An elite field is assembled at Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a tournament honoring the late great legend.
The calendar has now turned to March. Spring is almost upon us, and top-tier golf tournaments are the norm. The strongest field of the PGA Tour season will be assembled next week at the Players Championship. This week’s talent at the Arnold Palmer Invitational isn’t bad, either.
Five of the world’s top 10 and 11 of the top 20 will be teeing it up at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida. The API features just 120 players at this elevated status event, which features a larger purse and gives a three-year exemption to the winner instead of two.
In 1979, this Arnold Palmer affiliated event took over for the old Florida Citrus Open, which began in 1966. It’s been at Bay Hill since 1979, too, a course that provides nearly as tough of a test as the PGA Tour saw last week at PGA National.
The Dick Wilson design is a par 72 measuring at 7,381 yards.
Several trees were removed and fairways were widened in 2014. It’s made scoring easier, as we’ve seen winning scores in relation to par of 12-under, 18-under, 11-under, 17-under, and 19-under.
Only one winner was better than 13-under between 2005-2013 (Rod Pampling, -14, 2006).
There are good scores to be had at Bay Hill, but it requires good course management. Water comes into play on 10 holes and sand is prevalent.
Plenty of doglegs require players to think their way around and shape shots. It’s a windy time of the year in Florida, too.
The greens are Bermuda like what players saw last week at the Honda Classic.
Length is an asset at Bay Hill, but it’s not the end-all-be-all. Long iron play is important, though, as all four par-3s measure around 200 yards or more. Then there are four par-5s to go after.
The long-range forecast predicts warm, breezy conditions with rain perhaps in the middle of the tournament. It’ll be hard to fake it around Bay Hill this week.
Pour yourself a glass of Arnold Palmer’s famed lemonade and iced tea, and enjoy a good week for golf.