March 14, 2014
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- Defending champion Tiger Woods goes for his ninth win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. (Cannon/Getty Images)
View the full field list for the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard
• COURSE: Bay Hill Club & Lodge, 7,419 yards, par 72. The 1961 Dick Wilson design was proclaimed the “best course in Florida” after Arnold Palmer first gave it a test – spurring him to eventually buy the place. Palmer has tinkered plenty over the years, but appears satisfied with a makeover now set to host its fifth edition. The closing trio of holes often produces a dramatic finish, most notably Robert Gamez’s stunning 7-iron holeout at No. 18 to zoom past Greg Norman in the 1990 Invitational.
• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.
• CHARITY: The Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation, which underwrites both the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. A neonatal unit in need of expansion spurred Palmer to start earmarking tournament proceeds for a new facility. Since 1987, the event has generated more than $16 million for the campus.
• FIELD WATCH: Tiger Woods, balky back and all, heads a strong lineup in which 11 others among the top 20 in the world rankings will try to keep him from an unprecedented ninth Bay Hill crown. Joining him will be No. 2 Adam Scott, No. 3 Henrik Stenson and No. 4 Jason Day – marking the first time this year that the world’s top four have teed it up in the same event. … New WGC-Cadillac Championship winner Patrick Reed also is among seven of the PGA TOUR’s nine winners thus far in 2014. … Sam Saunders, Palmer’s grandson and a Web.com Tour pro, is in on an exemption for the fifth time, but first since 2012.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Payne Stewart (1987).
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 62, Andy Bean (2nd round, 1981), Greg Norman (2nd round, 1984).
• LAST YEAR: An extra day’s wait made little difference to Woods, who held off Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler in a Monday finish to return to No. 1 in the world rankings and match Sam Snead’s mark by winning eight times in the same event. Damaging thunderstorms with winds up to 62 mph forced the final round to be held over, but Woods’ 2-under 70 never let anyone get closer than two shots when play resumed. Woods notched his third victory of 2013 and 77th of his career, bringing him within five of Snead’s all-time record. Eight of Snead’s wins came in Greensboro, setting the single-tournament standard that Woods matched.
• STORYLINES: Woods’ quest for No. 9 comes amid the uncertainty of his sore back, which prompted him to withdraw five holes from the end at The Honda Classic and limp home in 25th at Trump Doral. Other than a 2010 slate that didn’t start until the Masters, this is the longest he’s gone into a year without a top-10 finish. … Reed can expect a newfound following after his victory on the Blue Monster, his third in a seven-month span dating to August’s Wyndham Championship. He’s now No. 3 in the FedExCup standings, 546 points behind Jimmy Walker. … Reed or Honda winner Russell Henley can give the Florida Swing its third two-time winner in the past five years. Woods won at Doral and Bay Hill last year; Ernie Els did it in 2010. … Day returns to action from a minor thumb injury that prompted him to take himself out of the WGC-Cadillac Championship lineup last week.
• SHORT CHIPS: Since the PGA TOUR started coming to Bay Hill 35 years ago, Scotland’s Martin Laird (2011) is the only European to claim the trophy. Just three other internationals have won – Els (1998 and ’10), Rod Pampling (2006) and Vijay Singh (2007). … Twenty of the 132 players in the field keep a residence in the Orlando area, a list that includes reigning FedExCup champion Stenson, U.S. Open titleholder Justin Rose and 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson.
• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 12:30-2 p.m. (GC), 2-6 p.m. (NBC).
• RADIO: Thursday- Sunday, noon-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).