The run of first-time PGA Tour winners continued last week at the Honda Classic. Sepp Straka overcame a five-shot deficit on Sunday to become the first Austrian to win on Tour.
The Florida swing heads to Orlando this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which has been hosted annually at Bay Hill Club & Lodge since 1979.
API produced one of the season’s magical moments last March, as eventual champion Bryson DeChambeau nearly reached the green in one on the Par-5 sixth, crushing a 370-yard drive over water to the delight of a raucous gallery.
Unfortunately, DeChambeau will not be defending his title his week. He withdrew on Monday due to a lingering wrist injury.
With DeChambeau no longer in the field, the odds have shifted over the last 24 hours. Let’s dive in and see if we can pile on a few more winning bets this week.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Winner Odds 2022
Arnold Palmer Invitational winner PGA odds are current as of 1:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 1, and provided by Caesars Sportsbook.
- Jon Rahm (+850)
- Rory McIlroy (+1200)
- Viktor Hovland (+1600)
- Scottie Scheffler (+1800)
- Hideki Matsuyama (+2500)
- Sungjae Im (+2600)
- Will Zalatoris (+2800)
- Matt Fitzpatrick (+3000)
- Marc Leishman (+3000)
- Paul Casey (+3300)
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Arnold Palmer Invitational Course Tips
Bay Hill Club & Lodge (Orlando, FL)
- Par 72 (7,466 yards)
- That first bullet point should catch your eye — Bay Hill is notably longer than PGA National was last week. While you’d expect that has a lot to do with going back to a setup with four Par-5s, a lot of that distance is actually pushed into the four Par-3s. Bay Hill’s collection of Par-3s is probably the toughest on Tour. Each one plays somewhere around 200-230 yards. Avoiding bogeys on those four holes will be key.
- How are you going to avoid making bogey on those long Par-3s? Well, you better be comfortable hitting your long irons. 29.3% of approach shots at Bay Hill come from 200+ yards, per Fantasy National, which is well above the Tour average of 22.3%.
- In addition to the length, Bay Hill is a Florida course, which means water and sand are going to be a factor once again. The water is less prevalent than it was last week at Honda, though the rough at Bay Hill tends to be longer and more penal. The longer rough puts an emphasis on hitting fairways, which brings the shorter hitters back into play. While past winners include bombers like Bryson and Rory McIlroy, we’ve also seen short-hitters like Francesco Molinari (1st, 2019), Kevin Kisner (2nd, 2017), and Lee Westwood (2nd, 2021) have success here.
- The greens at Bay Hill are Bermuda grass, which we saw last week at PGA National, and typically play firm and fast.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Field
Even without DeChambeau, there’s still plenty of talent in this week’s field.
Four of the top six players in the Official World Golf Rankings will make the trip to Bay Hill, including World No. 1 Jon Rahm, 2021 Phoenix Open winner Scottie Scheffler, 2018 API champion Rory McIlroy, and Viktor Hovland, twice a worldwide winner already this year.
Will Zalatoris will be hoping it’s finally his time as he looks to extend the recent run of first-time Tour winners, while past champions Marc Leishman and Tyrrell Hatton will seek to sport Mr. Palmer’s famous red cardigan sweater on the 18th green once again.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Best Bets
Will Zalatoris to Win Arnold Palmer Invitational (+2800) at Caesars
The first win is coming. It’s just a matter of time.
Zalatoris rates out as the top golfer in my model this week, which isn’t surprising given how immaculate his ball striking is. In three starts this season, the 25-year-old has gained 3.7, 4.6, 7.9 strokes on approach.
He’s also consistently gaining strokes off the tee and ranks second in the field in good drives gained and greens in regulation hit over the last 12 rounds. The only concern is the flatstick, which is the biggest weakness in his game.
If Zalatoris can find some modicum of success with putter, he’ll be lifting the trophy on Sunday.
Sungjae Im to Win Arnold Palmer Invitational (+2600) at Caesars
I’m going to give Sungjae a pass for his missed cut last week, even though it cost us on a prop. He found the water and uncharacteristically missed some short putts on Thursday to essentially kill his chances for the week.
Im did bounce back somewhat on Friday, gaining 1.7 strokes off the tee and another 1.0 on approach compared to the field. He hasn’t quite put it all together of late, but he’s shown the ability to play well here with a pair of third-place finishes in 2019 and 2020.
I liked this number more when it opened at 30-1, but there’s still a bit of value here.
Cameron Young Top-5 Finish (+1200) at Caesars
Cameron Young has been beyond impressive lately, finishing no worse than 26th in his past four starts. That run includes a runner-up finish at the Genesis and a 16th-place finish last week at the Honda Classic.
Young is dynamic with the driver and has consistently gained 3-5 strokes off the tee in each event over the past month. He has also gained strokes on approach and with the putter in three of his past four starts.
The path for Young is much like that of Bryson’s last year: gain a ton off the tee and hope the rest of the game comes along.
Rory McIlroy Top-10 Finish (+150) at Caesars
This bet has cashed in each of the past five years — McIlroy owns the best course history of any player in the field at Bay Hill. (For the record, Tiger Woods has won eight times here.)
The four-time major champion has plenty of length off the tee and started to find his typically stellar iron play on the weekend in his last start at the Genesis Invitational two weeks ago.
It certainly won’t be a surprise to see Rory in the mix again this weekend.
Keith Mitchell Top-20 Finish (+188) at Caesars
Keith Mitchell shot one better each day last week en route to a T-9 finish at the Honda Classic. He’s now finished 12th or better in four of his five starts this year, and has been consistently gaining off the tee and on approach.
The former Georgia Bulldog has a pair of top-10 finishes to his name at Bay Hill (2019 & 2020) and should come in feeling confident.
Top English Player: Paul Casey (+500) at BetMGM
Casey is probably going to make my outright betting card this week (40-1 on BetMGM), but this prop also holds some value due to the impressive course history of his fellow countrymen Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrell Hatton.
The 44-year-old thrives on long, difficult golf courses, which led to top-10 finishes at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in 2021. Casey has also played Florida golf well throughout his career, winning the Valspar Championship twice and earning top-10 finishes at API and at the PLAYERS Championship.
Casey enters this event off a top-15 finish at the Genesis, where he gained 5.6 strokes on approach. If he can keep up that level of ball striking, he’ll be in contention on Sunday.
Sahith Theegala Over Patrick Reed & Matthew Wolff (+163) at Caesars
I’m going to continue to look for opportunities to bet against Patrick Reed and Matthew Wolff until they show some signs of improvement.
Sure, there’s a chance one of them has figured things out since shooting a combined 26-over par in four combined rounds at the Honda, but it doesn’t seem overly likely.
Take Theegala at plus money and run.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Event Details
- Dates: Thursday, March 3 - Sunday, March 6, 2022
- Course: Bay Hill Club & Lodge
- Course Dimensions: Par 72 (7,466 yards)
- 2021 Honda Classic Winner: Bryson DeChambeau
- How to Watch: ESPN+/Golf Channel/NBC