Rory McIlroy has gone 16 months without a victory and the four-time Major champion is teeing up in this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational getting increasingly desperate for silverware.
McIlroy is keeping himself busy – next week’s Players Championship will be his fourth tournament on the spin – hoping to lift a trophy before heading into April’s Masters.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational provided a boost for McIlroy in 2018 – he conjured final-round fireworks to win in fine style – and his record in the event is excellent.
If the Northern Irishman suddenly finds his A-game this week, then punters taking the
8/1 against his name will be on good terms with themselves.
The man himself, though, was in negative mood after last week’s WGC at The Concession, explaining to reporters that he is missing shots both right and left, struggling for control.
On a course like Bay Hill, which is covered in water hazards, there seems a fair chance that McIlroy will make one or two card-busting errors.
Dechambeau Keen on Driving Heroics
Bryson DeChambeau has been hogging the early headlines at Bay Hill this week – the longest driver on the PGA Tour has hopes of driving a par-five.
The sixth hole is 589 yards on the scorecard – a right-to-left dogleg which bends around an enormous lake – but DeChambeau says he can set up some albatross putts with a cavalier approach.
There is a carry of about 360 yards from the tee to the green – going directly over the lake – and DeChambeau has hinted that he will be taking on the challenge.
If the cocksure Californian has four albatross putts at the sixth, then the pre-tournament
12/1 offer will be full of juice. But, obviously, if he gets his aggressive tactics wrong and dumps his ball into the aqua, he could run up a cricket score.
DeChambeau backers may be in for a week of boom or bust. He finished runner-up to McIlroy in the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational, so could compete on the track long before he turned himself into a musclebound brute.
Hatton May Upstage the Big Names Again
If McIlroy fails to raise his game and DeChambeau’s gung-ho strategy proves disastrous, then Tyrrell Hatton will probably be waiting to take advantage.
Hatton finished fourth on his Bay Hill debut in 2017, then won the tournament last year with a gutsy four-under-par effort in brutal conditions.
That PGA Tour breakthrough highlighted how Hatton has become a member of the elite. He followed up with victory in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth – the European Tour’s flagship event – then started this year with a four-shot romp in the Abu Dhabi Championship.
McIlroy was his main Sunday foe in Abu Dhabi, but Hatton destroyed his opponent and will appeal to many this week at
The Buckinghamshire boy chipped poorly in the WGC last week, finishing in 22nd place, but a return to his standard short-game form should see a stout title defence.
*All odds correct at time of writing