Arnold Palmer Invitational Preview

Arnold Palmer Invitational Preview

Arnold Palmer Invitational Preview

The “Bay Hill,” as it is known on tour, is one of the most-attended events on the PGA circuit. The reason for that is one person: Arnold Palmer. (Many people, though, will be of course watching this year's event to see Tiger try to win it again.) The King helped bring the game from the stuffy country club locker room to the blue-collar crowd, and he is directly responsible for helping to bring the game of golf to TV. For years television fought tooth-and-nail to not broadcast golf as it was a difficult sport to cover effectively. In fact, the first Masters broadcast was actually only four holes on Sunday, as the executives felt that the average sports fan could only sit through an hour of golf. Now, with every professional tour on all year long plus the Golf Channel (another Palmer creation), we almost have an overload situation.

As mentioned, people show up for Arnold’s tourney just as people showed up for Byron Nelson’s event in Dallas. It is a way for those legends to be honored year after year, and as they get older it becomes more important for all the players to make the appearance. Lets look to see which players are poised for a strong performance:

-- Favorites --

Tiger Woods

Yep, Palmer can even drag Woods away from the solitude of his practice regimen and yacht. Wood has a history of playing at Bay Hill, and that history consists of four previous titles. It’s a no-brainer, but look for Woods to hold up another sword – the trophy – at the end of this week, assuming he is not working on something particular for the Masters in a few short weeks.

Charles Howell III

Howell III is playing an incredible hot streak since the beginning of the season. He is number one in earnings, has won once and has several top three finishes, and rarely takes a week off. He might be getting a bit creaky under the workload, but his trending shows that he has a good chance to make another top-ten check this year.

Robert Allenby

This ranking is due completely to Allenby’s past performances in the Bay Hill event. He finished fourth last year, and is a quality player that grinds away when his game peaks at the right time.

Vijay Singh

His presence makes him a favorite, even if he is not firing at full speed recently. Singh had a marginal performance last week at the PODS championship, but he can always be counted on to play a full 72-hole tournament without mentally checking out.

-- Sleepers --

Mark Wilson

Look who is fourth on the money list. Sure, most of it is from one victory, but nevertheless, anyone that high on the list is playing fairly well. Look for Wilson to take the momentum of that previous win to several more top-20 finishes.

Hendrick Stenson

Stenson won the Accenture Match Play championship but most likely will be an unknown when he tees off on Thursday down in Orlando. Stenson is a strong pick this week, having time to recharge the batteries after the 120 holes he played to win the Match Play a few weeks back.

Trevor Immelman

A sleeper in name only, Immelman has played in six events, made five cuts and has placed in the top ten twice! That is the type of consistency you need to align yourself with each week.

Paul Goydos

Here is another example: events – five, cuts made – five, top ten finishes – one. He can walk into a mall and pass as an average guy, but he has years of experience carving out a living on the PGA tour. Goydos is a value pick as long as he has a perfect “cuts made” percentage.

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Re: Arnold Palmer Invitational Preview

PREVIEW - Bay Hill specialist Woods returns as hot favourite
By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Four-times champion Tiger Woods goes into this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Florida as favourite, despite playing only two PGA Tour events this year.

He triumphed in his first start, clinching the Buick Invitational by two shots, and was in the hunt for his eighth consecutive PGA Tour title at last month's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship until he lost in the third round.

The world number one came close to pulling off a Houdini-like escape against Australia's Nick O'Hern in a gripping encounter at Dove Mountain but missed a four-foot birdie putt for victory on the 19th green.

Although Woods has taken two weeks off since, his success rate at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge is second to none and he will also enjoy the added benefit of home comforts.

"Arnold has meant so much to this game and I always enjoy competing in his tournament," Woods said on his official website. "Plus I've had good success at Bay Hill."

The 31-year-old American, who lives about 10 minutes from the course, reeled off four consecutive wins there from 2000, including victory by a record margin of 11 strokes in 2003.

He will be making his 11th successive appearance at an event where he has never missed the cut and is the leading money winner with $2.9 million.

Held at Palmer's club since 1979, it has been unofficially described as "Arnie's tournament" for more than two decades and attracts one of the strongest fields of the season.

Apart from Woods, six other members of the world's top 10 are playing, and 12 of the leading 15.

FURYK WITHDRAWAL

World number two Jim Furyk withdraw last week because of a sore left wrist but third-ranked Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson (five), Ernie Els (six), Geoff Ogilvy (seven), Retief Goosen (eight) and Vijay Singh (nine) are all in the field.

Swede Stenson, who will make his debut in the event, is riding the crest of a golfing wave, having won back-to-back titles at the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic and the Accenture Match Play Championship.

