Arnold Palmer Invitational preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
The fourth and final round of the Florida swing takes place at the Kings place, Bay Hill, Orlando. If you can bear the interviews with Arnie you’re a better man than me. Bay Hill is on paper a 7,400 + monster which has – surprise – undergone some renovations again since last year when it was changed to open it up (when do the members ever get to play these courses?).
Prior to last year it was the rough and the bunkers and now the greens have been given the same treatment as those at Copperhead last week. The greens at Copperhead were slow and our best chance Ryno consistently came up short.
You have to wonder what good these slow greens are doing to player’s games when it comes to Augusta.
Back to the Bay Hill where Matt Every attempts to win three on the trot. He clearly loves it here and while his form is hardly inspiring he did at least make the cut at The Valspar. He could be the modern incarnation of Andy North who “only” won two PGA Tour events in his career…they just happened to be US Opens.
I wouldn’t deny Every’s chances but we’ll watch him rather than back him.
If Bay Hill plays like last year then we will see lots of fairways and greens being hit by the bigger hitters – which plays into the hands of the power hitters. The expected rain will only enhance their advantage
On this basis we have to go with Rory. Being the best player of his generation the openness of Bay Hill allied to the expected softening his power and GIR advantage stand out. His putting is a lot better and he will probably destroy the place and trot up. I can’t help feeling that although he wants to win having lead two of his last three events he wouldn’t be overly distraught if he putted well and posted a number. Don’t get me wrong of course he wants to win but there is a bigger picture here. If any other player had contended like Rory recently they would be player of the month (Scott aside) but because its Rory it all feels like he’s hacked it round. All of this should help relax him and if that is the case look out. He’s had 10 days to work on his new putting technique and it wasn’t too shabby last time out. Scott came over the top of the field and is on a roll he can hardly believe himself. Three time winners are super rare so on that basis alone we will leave him out. I mentioned Rory playing with Dustbin last time out and how that must have affected his last round play. I don’t care who you are you feed off good play and conversely bad play can bring the mood down – and The Bin was awesomely bad. No excuses but the stars seemed to line up against him – not this time. An 11th last year in his only ever appearance when the changes had been made set him up nicely.
There are so many “others” that we will stay firmly in the Rory camp.
Moore. On fire in an admittedly damp squib way Moore had multiple chances last week to get to the playoff but couldn’t quite do it. It was a sterling effort though and he really is at the top of his game. He must be as confident as his demeanour belies and we’d be on him but the price looks skinny when you factor in Rory and the changes that have given the power players further advantages only work against him (Moore missed this event last year).
Stenson: Super consistent form around here and in great form generally but too short.
Scott: Three peats as mentioned are super rare and his price is too short.
Zach Johnson: loves it here but looks slightly out of sorts.
Jason Kokrak: Again loves it here and contended recently but looks uncomfortable in the heat.