Horses for Courses: Arnold Palmer Invitational 2021

The international parade of winners reached five last year as Tyrrell Hatton became the first Englishman to raise the trophy. The field of 123 tees it up for the 43rd consecutive year at Bay Hill starting Thursday.

Horses for Courses

The Florida Swing is in full effect and Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge is the next challenge, the second of four consecutive weeks in the Sunshine State. An invitational field of 123 will try to tame The King’s Par-72, 7,466 yard playground as Bay Hill hosts for the 43rd time.


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Dick Wilson laid out the original in 1961 but Palmer started the major renovations in 2009 and regrassed all of the greens with TifEagle Bermuda in 2015. Those massive greens average 7,500 square feet, 1,500 square feet larger than last week at The Concession. Prepped to run 12 feet, the flat stick will definitely have a say in who takes home the biggest prize.

Big targets off the tee and into the green reward those who find the short grass. Missing those large targets will come with large penalties, including 84 bunkers and water in play on half of the course. Keeping it off the beach and out of the drink isn’t as easy as it sounds with three inches of over-seeded Bermuda rough.

The invitational field, similarly to Genesis, will enjoy an elevated prize pool of $9.3 million with the winner taking home $1.674 million and 550 FedExCup points plus a three year exemption. Even though the field is reduced, the top 65 and ties will need to qualify to play the weekend.

The weather forecast this week is a mixed bag, especially on the weekend. Keep an eye on it moving forward because if the wind is up, this place will show all of its teeth!

Recent Event Winners Stats

Year202020192018
 Tyrrell HattonFrancesco MolinariRory McIlroy
Score-4-12-18
MOV123
Cut 3-over1-over1-over
    
Age283628
    
Disantance – All Drives34T317
Driving AccuarcyT33T3T48
GIRT9T6T45
Ball-Striking24529
Proximity10181
    
SG: Off-the-Tee24T131
SG: Approach-the-Green23413
SG: Around-the-Green274520
SG: Putting1511
SG: Tee-to-Green5137
    
ScramblingT751
Bogey Avoidance23T1 
Putting: Birdie or Better %11283
    
Par-3 ScoringT1T3T3
Par-4 ScoringT121T2
Par-5 ScoringT17T54T15

2020: Tyrrell Hatton (-4, 284)

Picked up his first TOUR win in his 60th start as he won by one. … Didn’t break 73 on the weekend but won by a shot. … Led by two after Saturday, his first 54-hole lead on TOUR. … Shared the 36-hole lead for the first time on TOUR. … Entered the week leading the TOUR in Strokes-Gained: Approach the Green. … Becomes the fifth consecutive international champion. … Of the last 15 victors, nine are internationals. … Fifth consecutive winner T4 or better Par-3 scoring. … First Englishman to win. … First on TOUR since Geoff Ogilvy (2006 U.S. Open) to play BOTH rounds on the weekend over-par and win. … Won in his fourth attempt. … T6 in his previous start on TOUR (WGC-Mexico Championship). … Picked up T4 in his debut here in 2017.

Notables:

2107 champ Marc Leishman (2nd) beat Hatton by a shot on Sunday. … Sungjae Im (3rd) winner the previous week at Honda bettered his 2019 debut (T3). … Bryson DeChambeau (4th) was the only other player under-par for the week. … Joel Dahmen (T5) MC in perfect weather in 2019. … Danny Lee (T5) cashed his best finish in his eighth start. … 2018 winner Rory McIlroy (T5) began the final round just two back but signed for 76. … Keith Mitchell (T5) cashed his second consecutive T6 paycheck. … 2019 runner-up Matthew Fitzpatrick (T9) was the only player on THE WEEKEND to post a number in the 60s (69). … Sung Kang (T9) shared the 36 hole lead before 78-74 on the weekend. … Harris English (T9) cashed his best payday in his ninth start. … Only 10 rounds under par on Sunday. … 2016 winner Jason Day (WD) is one of two players (Fred Couples) to go wire-to-wire. … The last champion to defend, Matt Every 2014-15, opened with 65 to lead after Round 1 but shot 83 (MC) in Round 2. … Hardest course on TOUR in 2020, including majors, as it played 2.106 shots over par. … Saturday played 3.913 shots over par. … Wind gusts played havoc all week, just four bogey-free rounds.

2019: Francesco Molinari (-12, 276)

Closed with bogey-free 64 to win by two. … Sat five back after 54 holes. … Posted the low round of the week in Round 4. … Won in his seventh attempt. … Never MC in seven tries. … Led the field Strokes-Gained: Off the Tee. … 51-under lifetime at Bay Hill. … Made an ace in Round 1. … Only made two bogeys on the weekend. … Picked up his third win in last 12 TOUR starts.

Notables:

Matthew Fitzpatrick (2nd) led by one after 54 holes and was the first round leader in 2017. … Tommy Fleetwood (T3) was the 36-hole co-leader by four. … Sungjae Im (T3) posted all four rounds under-par on debut. … Sung Kang (T6) picked up his first of two consecutive top 10 finishes. … Rory McIlroy (T6) began Round 4 just one back. … Keith Mitchell (T6) won The Honda Classic the previous week and led the field in birdies with 21. … Englishman Matt Wallace (T6) posted all four rounds in the red on debut. … Byeong Hun-An (T10) improved on T14 from 2018. … Luke List (T10) backed up his T7 from 2018. … Adam Long (T10) played the weekend 69-67 on debut. … Cut was 1-over 145. … Wind didn’t factor. … Only nine bogey free rounds.

