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Saddle up McIlroy on one of his favorite tracks this week at Bay Hill

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Horses for Courses

Saddle up McIlroy on one of his favorite tracks this week at Bay Hill

    Written by Mike Glasscott @MikeGlasscott

    Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge outside Orlando continues the run of familiar courses on the schedule for the PGA TOUR.

    Hosting a TOUR event since 1979 the Dick Wilson and Joe Lee design from the early 1960s is classic Florida golf with Palmer's modern enhancements. The addition of TifEagle Bermuda greens for the 2016 edition was the last major overhaul.

    Experience should play a part this week, especially with the wind forecast to blow from late Thursday through Saturday.

    Scottie Scheffler (+900) proved last season that multiple reps aren't necessary to pick up the big check (and red cardigan) at the end of the week. The Texan handled the wind and conditions better than most and won in just his second trip after T15 in 2021.

    Rory McIlroy (+1000) broke a run of five consecutive years inside the top 10 with T13 last year. The 2018 champion has never missed in eight visits over the last eight years and T27 is his only payday outside T13. The Ulsterman will vouch for the difficulty of Bay Hill as only three of his last 12 rounds here are in the 60s.

    Known to run hot at times, Englishman Tyrrell Hatton (+3300) has been more than cool in the recent difficult conditions outside Orlando. The 2020 winner posted the highest winning total (4 under) in his fourth visit and matched that total last year while tying for second. Of the players entered this week, only McIlroy has pocketed more cash here and needed two more starts to do so. Hatton's third top 10 from six starts was T4 in his 2017 debut.

    Given a chance in the field as an amateur back in 2014, Matt Fitzpatrick (+3300) has returned the last seven seasons. During his run he's stuck around for the weekend six times, including the last four years inside the top 10. The best of the bunch was falling one short to Francesco Molinari (+20000) in 2019.

    Making his seventh consecutive visit Tommy Fleetwood (+6600) will look to add to his five T26 or better paydays. The Englishman has set a trend for hitting the top 10 in odd numbered years so 2023 fits! Of his 22 rounds, 13 are in the red.

    Hard to ignore Keegan Bradley (+6000) as he will look to extend his run to 11 straight weekends. A pair of podium finishes in 2013 and 2014 kicked off his streak and T10 in 2021 and T11 in 2022 have provided the bookend, for the moment. He shares the post-2015 course record of 64 with McIlroy and Molinari, as he posted that in Round 3 in 2021.

    Oddsmaker’s Extra

    (cuts made/event starts; odds)

    Chris Kirk (7/11; +5500): Just like Honda last week, his last two at Bay Hill (T5, T8) are his best two. Also has six T25 or better with five of those T15 or better. Sizzle.

    Sungjae Im (4/4; +3300): T3 in 2019 debut followed with solo third in 2020. The last two years he's "cooled" with T20 and T21.

    Keith Mitchell (4/4; +5000): Similar to Im, he started hot with T6 in 2019 backed with T5 in 2020 before not cracking the top 40 the last two years. He led or co-led the field in birdies in 2019 and 2020.

    Jordan Spieth (1/1; +4500): Sat two back of the 54-hole lead before cashing T4 in his only visit in 2021.

    Jason Day (7/11; +3300): Only top 10 is his victory in 2016 but also has five T25 or better.

    Zach Johnson (18/19; +22500): Made cut run is now 12 in a row.

    Top 20 OWGR (not listed above)

    PlayerStarts/Cuts MadeTop 10Best FinishOdds
    01 Jon Rahm1/10T17 2022650
    04 Patrick Cantlayfirst appearance+2000
    06 Xander Schauffele1/10T24 20202000
    07 Will Zalatoris2/21T10 20222200
    08 Max Homa3/31T10 20211800
    09 Justin Thomas1/10T49 20152500
    10 Collin Morikawa2/21T9 20201800
    11 Viktor Hovland4/41T2 20223000
    12 Tony Finau2/40T28 20172200
    14 Sam Burns4/51T9 20224000
    15 Tom Kimfirst appearance5000
    16 Cameron Young 1/10T13 20223300
    19 Billy Horschel9/101T2 202210000
    20 Shane Lowry0/40mc5500

    There’s also some course history to note at the Puerto Rico Open, where another full field will tee off this week with hopes of earning FedExCup points and improving (or obtaining) long-term TOUR status. Here’s a look at some horses that stand out at Grand Reserve Golf Club, which has served as a springboard for players such as Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and most recently Viktor Hovland:

    A winner here in 2013, Scott Brown (+8000) has never missed the cut in all 10 of his visits, with half resulting in top-10 paydays. … Sponsor’s exemption Josh Teater (+5000) came close in 2020 (second behind Hovland) and has followed with T22 results the last two season. … It just means more to Puerto Rico native Rafael Campos (+6600). His last five starts here have reached the weekend, and three went for top-10 finishes including his best (T3) in 2021. … Nobody loves a trend more than I do, and Brice Garnett (+3500) is on one here! His last three starts have been the best of his six career appearances (T7, T5 and T20). … Chris Stroud (+5500) hasn’t teed it up here since a career-best T8 in 2017. He’s cashed in six straight, including the last five at T27 or better.

    -odds courtesy of BETMGM.COM-

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