The Arnold Palmer Invitational doesn’t attract quite the field it once did but with 30 of the world top-50 on site at Bay Hill this week it remains one of the stronger fields of the year.

The course at Bay Hill is synonymous with Palmer who bought the property in 1975 and, like Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village, made constant changes to continue to challenge the game’s best.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Bryson DeChambeau was a one stroke winner over Lee Westwood last year though his victory was somewhat overshadowed by his own highly publicised attempts to drive the green at the par-5 6th hole.

While the scorecard distance is an unfeasible 500 metres, the hole bends around a lake and on a direct line requires a carry of little more than 320 metres to find the putting surface.

RIGHT: After wowing the fans with his power and claiming the trophy and red cardigan in 2021, Bryson won't defend this week thanks to injury. PHOTO: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images.

DeChambeau declined the attempt because of wind the first two days but on Saturday of the tournament hit a tee shot slightly right of the green that left him an approach of less than 50 metres.

Forgotten in all the hype is that he started the final round one behind Lee Westwood and in difficult conditions shot a one-under round of 71 to take the title.

However, he won’t have the chance to repeat those heroics as he has withdrawn from the tournament due to an ongoing injury.

COURSE: Known as Arnold Palmer’s personal playground, the Bay Hill Club and Lodge gets little love from the architecture crowd though almost always plays host to an exciting finish.

While Bay Hill is a resort that charges the paying public a premium to experience, its main purpose is to test the field at the annual PGA Tour event and it does a decent job.

Plentiful hazards – of both the sand and water variety – await wayward shots and winners here have historically tended to be good iron players.

The finish at Bay Hill is particularly challenging with the par-3 17th and par-4 18th both averaging over their allotted par during tournament week.

A player leaving the par-5 16th Sunday with a one or two shot lead is far from comfortable with disaster lurking at every turn over the final two holes.

Water on three sides of a small green at the short 17th ensure a rapid heartbeat, while both the drive and approach to the final hole must also flirt with water.

Bay Hill's 18th may not be an architectural classic, but it has provided plenty of drama over the years. PHOTO: David Cannon/Getty Images.

Scores at the tournament are heavily influenced by weather conditions though in the past decade only once (2020) has the winning score not been double digits under par.

PRIZEMONEY: US$12,000,000

PLAYERS TO WATCH: In some ways it’s hard to know where to turn this week given a course that is an archetypal modern tournament test and a field boasting a smattering of the best in the world.

Iron play is often the key at Bay Hill and in that department Will Zalatoris leads the Tour in stokes gained Approach this season.

RELATED: So-called expert golf tips for this week

The 25-year-old finished T10 here last year and has some strong connections to the tournament namesake having attended Wake Forest University, as did Palmer.

Putting tends to be Zalatoris’ Achilles heel (he’s outside the top-150 in that category) but if he has a half decent week with the blade could easily be a contender.

2018 champion Rory McIlroy is a perennial contender here and can’t be left out of considerations.

He’s not in the class of Tiger who owns eight wins here, but he has never missed the cut in seven appearances and only twice has he been outside the top-10.

England’s Matt Fitzpatrick has been flying under the radar but has a good record at Bay Hill with three top-10 finishes in seven starts and good recent form with top 10’s at both Pebble Beach and the Phoenix Open.

The course sets up well for the Englishman’s game and he will be quietly confident of capturing a maiden U.S. victory this week.

A seven-time winner in Europe he has all the tools required to win at this level and the opportunity may well present this week.

Less well known but perhaps worth following this week will be South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

A final round 66 last week at the Honda Classic combined with a top-10 here last year will see him start the week in a good frame of mind.

Also a multiple winner in Europe, Bezuidenhout knows how to get the job done and, like Fitzpatrick, would relish the opportunity this week.

72-HOLE RECORD: 264 (-24, Payne Stewart, 1987)

18-HOLE RECORD: 62 (Andy Bean, 1981; Greg Norman, 1984; Adam Scott, 2014)

PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Rod Pampling (2006), Jason Day (2016) and Marc Leishman (2017).

AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Cam Davis, Marc Leishman, Lucas Herbert, Min Woo Lee, Matt Jones and Adam Scott.

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