Tournament Preview

2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational Betting Preview

Arnold Palmer Invitational

PGA Tour – 72 holes – 21-24 March 2013

Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Florida

Introductory Comments

This popular tournament is played at Bay Hill, a private resort owned by tournament host Arnold Palmer.

The Invitational was founded in 1979 and has been dominated in recent times by Tiger Woods who has had 7 wins, dating back to his first in 2000; he’s back this week and certain to be hungry for an 8th!

The Course

Bay Hill is a par72 at 7,400yds (6,750m) where the Par 5’s are all birdie opportunities, though overall it’s a challenging course with undulations and water.

A combination of recent and course form have been the most accurate historical betting pointers and it’s almost invariably been experienced players that have prevailed here.

Quality putting on the bermuda greens goes a long way too. The multiple past winners of this event were all great putters: Tiger Woods, Loren Roberts, Arnie himself (before he got the yips!) & Tom Kite.

Other renowned putters such as Crenshaw, Mickelson & Couples have also won this.

The Betting Market

Tiger is, naturally, the dominant favourite. Since 2009 he has only won on courses he loves and where he’s had multiple prior victories and Bay Hill is one of those six favourite courses!

Beyond Tiger some very good players are paying fantastic prices but, remember, if Tiger again brings his ‘A’ game to a course that suits he’s going to be hard to beat!

Betting Strategy

The first matter to consider when there is such a dominant favourite is what to do: bet against him, back him or ignore him. Here’s my logic:

Firstly, after his supreme 2013 performances at favourite courses, Doral & Torrey Pines, and given that he’s already won at Bay Hill seven times, I can’t recommend betting against Tiger.

Secondly, I cannot recommend backing such a short-priced favourite in a field of 128, especially when my assessment of his true price is 5.00.  

Therefore, my recommended strategy is to ignore Tiger. This can be achieved in one of three ways: bet into a ‘No-Tiger’ tournament market, don’t bet on this tournament at all or, my preference, bet on players other than Tiger but only in Top5, Top10 or other place markets.

Place Bet Selections

My three recommended selections are:


Bill Haas is too good a player to be paying 13.00 and is my top place recommendation. He has been in a bit of a form lull since a sweet run of 9th, 6th and then 3rd at Riviera earlier in the year but he’s never down for long and I’m picking a bounceback this week for a guy who plays the great courses and tournaments (outside the Majors!) exceptionally well..


Sean O’Hair has been inconsistent this season, which has pushed his price out to an attractive level for a player of his quality. He has had several Top3’s at Bay Hill, ticks all the selection criteria boxes above and thus a good week would not surprise. His price is in the 11.00 – 13.00 range as I type.


Luke Guthrie is a young rookie, still adjusting to the big time, he has nonetheless shown the expected good signs already this year, most notably with his 3rd in the Honda Classic.

He’s generally available at 101.00 – 126.00 the win and around 23.00 the place and his quality and promise force me to go against my own ethos of only backing experience here!

The above three players would be my each way selections if betting in a no-Tiger market.

Historical Note: rank outsiders have a consistent record of placing here, so don’t hesitate to back that longshot you’ve been following!

Exchange Betting

I assess Tiger’s true price as 5.00 though the market is significantly shorter, so lay him at unders, perhaps 4.50 or shorter. This is your foundation for laying any other players.

Brandt Snedeker has not played, owing to a rib injury, since early February so his competitive game may be a bit rusty. Also, his Bay Hill record is poor.

Phil Mickelson is as wayward as ever and has not contended at Bay Hill for many years.

Webb Simpson has a poor course record and has been having putting woes in recent Florida starts; he also looks a good lay prospect to me.

Sergio still seems to be having his mental battles on US soil and may be worth laying here.

Others in the market can also be selectively layed at unders to help you ‘make your book’ and reduce your exposure on Tiger, just in case he opens strongly and runs straight to the wire!

If you’re of the opinion that you shouldn’t lay Tiger at all, you could choose to lay around him on the next 10 or 20 or more in the market, though the associated investment of time and stress needs to be weighed against the comparative value of simply backing him to win. Do your sums!

Back-to-lay is risky in an event with this type of pricing distribution because if Tiger’s in or near the lead then nobody else’s price is going to shorten much unless they establish a big lead.

Good luck with your golf punting!

© Copyright Mike J Miller: 18 March 2013