2018: Rory McIlroy (-18, 270)

Started the two year trend of posting bogey-free 64 on Sunday. … Won by three for his 14th TOUR victory. … Began the final round two back. … Posted his career best Strokes-Gained: Putting. … Only needed 100 putts. … 54 from 54 inside seven feet. … Won in his fourth attempt. … Best US result entering the week was T20. … MC week prior at Valspar. … On a Bay Hill run of T6 or better in his last four visits.

Notables:

Bryson DeChambeau (2nd) shared the 36-hole lead and played in the final group. … Justin Rose (3rd) led the field with 24 birdies. … Orlando resident Henrik Stenson (4th) led or co-led after 18, 36 and 54 holes. … 2017 winner Marc Leishman (T7) closed with 67 in his defense. … Patrick Reed (T7) posted 22 birdies, T2 behind Rose. … Patrick Rodgers (T7) closed 68-69. … Played the easiest of the three years at 72.023. … 14 bogey free rounds. … Talor Gooch (T26) and Aaron Wise (T41) both opened with 65 on their debuts. … Last first-timer to win here was Matt Every in 2014. … Cut was 1-over 145.

Key stat leaders

Top golfers in each statistic on the 2019-2020 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.
* – Top 10 finish here since 2016

Strokes-Gained:Golfer
Approach the Green*- Top 10 since 2016 
Rank 
  
4*Tyrrell Hatton
5*Hideki Matsuyama
7Viktor Hovland
8Cameron Tringale
9*Paul Casey
11Doc Redman
12Corey Conners
13*Emiliano Grillo
16Brendan Steele
19*Rory McIlroy
20Branden Grace
22Cameron Percy
23Matthew NeSmith
24Jason Dufner
25*Harris English
  
Par-3 ScoringGolfer
Rank 
  
1Richie Werenski
2JT Poston
2*Harris English
5Will Gordon
5*Tyrrell Hatton
12*Jason Day 
12Brendon Todd
12Rickie Fowler
16Aaron Wise
19Tyler Duncan
19Matthew Nesmith
19Keegan Bradley
19Kevin Na
  
Strokes-Gained: PuttingGolfer
 Rank*- Top 10 since 2016 
  
2*Matthew Fitzpatrick
3Andrew Putnam
4Kristoffer Ventura
5Kevin Na
6Ian Poulter
9Maverick McNealy
10*Bryson DeChambeau
11*Patrick Rodgers
12*Patrick Reed
14JT Poston
15*Kevin Kisner
16Wyndham Clark
18*Harris English
20Brendon Todd
21Richy Werenski
25Patton Kizzire
26*Tommy Fleetwood
28Billy Horschel
29Mark Hubbard
30Sam Burns

Horses for Courses

PlayerTop TopMostBig Finishes
(Starts/cuts made)10s25Recent 
Top 10 last five years  (season) 
     
Tyrrell Hatton (4/4)22Win (2020)T4 2017 debut; T29 2019
Marc Leishman (9/11)462 (2020)2017 winner; T7 2018; T3 2011
Sungjae Im (2/2)223 (2020)T3 on debut 2019
Bryson DeChambeau (4/4)224 (2020)2nd 2018
Keith Mitchell (2/2)22T5 (2020)T6 2019; 3 rounds 68 or better
Danny Lee (4/8)13T5 (2020)T17 2017; T17 2015
Joel Dahmen (1/2)11T5 (2020)Played great in the wind; MC 2019 +6
Sung Kang (3/4)22T9 (2020)T6 2019; co-leader after 36 holes
Harris English (6/9)13T9 (2020)T22 2018; 68 2019
     
Francesco Molinari (7/7)45Win (2019)T7 2017, T9 2016, T5 2014
Matthew Fitzpatrick (4/6)232 (2019)T9 last year; T13 2017
Tommy Fleetwood (3/4)22T3 (2019)T10 2017; T26 2018
Matt Wallace (2/2)12T6 (2019)T24 2020
Jason Kokrak (6/8)35T9 (2019)T18 2020
Lucas Glover (8/11)25T10 (2019)T7 2017; MC in wind 2020
Luke List (3/3)23T10 (2019)T7 2018; T17 2017
Byeong Hun An (5/6)12T10 (2019)T14 2018; 5 straight makes
Adam Long (2/2)12T10 (2019)T24 2020; closed 69-67 2019
     
Rory McIlroy (6/6)45Win (2018)T5 2020, T6 2019, T4 2017; 69.83
Justin Rose (12/15)583 (2018)T9 2016, 2 2013, T3 2011
Henrik Stenson (10/12)584 (2018)T17 2019 ended five of six T8 or better
Patrick Reed (4/5)12T7 (2018)T15 last year; 4 straight event
Patrick Rodgers (4/5)13T7 (2018)T20 debut 2016; T24 2020
     
Kevin Kisner (3/6)12T2 (2017)MC-T23-MC last three
Charley Hoffman (4/8)13T2 (2017)T14-MC-T13 last three years
Adam Hadwin (3/3)116 (2017)9 of 12 par or better; dns 2020
Emiliano Grillo (3/4)12T7 (2017)T26 2018, DQ 2020; T17 2016
Hudson Swafford (5/6)12T10 (2017)4 T36 or better; dns 2020
     
Jason Day (6/10)15Win (2016)T17 before, T22, T23 after
Zach Johnson (16/17)565 (2016)T9 2015, T26 is the best last 4 years
Hideki Matsuyama (6/6)12T6 (2016)T33 is the best the last 4 years
Paul Casey (4/7)12T9 (2016)Last visit T41 2017
     
Select Past Champions    
     
Matt Every (6/11)232014, 2015MC 4 of his last 5 
Martin Laird (9/10)112011 Only top 25; first MC last visit 2019

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