Odds Outlook: Rahm favored against star-studded field at Bay Hill
5 Min Read
Written by Mike Glasscott @MikeGlasscott
The second stop of the Florida Swing offers the second elevated event of the calendar year.
Since 1979 Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge has hosted the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. This week there are plenty of familiar faces in Orlando, with 44 of the top 50 players in the world (including all 14 PGA TOUR winners this season) teeing it up with another $20 million purse on the line.
Leading the way, both in odds and trophies already acquired, is world No. 1 Jon Rahm. With wins from five of his last nine worldwide, including two weeks ago at The Genesis Invitational for his third victory of 2023, there's nobody hotter. Rahm is the clear betting favorite this week, listed at +650 according to BetMGM Sportsbook. The only interesting outlier from the world's top-ranked player is that none of his 19 professional wins have come in the state of Florida. He made his first appearance here last year and shared 17th.
There’s nothing Mickey Mouse about this week’s stop, as the last three events at Bay Hill have ranked among the top 10 of most difficult on TOUR. The 2020 edition, won by Tyrrell Hatton at 4 under, was the toughest test on TOUR that season – major, WGC or otherwise.
Two players who know just what it takes to slip into the winner’s red cardigan are right behind Rahm among the favorites. The defending champ, Scottie Scheffler, turned up the heat here last year to pick up his second win of 2022 and is listed at +900 to keep the trophy. In his first defense this season from his 2022 bounties, he went back-to-back at the WM Phoenix Open three weeks ago. Defending a title for the first time is usually a tough ask, but not when you have the bag that this guy possesses. Conditions were brutal last year yet the Texan doesn't appear to mind a tough track and a bit of breeze.
Rory McIlroy, a winner here in 2018, is listed at +1000. His streak of five consecutive top-10 paydays ended last year with T13, so he's hardly lost his way. Looking for his first top 10 on U.S. soil in 2023, this is a comfortable landing spot. Perfect from eight tries, seven have registered T13 or better!
After battling Rahm to the finish line at Riviera, Max Homa (+1600) made it abundantly clear that he's ready to be mentioned in deepest fields on the toughest tracks. With a win already this season on the monster of Torrey Pines South combined with past top paydays at Quail Hollow (twice) and Riviera, he won't be bothered by almost 7,500 yards on the card. He's never missed the cut in three previous tries, and all are T24 or better.
Collin Morikawa (+1800) is off to a red-hot start in 2023, including a solo second, solo third and T6 from four starts. Unlike his fellow west coast players listed above, the Las Vegas resident has cracked the code in the Sunshine State on Bermuda against a big field. Morikawa won the WGC-Workday at the Concession in 2021, played at 7,564 yards. His last visit to Bay Hill in 2020 cashed T9.
There's a west coast theme among the next three choices, all listed at +2000. Patrick Cantlay has never played this event but rolls in after solo third his last time out at Riviera.
Utah native Tony Finau, who currently resides in Scottsdale, has seen the weekend twice from four visits at Bay Hill and the best of the bunch is T28. He'll point out that he's not finished worse than T20 in five events in 2023 and he won on an Arnold Palmer design at the 3M Open last summer.
Xander Schauffele has teed it up once here and cashed T24 in the 2020 edition. Top 10s at the desert destinations of American Express (T3) and WM Phoenix Open (T10) are his 2023 highlights.
Jupiter resident Justin Thomas (+2200) is just outside the top five and made his only visit in 2015 (T49) but doesn't have many problems on Bermuda. He's won two PGA Championships on that surface, and both were not small ballparks by any measurement. Don't dismiss his PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP or Honda Classic titles on Florida soil, either!
Here are some other notable odds, as players look to tame a demanding layout before setting their sights on TPC Sawgrass:
+2200: Will Zalatoris
+3000: Viktor Hovland
+3300: Jason Day, Sungjae Im, Tyrrell Hatton
+3500: Cameron Young
+4000: Matt Fitzpatrick, Sam Burns
+4500: Jordan Spieth, Tom Kim
+5000: Sahith Theegala
+5500: Chris Kirk, Keith Mitchell, Shane Lowry, Hideki Matsuyama
+6000: Rickie Fowler, Tommy Fleetwood, Keegan Bradley
+8000: Corey Conners, Gary Woodland, Seamus Power
+9000: Justin Rose, Si Woo Kim
+10000: Aaron Wise, Adam Scott, Billy Horschel, Russell Henley, Taylor Montgomery, Wyndham Clark, Tom Hoge
Of course, Bay Hill isn’t the only course hosting a PGA TOUR event this week. Another full field has gathered on the Island of Enchantment for the Puerto Rico Open, where former TOUR winner Nate Lashley (+1400) opened as a betting favorite. He’s followed by Ben Martin (+1600), who reinvigorated his career with a T2 finish at another oceanside venue at Punta Cana last spring, and Andrew Novak (+2000).
Akshay Bhatia (+2800) will look to improve upon last week’s T49 finish at The Honda Classic, while odds on Ryan Gerard (+3000) have slimmed considerably after the Honda Monday qualifier went on to finish fourth last week at PGA National.
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