Depending on your exposure, fusion might be most familiar as the scientific process in which multiple particles come together. You may also think of it as when jazz met rock and roll. Or maybe the winner of the word association is the popular sedan.
With Tiger Woods performing as well as he has in 2018, we have to wonder if back surgeons are getting flooded with inquiries on another application: fusion surgery.
Then there are the folks who play fantasy golf and lean on the fusion of current form with course history to identify value. Lo and behold, Woods is the father of all synergies at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. With eight victories at Bay Hill Golf Club and Lodge, his margin over Vijay Singh in second place on the tournament's all-time money list is more than $2 million greater than The Big Fijian’s total.
Despite Woods' incredible success at Bay Hill, he's seeing the four-year-old renovation for the first time this week. Scroll past the ranking for more on how Palmer's beloved test has matched up in the 120-man invitational.
POWER RANKINGS: ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL
15 Henrik Stenson 14 Patrick Reed 13 Rickie Fowler 12 Francesco Molinari 11 Emiliano Grillo 10 Marc Leishman 9 Tyrrell Hatton 8 Kiradech Aphibarnrat 7 Adam Scott 6 Brian Harman 5 Alex Noren 4 Tommy Fleetwood 3 Jason Day 2 Justin Rose 1 Tiger Woods
Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson and Kevin Chappell will be among the notables covered in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider.
This is the 40th edition of the API at Bay Hill. No course could claim to have evolved as much as the stock par 72 in Orlando. The latest sweeping modifications greeted the 2015 field with new Celebration bermudagrass on the fairways and TifEagle Bermuda on the greens (which are not overseeded).
If it can be accepted that three years of play and data are required before attaching identity and expectations to any course after a renovation, then Bay Hill has hit the bull's-eye. Last year's scoring average of 72.890 was a four-year high, but moderate-to-gusty winds challenged the field in the first and final rounds. The bottom line is that the course rewards all strengths upon execution. Consider that the leaders in distance of all drives (Rory McIlroy), fairways hit (Adam Hadwin), greens in regulation (champion Marc Leishman), proximity to the hole (McIlroy) and scrambling (Hadwin) all finished inside the top six on the leaderboard.
Leishman's pace of 11-under 277 was the highest in six years. As referenced above, he got the job done by eliminating the need to scramble more than anyone else, but he also ranked second in strokes gained: putting. Not surprisingly given the value of par, the Aussie also co-led in bogey avoidance in which eight of the 11 golfers who finished inside the top 10 on the leaderboard ranked inside the top 10 for the tournament.
While the absence of dozens of trees felled by Hurricane Irma last September may be noticeable to eyes familiar with the property, the only relevant change to gameplay at Bay Hill since last year occurred beside the green of the par-3 second hole. The bank in between it and the creek isn't as severe. And despite numerous upgrades, the course will tip at 7,419 yards for the eighth straight year.
Terrific weather is on tap throughout the tournament. Gradually warming daytime highs into the low 80s by Sunday will be accompanied by light breezes and primarily cloudless skies.
The winner will earn a three-year PGA TOUR exemption as well as berths into the next three editions of THE PLAYERS.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton will be filing his usual staples leading up to this week’s event. Look for the following columns this week.
MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider, Facebook Live
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO, which also publishes on Tuesdays.