See below as we run through the tournaments for you including facts, odds and picks from our own golfing professional Cliff Jackson and 32Red’s Jack Milner.
ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL
- Bay Hill Club, Florida
- First staged in 1966
- Current champion is Rory McIlroy
OVERVIEW: The Arnold Palmer has been growing in stature in recent years. The PGA grants the winner a three-year exemption which is on par with the WGC events, Tour Championship and Memorial Tournament.
As of 2019, the tournament also becomes part of The Open qualifying and means three non-exempt players will gain entry.
Rory McIlroy defends the red jumper, on offer to the winner in memory of Arnold Palmer, and is firm favourite to win again at Bay Hill, but there are some really big names teeing it up with the likes of Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood all competing.
TOP TEN BETTING:
- Doha Golf Club, Doha
- First staged in 1998
- Current champion is Eddie Pepperell
OVERVIEW: Issues with Qatar and the rest of the Arab world, there continues to be diplomatic issues which has seen this tournament suffer – especially in terms of value, and as a result the field is less than impressive.
England’s Eddie Pepperell is the defending champion but he won’t be defending his title leaving Belgium’s Thomas Pieters as clear favourite.
TOP TEN BETTING:
The Bookies point of view…
32Red’s Sponsorship manager Jack Milner delivers a weekly verdict on each tournament.
I’m loathe to side with short-priced market leaders in golf events but have had to back the pair of Justin Rose and Bryson Dechambeau for this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at 11/1 and 14s respectively. The defection of Tiger Woods is a stinger for the event, but with Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler there is still plenty of firepower at the top.
Rory was imperious in victory 12 months ago, and enters in a rich vein of form, but has failed to close out five consecutive tournaments, despite five consecutive top five finishes and unlucky to bump into a red-hot Dustin Johnson at the WGC in Mexico two weeks ago.
Nevertheless, I’d much rather side with Rose, who will return to his rightful place as World Number One, with a T7 or better finish this week and Dechambeau, who will be far better suited to the test of Bay Hill as opposed to the altitude tests of Mexico.
Rory bested both Dechambeau and Rose after a final round 64 here last year, with the three of them five shots clear of Henrik Stenson in fourth, and a further three shots clear of the field. Since them however, McIlroy has yet to enter the winners’ enclosure whereas Rose has won three times, and Bryson five times as the pair continue to improve.
The cream invariably rises to the top in Qatar, with last year’s winner Eddie Pepperrell emulating former winners Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia and Branden Grace. The event is missing the star-power of that calibre with Thomas Pieters the 11/1 favourite with us at 32Red, and happy to be top price the temperamental Belgian, given his poor record of converting since his last win at the Made in Denmark in August 2016.
He is overlooked, as is the English duo of Jordan Smith and Tom Lewis, in favour of Victor Dubuisson. The Frenchman is coming back after several nagging injuries but has improved on all three starts since returning from an absence of 12 months in recent events in Dubai (T38) – Saudi Arabia (T18) and Oman (T12). At 33/1, I expect him to continue improving until he returns to full fitness.
I was impressed by the manner of JB Hansen’s week in Oman, despite finding the water on 18 when needing to birdie to force a play-off, and can’t believe he’s 66/1 to win this week in Qatar. The big-hitting Dane earned his European Tour card courtesy of two wins on The Challenge Tour last season and boasts the pedigree to take to the tour with aplomb.
The pro’s point of view…
Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.
Not a great two event week, the Arnold Palmer looks a great field but the same can’t be said of the Qatar Masters.
But I am going to have to go with the favourites this week – I don’t see how Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters finished outside the top-five in either, let alone top-ten – it looks a straight forward double pick for me this week.