When asked during his press conference on Wednesday, was he disappointed that World Number one Rory McIlroy would not play in his tournament, Arnold Palmer replied, totally with tongue in cheek, no but he was going to break his arm. Rory has always committed to playing at Jack Nicklaus’ tournament, The Honda Classic, but never Bay Hill.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational Golf Tournament at Bay Hill gets underway on Thursday morning with a nice field of top class players. On hand will be Tiger Woods, who if he wins his eight API, will overtake the youngster from Northern Ireland for the OWGR number one position.
Also in attendance is the current FedEx Cup points leader, Brandt Snedeker. Snedeker is making his return after taking the last five weeks off due to problems with his ribs that he aggravated at the Humana Challenge. He played through the pain, and finished second to Tiger Woods at the Farmers Insurance, and to Phil Mickelson at Phoenix before getting his at Pebble Beach.
A couple of the top European players, including World Number three, Luke Donald, 2011 Masters Champ, Charl Schwartzel, and three time major champion, Padraig Harrington will not be at Bay Hill this weekend. They have went off to Malaysia for the Maybank Maylasia Open in Kuala Lumpur, to fulfill their European Tour commitment, as well as get back in the Race to Dubai picture.
Some of the featured groups to watch for at Bay Hill on Thursday and Friday are, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, and Justin Rose. Woods has won here seven times, including last year, which sparked the stretch he’s currently on with five victories in his last 18 stroke-play starts on the PGA TOUR. Els has won here, too, winning in 2010 and 1998. Rose has finished in the top 8 in his two stroke-play starts on TOUR this season. They’ll tee off at 8:05 a.m. ET on Thursday and 12:45 p.m. on Friday.
Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, and Brandt Snedeker. Garcia is coming off a tie for seventh in Tampa and a tie for third at Doral, while Mickelson, who won here in 1997, is also coming off a tie for third at Doral. They’ll tee off at 12:45 p.m. ET on Thursday and 8:05 a.m. on Friday.
Bubba Watson, Bill Haas, and Webb Simpson. Haas and Simpson both have a mixed record at Bay Hill, though they do have a couple of top-20 finishes between them. They’ll tee off at 12:56 p.m. ET on Thursday and 8:16 a.m. on Friday.
Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, and Keegan Bradley. Poulter finished third here last year and 11th the year before. Bradley, who missed the cut in 2011, is playing here for just the second time. They’ll tee off at 8:16 a.m. ET on Thursday and 12:56 p.m. on Friday.
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