Golf | Arnold Palmer Invitational
If familiarity breeds contempt then Tiger Woods must really hate the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he’s won an unprecedented seven titles.
The reigning champion returns to the scene of his first Tour win since ex-wife Elin Nordegren took a nine-iron to his head, their marriage and his career in 2009 after a well-publicised sex scandal.
With Woods now playing a-around with Nordegren prototype Lindsay Vonn Paddy Power is paying 1/4 the odds the first 6 places and Money-Back if your player birdies the 18th hole on Sunday.
There’s about three weeks to the first Major of the season – the US Masters at Augusta and Tiger is starting to show the kind of form that has made him a 14-time Major Champion.
Victory in the $6.2m event would see Tiger leapfrog the absent Rory McIlroy to top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings in a tournament that has thrown up four overseas winners in seven years. But there’s plenty of star quality in the field gunning for Tiger’s crown.
1. Brandt Snedeker: 20/1
Victory at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, a second, joint-second and third in four appearances meant Snedeker’s early-season form was hotter than Mila Kunis.
The leading money winner on the Tour and reigning Fed-Ex Cup champion could look mighty big at 20/1 with Paddy Power if fully recovered from the bruised ribs that forced him to take the last month off.
2. Sergio Garcia: 20/1
The Spaniard was tied third behind Woods in the Cadillac Championship two weeks ago and has five top 10 finishes in 11 years at Bay Hill despite finishing 33rd last season.
Tee to green is rarely a problem for Garcia and he has really tightened up with the flat stick this year. Three top 10 finishes on the Tour gives him a solid each-way chance at 20/1.
3. Graeme McDowell: 20/1
Three Top 10 finishes in-a-row this season has justified the 2010 US Open winner’s decision to take some down time at the end of last year. One of the most accurate players off the tee Gmac shot a 63 on day two two last year. Even a final round 74 didn’t stop him finishing runner-up. His game is in a much better place now and finished tied-third (with Garcia and Mickelson) behind Woods at Doral.
4. Bubba Watson: 28/1
While Americans have won the first 12 tournaments on the US Tour this season the last time non-US players went 13 times without winning a title was 1989.
Bubba’s masterstroke approach to the green from an impossible angle on the second sudden death play-off hole gave him the Green Jacket over Louis Oosthuizen and propelled him into the big time. But the ground work was done with a convincing fourth-place finish here. Will want to put up a solid defence of his Masters’ title in three weeks by finishing in the frame here.
5. Ian Poulter: 35/1
Third here last year a stroke ahead of Watson last year and tees off with Gmac and Keegan Bradley on Thursday. The main man at the Ryder Cup in Medinah would relish playing the final day’s parings with Woods. But would Tiger fancy a face-off with the Englishman who’s a 35/1 poke with Paddy Power.
6. Phil Mickelson: 16/1
A flawless display at the Phoenix Open gave him his first win of 2013 before the wheels came off when finishing 60th at the At&T Pro-Am and 21st at the Northern Trust Open. Was joint-third with the major players at the Cadillac Championship and won’t want to let Tiger hog the limelight for too long. Has finished outside the top 20 on his last four starts at Bay Hill but did win here in 2007 before the extensive course redesign in 2010.