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March 21 2012

9:30 PM

ShotLink: Attack the par-5s at Bay Hill

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Martin Laird won at Bay Hill in 2011 because he dominated the par-5s.

According to course superintendent Matt Beaver, the rough is expected to top out at 3-1/2 inches this week, with the thick turf remaining the course’s biggest weapon.

"You hit the ball in the rough, and it makes it pretty tough," Beaver said.

But that fact shouldn't deter the big hitters this week in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. In year's past, the big hitters have thrived: the recent winner's list includes Martin Laird, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Kenny Perry and Phil Mickelson. Not exactly a bunch of Corey Pavins.

How do the big hitters do so well at Bay Hill? Real simple. They tend to eat up Bay Hill's four par-5s, and with scoring at a premium (8 under won last year), birdies on par-5s are even more valuable.

No one was better on the par-5s last year than Laird, who led the field with 18 birdies on the way to victory last year. He made 10 birdies (plus an eagle) on the par-5s, and won by a single shot.

Laird's 12 under par on the par-5s was nine shots better than the field average of 3 under, and he was the only player (besides Bubba Watson) to go for every par-5 in two.

Here's how Laird won last year at Bay Hill: 

Stat Laird rank Laird stat Field average
Driving Distance 5th 296.6 282.3
Driving Accuracy T22nd 71.43 66.24
Total Driving 4th 27 72
Greens in Regulation T20th 68.06 percent 61.88 percent
Going for the green (Par-5s) T1 100 percent 45.90 percent
Strokes Gained - Putting 26th .687 N/A
Putting from - 10-15' 5th 55.56 percent 27.81 percent
Total birdies 1st 18 9
Par 5 Birdie or Better Pct 1st 68.75 percent 36.78 percent
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