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Power Rankings: Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard

3 Min Read

Power Rankings

Power Rankings: Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard

    All-time shots from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer advised to swing your swing. Well, Florida most definitely swings its own Swing.

    The Sunshine, er, “Sunshine” State – air quotes required, at least in the context of the final few minutes of The Honda Classic – always takes a swing at PGA TOUR membership. From the hardest par 70 in a non-major that is PGA National’s Champion Course to one of the most difficult par 72s in a non-major that is the Bay Hill Club and Lodge for the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, this fortnight has the feel of midterm exams.

    Spring will break soon enough, but the 120 in the field at Bay Hill need to keep their noses in the books this week. For a description of how it sets up and other details concerning the tournament, continue reading beneath the ranking of projected contenders.


    The Honda Classic champion Sepp Straka, Adam Scott, Tommy Fleetwood, Luke List and 2021 API runner-up Lee Westwood will be among the notables reviewed in Tuesday’s Draws and Fades.

    Bryson DeChambeau’s title defense will not be. His return is on ice for at least another year as he continues to heal and recover from injuries to his left hip and left wrist.He withdrew from the tournament on Monday.

    DeChambeau’s DNP guarantees that another will claim 550 FedExCup points, $2.16 million (of a $12-million purse), a three-year membership exemption (or extension, depending on current status) and a three-year exemption into THE PLAYERS Championship with the win at Bay Hill.

    Whoever captures victory will have gone to work, too.

    It was just two years ago when Bay Hill’s scoring average of 74.106 was the highest among all par 72s in non-majors over a four-year period, and it hasn’t been eclipsed since, either. It eased last year, but the 73.015 that it yielded still slots as Bay Hill’s second-highest scoring average of the last nine years. It was influenced by a final-round split of 75.486 that itself was inflated by sustained winds and gusts exceeding 20 mph.

    That’s the thing about Florida. If the breezes aren’t blowing, it’s doing it wrong.

    This week’s prime time for scoring will be the opening round when relatively calm air is forecast. Winds will freshen by Friday and remain that way throughout the weekend. Daytime highs will be in the 80s with gradual warming into the final round. Also, although dry conditions are expected in Orlando, as PGA National proved on Sunday, never say never as it concerns a rain shower in these climes.

    All that aside, Bay Hill doesn’t need Mother Nature’s help in presenting a consistently firm and fair test. Bermuda greens, which are not overseeded, will have every opportunity to touch 13½ feet on the Stimpmeter. That they are larger than average does mitigate the challenge of finding them in regulation, but overseeded primary rough of 3½ inches and taller doesn’t. Still, having shorter approaches no matter the lie is preferred because greens average 7,500 square feet.

    With the full allotment of four par 5s on the 7,466-yard walk, power and precision tee to green will be setting the stage for Sunday’s leaderboard. DeChambeau occupied the bull’s-eye of that objective last year. He led the field in distance of all drives – his blasts over the water and within 90 yards of the green at the par-5 sixth in the final two rounds were the most memorable – and Strokes Gained: Off-the Tee.

    DeChambeau also ranked second in SG: Tee-to-Green, T2 in greens in regulation and T3 in par-5 scoring. The bonus is that he paced the field in par-3 scoring, no easy feat given that the quartet of one-shotters tied for the ninth-toughest set all season.


    PGATOUR.COM’s Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous perspectives. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.

    MONDAY: Power Rankings (API)
    TUESDAY*: Power Rankings (PRO), Sleepers (API), Draws and Fades
    WEDNESDAY: Pick ’Em Preview
    SUNDAY: Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Rookie Ranking

    * - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.

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