The Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard began life in 1966 as the Florida Citrus Open Invitational. In 1979 the tournament became the Bay Hill Citrus Classic and, by 1996, was known as the Bay Hill Invitational. Since 2007 Arnold Palmer has hosted the event.
Bay Hill has been a happy hunting ground for Tiger Woods. He’s been a winner here five times, including last season but he’s not on the start sheet this time round having announced he will not return to golf until the US Masters.
Last season Tiger played an excellent final round of 67 to sneak past Sean O’Hair who struggled to a 73 on the Sunday.
Arnold Palmer and his team have tweaked the course at Bay Hill a little since last year’s championship. It’s gone from a par 70 to a par 72 and has been extended to 7,400 yards. But, it’s around the greens the most noticeable changes have been made. Slopes have been accentuated and firmed up to demand more creative scrambling when greens are missed.
Venue: Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Florida
Date: Mar 25-28
Course stats: par 72, 7,400 yards
Purse: $6,000,000 Winner: $1,044,000
Defending Champion: Tiger Woods (-5)
Thursday 25 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 7pm
Friday 26 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 7pm
Saturday 27 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 7pm
Sunday 28 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 7.30pm
Ernie Els – The 1998 champion is fresh off the back of his rejuvenating victory at the WGC – CA Championship. He’ll look to solidify his return to form with a good performance here.
Nick Watney – He was tied fourth in last year’s tournament and nobody made more birdies around the course in 2009. He had a top-5 finish last week and shows signs of returning to his best form.
Phil Mickelson – He’s had a disappointing 2010 to this point so he’ll be eager to post a good total here to act as a springboard for Augusta. He won here back in 1997.
Key hole: 18th. At 441 yards, it’s not the length of this par-4 that will intimidate the players, it’s the difficulty of the approach. Water and rocks wait in front of the green and anything drifting right could end up wet.
Skills required: Long hitting. It’s been extended to 7,400 yards this season and has returned to a par 72. The requirement for power at Bay Hill is one of the reasons why Tiger has been so successful here over the years. Other long-ball specialists like Vijay Singh and Kenny Perry are also recent winners at Bay Hill.