For the second leg of the Florida Swing, the PGA Tour is in Orlando at Bay Hill Club & Lodge this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Understandably, this tournament brings out most of the biggest names in golf. Players want to win any tournament they enter, but this one is extra special because of its namesake.
Bay Hill is long and certainly favors the bombers.
Tiger Woods – an eight-time winner at Bay Hill – withdrew earlier this week due to a neck strain. He was certainly one of the favorites before that news broke.
Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, is back to defend his title from a year ago and headlines the star-studded field.
So which players should you be paying extra attention to this week?
We asked three caddies on the ground at Bay Hill to give us their picks to win. To protect their identity, they made their picks anonymously. Here are the players they like…
- Michael Thompson. “Michael is having a career-changing season. Has been knocking on the door all year. Last week’s T16 at the Honda Classic was his WORST finish in his last five starts. The man is playing fantastic. And he loves a hard track.”
- Henrik Stenson. “He always plays well at Bay Hill. Since 2013, outside of one missed cut two years ago, Stenson has never finished worse than T8. Over that span, he second, third, fourth and fifth at Bay Hil. History shows this is the time of year he pounces. He’s fresh and ready to go with the WGC-Mexico Championship having been his lone PGA Tour start thus far in the season.”
- Lucas Glover. “He is hitting it from the middle a lot right now. His iron play is stellar, which is much needed around the tough Bay Hill. His dedication and practice is in full-steam mode. Unless you are an avid watcher of golf, you probably haven’t noticed his record of late. It’s on point – seven, top-17 finishes, including three top 7s in eight starts.”
- Rory McIlroy. “He’s coming off a strong performance at the WGC-Mexico Championship (runner up) and a week’s rest. His past performance on this course, highlighted by a win last year, makes him a yearly favorite.”
- Phil Mickelson. “It’s great to see Phil return to Bay Hill. He’s off to a strong start this year with the win at Pebble. He had one weird day at the Mexico Championship – an uncharacteristic 79 in the opening round – and that is behind him. He has won here before (1997) and I expect him to be in the mix Sunday.”
- Keith Mitchell. “Why not? Last week’s winner is playing with a ton of confidence. He’s one of the longest hitters on tour. He’s playing with house money now and should have himself another solid week.”
- Rory McIlroy. “He plays well here. As the defending champion and a great long-ball hitter, he’s my No. 1.”
- Rickie Fowler. “Sooner or later, he’s going to win this one. Seems like he’s hovered around the top 10 at Bay Hill a bunch and had a T3 here in 2013. He’s been playing very well over the last month – the win in Scottsdale, the T2 finish last week at Honda. Look for him to contend once again for the trophy.”
- Ryan Moore. “He’s the sleeper pick of the week. Ryan has a nice historical record here and will look to add to that.”