2015 Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks + Predictions, Plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #API

Way back when I was in college (yep, it’s officially “way back now,” man I’m getting old), the Bay Hill Invitational event always seemed to be the week of my spring break, which needless to say was my favorite week of the spring—meaning no classes—but also not totally my favorite in that I would always be traveling (somewhere warm and fun of course- oh to be young again!), but not around a television to watch one of the top non-majors on the PGA Tour calendar. Yep, I’m definitely a guy who centers his weekends around watching Tour coverage! #TourJunkie

The Arnold Palmer Invitational is a select field of 120, all of whom will get their first look at some new specially engineered sand that is designed to minimize plugged lies in the course’s 84 bunkers. Overall the track plays to a total yardage of 7,419 yards, with water hazards and deep rough throughout.

Another stacked field this week—what tourney in the Florida swing doesn’t boast a big field these days—as Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Harris English, Brooks Koepka and others will be teeing it up this week.

A solid week for my picks last week at the Valspar Championship, as my Lockzilla Henrik Stenson notched a solo 4th place finish, and I continued my red hot roll on my Hosel-Rocket BUST pick of the week as Sangmoon Bae slapped his way to a 67th place finish. Two of my other picks also had solid finishes (Westwood t-17th, Dufner t-24th), my only whiff was Charley Hoffman as he wildly missed the cut as my BOLD play of the week.

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: Henrik 4th, Westwood t-17th)

Jason Day
Jason Day
– Following a disappointing t-31st at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, no doubt that Day will be somewhat overlooked entering this week. I was surprised to see that this is Day’s fifth appearance at Bay Hill, with not much previous success as a t-25th back in ’10 is his best tourney finish to date. Have no fear on the lack of course history success, as Day has elevated his game to a world-class tier level player, and I’m not buying into the fact that he hasn’t thrived at this venue. Throw out the aforementioned t-31st at Doral and Day’s worst finish on Tour this year was a t-17th at the Sony Open, with his other three finished being a victory, t-3rd and t-4th. So yeah, he’s uber-talented folks. Lock and load this week.

Henrik Stenson
Henrik Stenson
– Straight chalk here, as a t-4th at Doral, followed by solo 4th last week at the Valspar and the Swedish Terminator is firing on all cylinders as we lead up to the year’s first major. Throw in that he’s 6/6 in cuts made here at Bay Hill, including t-5th last year and t-8th the year prior and yep, time to Swedish chalkify this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Last Week: Dufner t-24th)

Jason Kokrak
Jason Kokrak
– Following a five tourney stretch where his best finish was t-40th (Phoenix), Kokrak notched a sneaky solid t-7th last week at the Valspar, which included bookend rounds of 68. His prodigious length off the tee will be a notable benefit at Bay Hill, and he’s no stranger to Arnie’s course as he finished solo 4th here in his second appearance (MC in ’12). He will be hoisting a PGA Tour trophy sooner than later, and while it may not be this week expect another sneaky solid top 15ish finish for Kok.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last Week: Sangmoon 67th)

J.B. Holmes
J.B. Holmes
– No question about it, JB has had an outstanding season thus far as he has two second place finishes, including that playoff loss at Torrey Pines and his near miss at Doral just two weeks ago. Despite having plenty of course familiarity and a perfect 8/8 made cut record at Bay Hill, I have to trust my gut instincts here, as I’ve been red hot lately with my BUST plays basically since the turn of the calendar year, and I’m calling for a plethora of water hazard splish-splashing for JB this week.  His opening round at Doral was ridiculously amazing, but his final 3 rounds for the week were flimsy at best.  Stay away from the Kentucky train this week (unless we’re talking NCAA March Madness of course).

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last Week: Hoffman MC)

Webb Simpson
Webb Simpson
– The man seemingly born with a belly putter surgically attached to his naval has shed that anchor and is quietly playing some very solid golf this season. Sans a MC at the Northern Trust Open, Webb has gone t-13th at the Sony Open, t-7th at the Humana Challenge and a t-7th two weeks ago at Doral so far this calendar year. That’s nothing to sneeze at folks, the Wake Forest grad can flat out play, and despite a t-11th in ’09 being his best finish here, I’m calling for current form to take precedent and for Golf Channel’s Steve Sands to mention 973 times how Webb is “also” a Wake Forest grad while he’s in contention this week (with of course the tourney host Arnie being the other Demon Deacon). Webb Simpson is your Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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