The PGA Tour heads for Bay Hill this week and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Marc Leishman is defending champion and Tiger Woods will be seeking a ninth victory in the event.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Preview, TV Times
The prospect of a ninth Arnold Palmer Invitational victory for Tiger Woods will add considerable excitement to this week’s tournament at “Arnie’s place.” Following his tied second place finish in the Valspar Championship last week, Tiger will be looking to put the exclamation mark against his incredible comeback with a win at Bay Hill.
Tiger is one of a number of star names on the start sheet for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Rory McIlroy starts again and he will be hoping to regain some form after missing the cut in the Valspar. 2016 winner Jason Day tees it up, as do Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational 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. From 2007 Arnold Palmer took over as host of the event. This year’s hosts are Rickie Fowler, Peter Jacobsen and Nancy Lopez.
It’s a tournament that’s been won by some famous players over the years. Arnold Palmer himself, Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin, Payne Stewart, Fred Couples and Phil Mickelson have all been victorious. Tiger Woods won four times in a row from 2000 then again in 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013. Last year, Marc Leishman came out on top. He finished one clear of Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman.
The course at Bay Hill was designed by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee in 1961. Arnold Palmer proclaimed it the best course in Florida the first time he played it in the mid 60s and he later bought the club. In 2009, he completed a redesign of the course that added two shots to the par and repositioned almost every bunker.
The weather looks like being great and, with only light breezes to contend with, the scoring should be good.
Venue: Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Orlando, Florida
Date: Mar 15-18
Course stats: par 72, 7,419 yards
Defending champion: Marc Leishman (-11)
How to watch the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Thursday 15 – Sky Sports Golf from 6pm, featured groups on Sky Sports Golf from 11.30am and Sky Sports Main Event from 3.30pm
Friday 16 – Sky Sports Golf from 6pm, featured groups on Sky Sports Golf from 11.30am
Saturday 17 – Sky Sports Golf from 4.30pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 7.40pm
Sunday 18 – Sky Sports Golf from 4.30pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 4.45pm
Not a Sky Sports customer and want to watch the Arnold Palmer Invitational?
Why not buy a Now TV pass? For £7.99 you can get a day pass if you wish to watch one of the rounds or, for just £12.99, you can get a week pass to see the whole tournament.
Players to watch:
All eyes will be on eight-time champion Tiger Woods and he will start as the bookies’ favourite. It’s been a great spell for English golf with last week’s Indian Open being won by Matt Wallace and the Valspar Championship by Paul Casey. There’s a strong English presence at the Arnold Palmer Invitational too:
Justin Rose – He was in contention for the Valspar until a disappointing day with the putter on the Sunday. But the 2013 US Open winner has been showing excellent form and he has a strong record at Bay Hill with five top-15 finishes since 2011.
Tommy Fleetwood – He’s been enjoying his time on the PGA Tour this season and was fourth in the Honda Classic. He was tied 10th at Bay Hill last year.
Tyrrell Hatton – He was tied third in the recent WGC-Mexico Championship and tied fourth in this event last year. He clearly enjoys the course and should go well again.
Key Hole: 18th. At 458 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. Back in 1990, Robert Gamez famously holed his second shot to this hole to beat Greg Norman by a single stroke.
Skills required: Mastering the par-5s. The winner at Bay Hill tends to play the long holes well.