A (Brief) Preview of The 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational

Week two of the Florida swing heads to the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, just outside Orlando, for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

With “invitational” designation, this week’s field strength is a pretty big step up compared to last week’s Honda Classic. At the same time, it’s not quite as good as the field we saw two weeks ago at the Genesis Invitational, perhaps a result of API preceding the PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP.

The Field

Five of the top ten players in the world are set to compete at API, including Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, and Hideki Matsuyama.

Last year’s champion Bryson DeChambeau, who last played (and missed the cut) at the Farmer’s Insurance Open in January, will also tee it up this week in Orlando.

DeChambeau has been dealing with back and wrist injuries since then, withdrawing from the Saudi International event as a result.

This seems to be reflected in DeChambeau’s early odds to win. DraftKings Sportsbook opened with 28/1 odds for DeChambeau to go back-to-back at Bay Hill. A pretty shockingly high number for the defending champ, who I expected would come in with odds half that…

I guess Vegas is telling us that Bryson’s injury concerns are very real.

The Course

Bay Hill stands at just under 7,500 yards, making it one of the longest courses on the PGA Tour schedule. Narrow fairways on certain holes, along with some of the thickest rough on tour, makes the course play even longer.

Bay Hill is arguably a tougher course than PGA National, though given Bay Hill plays with two more strokes to par as a Par-72 (thanks to four Par-5s), the scores tend to get just a bit lower.

The Par-5s are where players absolutely need to make their hay this week — all reachable in two shots for the longer hitting golfers.

The Par-3s all play over 200 yards at Bay Hill, which averages out to the longest on tour. The 450–500 yard Par-4s often require longer iron approaches into the greens as well.

Bryson DeChambeau has found a lot of success at the Arnold Palmer Invitational by aggressively using his length to overpower the course. But length is by no means a prerequisite for success at Bay Hill.

Previous winners like Tyrrell Hatton, Marc Leishman, and Francesco Molinari are by no means long hitters.

Hatton is an accurate driver and awesome long iron player. Leishman boasts a world class short game, and Molinari (when in form) is generally well-rounded and good at playing positional golf.

Final Thoughts

18th hole at Bay Hill

Bay Hill is not my favorite course on the schedule, but I appreciate the difficult test of golf it’s offered in recent years.

I believe all PGA Tour events should strive to culminate in an exciting final stretch of holes that requires golfers to hit great shots, and the Arnold Palmer Invitational certainly provides that experience.

The par-5 16th gives golfers a tremendous opportunity to score, though a perfectly straight drive off-the-tee is hugely important with water in front of the green there.

Then golfers move to the 200+ yard par-3 17th, which is surrounded by bunkers and just becomes such a difficult green to hit come Sunday when the course is baked out entirely.

Golfers finish off with the toughest hole on the course, the par-4 18th — a hole you need to play absolutely perfect just to make Par. An errant tee shot makes it just about impossible to hit the green, and even a great tee shot still requires an excellent approach to dodge water to the right and bunkers on the left to land safety greenside.

It can be easy to look past API with the PLAYERS on the horizon for next week.

But I’m thoroughly excited to hear from Bryson DeChambeau early in week…for the first time since the Saudi League rumors and his association with it really heated up. While Phil Mickelson has continued to get lambasted over his comments, DeChambeau has basically stayed out of the spotlight and not answered any questions about it.

Though once we get past that, the golf at Bay Hill from Thursday through Sunday should be excellent. I can’t wait to see who comes out on top.

Thanks for reading and happy golf.

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