One major difference for the players since last year is the change of the Bay Hill layout from a par-72 to a par-70, with the yardage reduced from 7,267 to 7,137.

"It's something I've been thinking about for a few years now, and I figured it was time, simply because the game is progressing along," Palmer said.

"Most of the guys are hitting irons into 16, and that will now play a par-four anyway. I think this will make it more interesting for the overall tournament in relation to par."

Australia's Rod Pampling will defend the title he won last year by a stroke from Britain's Greg Owen in a scrappy finish.

Englishman Owen, chasing his first PGA Tour victory, had been one ahead with two holes to play before finishing double-bogey, bogey.

The Arnold Palmer Invitational, the third event on the 2007 Florida Swing, starts on Thursday.

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Re: Arnold Palmer Invitational Preview

Arnold Palmer Invitational
by Brian Gabrielle

I’ve always liked Mark Calcavecchia. He looks and talks like a favorite uncle. Someone who has fun even when things aren’t going so well.

At the Honda Classic a week before he survived a couple shaky putts down the stretch to win last week’s PODS Championship, Calcavecchia was having a rough time on the greens. He knew he was going to miss the cut, so on his last hole Friday he broke out this Briny Baird flamingo-like putting stance for kicks. He missed the putt, probably about a ten-footer. He walked up to it, practically ran, then did a claw grip to tap it in. He was making fun of himself for his lousy putting that week, and also seemed to be suggesting that such stances and grips are silly acts of desperation.

Short game was the story last week, not just putting but also around the greens where the rough was July high. After Calcavecchia’s torrid putting led to a 62 on Saturday, the story became the putter he was using,which he bought for $256 at a nearby golf store.

The TV guys got hold of this one and wouldn’t let go. The repeated suggestion was that, just like you and me, a putter from the store can work as well as the best custom-made freebie Tour pros use. For just $256. Just go to your local golf store and plunk down your $256 and the fifty-footers will start falling.

I’m thinking a lot of husbands watching last weekend would have some explaining to do if they went out and bought a $256 putter. (For my part, even if I felt like I could drop $256 for a putter I wouldn’t because none of the putters I’ve used over the years have yielded better results than the others-I could use a mini golf putter and get the same results.)

Anyway, I hope to see more upper class exposure in the FX series The Riches, which debuted Monday night with limited commercial interruption (they had me right there). The premise here is that a family of hick scammers take the identity of a rich dude and his wife, whose vehicular deaths they are involved with, and make themselves at home. I’m curious to see how they’re going to pull this off---it’s already ridiculously implausible. And I’m especially interested in more scenes on the tee box. Golf depictions in movies or on TV shows are cliché at this point. But like lawyer jokes, I don’t really tire of them.


At this week’s Bay Hill Invitationa---oops, sorry, another name change on Tour this week. Take two: At this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, take Zach Johnson (80-1), 1/6 unit: This is based mainly on the price for someone whose young record at Bay Hill is pretty good: two top-10s and a T43 in three tries. I don’t see that it makes much, if any, difference that the host is counting two former par-5s as par-4s and par is now 70 instead of 72. If the course itself was lengthened, that would affect the short-hitting Johnson. It hasn’t been, he’s had good success at Bay Hill and he’s coming off a T14 at the major-like PODS last week. Good deal at 80-1.

Take Charles Howell III (28-1), 1/6 unit: Everyone’s got Thurston on their short list to win the Masters. He’ll be a good pick, no doubt. It’s still a few weeks away, though. He may be at an early season peak: he’s played seven tournaments and has made seven cuts, finishing out of the top-10 just twice. There was the win at the Nissan a few weeks ago and last week’s T6. He was on the cut line then shot 68, 65 on a difficult course. I look at a lot of stats, but I don’t focus enough on maybe the most important stat: Scoring Average. The Third leads the league in that category, which goes some way in explaining his great success through seven weeks this season.

Take Tiger Woods (9-4), 1/6 unit: The No. 1 player in the world won Palmer’s tournament four times straight.

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Re: Arnold Palmer Invitational Preview

Singh finally ends his heartache at Arnie's place
Sun, Mar 18, 2007
By Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Vijay Singh kept staring at the silver trophy from the Arnold Palmer Invitational, turning it slightly at the base to make sure his name was finally on the list of champions.

Even then, it must have been hard to believe.

Singh has been coming to Bay Hill for 15 years. He had left with nothing but three runner-up finishes and plenty of heartache. There was that bogey-bogey finish in 1994 to lose to Loren Roberts, the 7-iron into the lake on the 18th two years ago to lose to Kenny Perry.

