The PGA Tour returns to Bay Hill Club and Lodge this week for the 56th edition of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Who will don the red cardigan?
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Entertaining Englishman Tyrrell Hatton shot four-under-par 284 last year, defeating Australia’s 2017 champion Marc Leishman by one shot. It was the six-time European Tour winner’s maiden victory on the PGA Tour.
COURSE: The iconic course at Bay Hill Club and Lodge opened in 1961 and was designed by Dick Wilson. The legendary Arnold Palmer purchased the course in 1975 and made minor tweaks to the layout until his death in 2016. It has hosted this event since 1979.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
It would be impossible not to mention 2018 champion Rory McIlroy here. The Northern Irishman has never missed any weekend action at Bay Hill and hasn’t finished outside the top-six since 2016.
McIlroy missed his first cut since the Open Championship in 2019 at The Genesis Invitational two weeks ago, however he rebounded immediately to share sixth place at The Concession last week.
The 31-year-old hasn’t won an official event since defeating Xander Schauffele in extra time at the WGC-HSBC Champions in November, 2019. You can expect that winless streak to end sooner rather than later.
RIGHT: Hatton won his first PGA Tour title at Bay Hill last year, defeating Leishman by one stroke. PHOTO: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images.
Marc Leishman is second in all-time earnings at Bay Hill – behind eight-time champion Tiger Woods – finishing T3rd here in 2011, winning in 2017 and finishing runner-up to Hatton last year.
The Victorian struggled after the PGA Tour returned from its coronavirus hiatus in June, missing five cuts from 12 starts prior to his share of 13th at the Masters in November.
Leishman has started the New Year showing promising signs – and he recorded his first top-10 (T4th at the Sony Open in Hawaii in mid-January) since finishing second at Bay Hill last year.
72-HOLE RECORD: Payne Stewart shot 20-under-par 264 to defeat David Frost by three shots in 1987. Buddy Allin, meanwhile, reached 23-under-par 265 when he bested Charles Coody by eight shots in 1973.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Marc Leishman (2017), Jason Day (2016) and Rod Pampling (2006).
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Cameron Davis, Jason Day, Matt Jones, Marc Leishman and Cameron Percy.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 6am – 10am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 6am – 10am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 4:30am – 10am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 4:30am – 10am)
*AEDT, check local guides