the PGA Tour. He certainly has good reason to be confident ahead of Bay Hill, a course on which he finished second much earlier in his career, back in 2005.
Another in-form European. Justin has finished 13th and third over the past fortnight, and already has a top ten to his name at Bay Hill.
Choi will have his supporters after consecutive runners-up spots, but must overcome a poor course record.
After that career-best performance at Doral, Schwartzel looks ready to start fulfilling his vast potential. Whether one performance justifies more than a halving in his odds is another matter.
A big price at 50/1 on his best, but the reigning Sawgrass champion has been badly out of form for months.
Crane is already a winner this year, and has generally acquitted himself well since. With two top 15s to his name here already, he could be a lively outsider.
2010 STATS: -37pts
Where next?
Preview: Arnold Palmer Invitational preview
Competitions: Win golf prizes