He made sure that wouldn't happen Sunday.

Singh played so well in the middle that it didn't matter how bad it got at the end. Even with a bogey-bogey-par finish, the 44-year-old Fijian still matched the best score of the final round with a 3-under 67 that gave him a two-shot victory over Rocco Mediate.

''I knew how difficult Bay Hill plays on Sunday,'' he said. ''It was a good feeling to be standing on 18 tee knowing that you don't have to make a par to win the tournament.''

He played his approach far away from the water and wound up making par, anyway.

Singh, who finished at 8-under 272, became the first multiple winner on the PGA Tour this year. His 31st career victory tied him with Harry ''Lighthorse'' Cooper of England with the most by a foreign-born player.

''I love this place,'' Singh said. ''I hate the 18th hole, but I love the rest of it. It feels great. Having won Jack's tournament (Memorial) and now Arnie's, it's a great one to get.''

Mediate made three clutch par saves to keep alive his hopes, only to find trouble on the 18th for a bogey and a 67.

Vaughn Taylor, who had a two-shot lead going into the final round, didn't make a birdie until the 15th hole. His only other birdie came on the 18th to give him a 73 and third place, but it was not enough to move him into the top 50 in the world ranking and qualify for the World Golf Championship next week at Doral.

Ben Curtis closed with a 72 to finish fourth.

Tiger Woods delivered a dramatic finish, but not the kind anyone expected.

His chances ended with a three-putt double bogey on the 11th hole, and then a bad day got even worse. Woods hit his tee shot into the water on the par-3 17th and made double bogey. After chipping out of the rough on the 18th, he hit his third into the water and made triple bogey for a 43 on the back nine.

He closed with a 76, his highest score in a regular PGA Tour event since a 76 in the third round of the Memorial four years ago. Woods wound up tied for 22nd, ending his streak of 13 straight top 10s worldwide, nine of those on the PGA Tour.

Woods left the course without comment.

The sweetest words came from Palmer, who gave Singh an exemption to Bay Hill in 1993 when the Fijian was unknown in these parts. Singh went on to win at Westchester and was voted PGA Tour rookie of the year. And he never missed a trip back to Bay Hill.

Palmer was waiting for him when he walked off the 18th green.

''Arnold said, 'Well done. It was a long time coming,''' Singh said.

In a career that seems to have no end, Singh now has 19 victories since turning 40 - the same as Davis Love III, Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite won in their entire careers.

Perhaps it's only fitting that the trophy is topped by an image of Palmer lashing away with the driver. The King swung for the fences, and made a name for himself with so many daring escapes from trouble spots.

That might have been how Singh won the tournament.

Singh ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch to close out the front nine, and he was coming off a three-putt bogey on the 11th. He decided to go for the par-5 12th in two by hitting driver off the deck, but pulled it under a tree left of the green.

Thinking he was in trouble, Singh was thrilled to see a gap in the branches for him to hit wedge toward the green, and he surprised even himself by making a 20-foot birdie putt with about 6 feet of break.

Singh essentially sealed victory three holes later when he hit driver over the corner of two houses and a group of Magnolia trees on the 15th, so far that he had only sand wedge left to the green. He spun the ball off the slope to within 2 feet for birdie.

That allowed him room for mistakes, and he made his share with bogeys on the 16th and 17th that affected only the margin.

''It gives me belief that I can still win out here with the best of them, and not only once,'' Singh said. ''I can keep winning.''

The consolation for Mediate was his $594,000 for second place, more than enough for him to secure a job the rest of the year. Mediate started the season on a minor medical exemption because of a back injury last year, and he was given 10 tournaments to earn the equivalent of 125th on the 2006 money list.

''Ridiculous satisfaction,'' Mediate said. ''This is huge.''

Sergio Garcia also tried to make a run and got within two shots with a 15-foot birdie on the 13th. But he bogeyed the next two holes, missing a 4-foot par putt on the 15th, and finishing his round of 71 by missing another 4-footer on the 18th. He tied for fifth with John Rollins (71) and Tom Lehman (72).

Divots: Singh tied for best score of the day each of the last two rounds, both times with a 67. ... The winning score would have been 16 under if Palmer had not changed par to a 70. The winning score last year was 14-under 274. ... Mediate went 18 straight holes without a bogey until the 72nd hole. ... J.B. Holmes shot 49 on the front nine and was 15 over through his first 10 holes before he played his eight holes in 2 under for an 83. ... Lehman left Bay Hill knowing he would have to watch the Masters on TV. He needed second place alone for a chance to get to Doral and possibly the Masters.

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