Starts: 4th March 2021
Course: Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Florida
Length: 7,466 yards
2020 Champion: Tyrrell Hatton
Overall Profit/Loss: -10.25 pts
Pre-Event Bets: -3.25pts
1pt Paul Casey WIN Only - 25/1 @ Betfair
1pt Francesco Molinari WIN Only - 30/1 @ Betfair
1pt EW Kevin Na (1/5 1-10) - 45/1 @ Boylesports
0.5pts EW Chris Kirk (1/5 1-8) - 110/1 @ Bet365
0.5ptsEW Sebastian Munoz (1/5 1-8) - 140/1 @ Bet365
0.5pts EW Danny Lee (1/5 1-8) - 300/1 @ Bet365
1pt Adam Long Top 20 finish - 13/2 @ Bet365
1pt Will Gordon Top 20 finish - 15/2 @ Betfair
In-Play Bets: -7pts
5 March 2021 (-2pts)
0.5pts EW Brendan Steele (1/5 1-5) - 250/1 @ Skybet
0.5pts EW Doug Ghim (1/5 1-5) - 300/1 @ Skybet
6 March 2021(-3pts)
1.5pts Lanto Griffin WIN Only - 18/1 @ Boylesports
1.5pts Martin Laird WIN Only - 16/1 @ Spoerting Index
7 March 2021 (-2pts)
2pts Keegan Bradley WIN Only - 12/1 @ Bet365
Course Designer: Dick Wilson & Joe Lee. Subsequent re-design by Arnold Palmer
Couse used since: 1979
Type of Course: Parkland
Rough: Thick (3.5 inches)
Greens: Tifeagle Bermuda, 13 on the Stimp
Water Hazards: Nine holes
Par 5's: 4th, 6th, 12th and 16th
Premium on: Approach play and putting
Continue to exercise caution in relation to Covid-19 related withdrawals.
Ideal scoring conditions the first two days with sunshine and moderate breezes forecast. The weekend will challenge the players as rain is forecast on Saturday and the wind will pick up on Sunday.
Thursday: max 10mph winds forecast
Friday: max 10mph winds forecast
Saturday: max 14mph winds forecast
Sunday: max 20mph winds forecast
Last year was -4 but was between -11 and -19 for the previous eight.
Price of Winner
Tiger Woods won eight times between 2000 and 2013. Winners are generally sub-50/1 with a few exceptions.
Surprisingly, quite a few of the winners have solid Texas form. Also worth considering similar Florida tests like Valspar and Honda Classic.
Seven of the last ten champions had posted a top 5 finish.
Nine of the last 10 champions had posted a top 25 finish in their previous three starts.
The last five winners have all been European or Australian.
We are looking for accurate approach play and a hot putter.
SG: Off The Tee
The last four winners have ranked 36-2-42-46. Worth noting that Francesco Molinari was the only champion in the past five years to rank inside the top 20 in Driving Accuracy.
Only two champions have ranked inside the top 35 for Driving Distance in the past five years.
The last four winners have ranked 3-43-15-13. In general, good approach play has been important. Worth noting that three of the past four champions have ranked inside the top 15 for Greens in Regulation.
SG: Around The Green
At first glance not hugely important. Rankings of 36-58-26-63 in the past four years. Bear in mind each of the past three champions has ranked inside the top 10 in scrambling.
This is a significant metric this week. The past five champions ranked 21-6-1-2-7 in this category.
The 18th and 8th ranked as the hardest last year. If betting in-play, be aware the 1st and 2nd usually rank inside the top six hardest.
The four par 5s play as the easiest, with the short par 4 13th playing under par each year also.
The 16th plays as the easiest hole each year and is a definite birdie opportunity. The 17th and 18th are regularly ranking inside the five toughest holes.
Fast or Slow Start
Every leader in the past five years has been within the top 20 after round one. Only one player has won from outside the top 4 after 36 holes in the past five years. Similarly, only one player has gone on to win having started the final day lower than 3rd.
1pt Win Only Paul Casey 25/1 @ Bet365
It interests us that Paul passed up almost certain World Ranking points at last week's WGC event and has decided to tee it up here instead. He's desperate to make the Ryder Cup team this year and has started the season in sensational form, notching a win in Dubai and finishing no worse than 12th in his other three starts. He's not played here the past few years but a 9th place finish in 2016 shows us he can contend and we want him in the staking plan.
1pt Win Only Francesco Molinari 30/1 @ Betfair
Our preview indicates how important course form is here and there aren't many players in the field who have better results at Bay Hill than Francesco. He's yet to finish worse than 34th in seven appearances here and boasts a win and three other top 10s on his resume. He wasn't eligible for the WGC event last week but an 8th place finish at the Genesis Invitational sets him up nicely for this week's test. (Make sure you use the win only market on Betfair to get best price)
1pt Each Way Kevin Na 45/1 @ Boylesports (1/5 1-10)
Kevin finished 11th last week having started slowly in round one. He’s turned into a prolific winner in recent years and four wins in his last 60 starts means he is a player to be respected. He's motivated to win again as his goal this season is to make the Ryder Cup team. Even though his recent finishes at this event haven’t been eye catching, he has multiple top 6 finishes at Bay Hill. Boylesports are offering 10 places each way so we’ve chosen the bet there rather than the 50/1 generally available.
0.5pts Each Way Chris Kirk 110/1 @ Bet365 (1/5 1-8)
Chris has a great record at Bay Hill with four top 16 finishes in seven starts. What is notable with Chris's results here is the fact he's often turned up badly out of form. That isn't the case this year as he's very much a player in form. Three top 16 finishes from four starts this season are hugely encouraging and it's a surprise to see him priced up as highly this week. Chris was once ranked 19th in the world, a good result this week will see him climb back up the rankings.
0.5pts Each Way Sebastian Munoz 140/1 @ Bet365 (1/5 1-8)
Sebastian missed the cut here last year in his only appearance to date but that lack of course form has meant his price warrants some interest. He warmed up for this with a 22nd place finish last week at the WGC and what particularly caught our eye was his eye catching stats. He ranked 7th SG: Approach and 2nd Total Driving (combined Driving Accuracy and Driving Distance). His putting let him down last week but the week before at Genesis his putting was good. If he can find his putting stroke again (he's won on Bermuda greens before) then he's been underestimated.
0.5pts Each Way Danny Lee 300/1 @ Bet365 (1/5 1-8)
Danny finished 52nd in his last outing at the Genesis. That might not seem all that impressive but given he’s missed his last five cuts in that event it was a significant improvement. He was 16th SG: Off The Tee that week and 38th SG: Approach so his game is in decent shape. He was 5th here last year and has three top 20 finishes in his last six attempts here.
1pt Adam Long Top 20 Finish 13/2 @ Bet365
Adam has had a horrid start to the season, missing three of his first four cuts. However, he traditionally plays poorly in the majority of events on the West Coast and a return to his home state of Florida should see his game improve. He posted five top 20s from 26 starts last year and he's finished 24th and 10th in this event the past two years. There's every reason to think he can post another top 20 this week.
1pt Will Gordon Top 20 Finish 15/2 @ Betfair
Will caught our eye last week when playing in Puerto Rico. He ranked 9th for Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation, showing that he's swinging really nicely. Finishes of 27th and 21st in his last two starts are encouraging and even though he's teeing it up here for the first time, he's more than capable of a top 20. At odds of 15/2 we're happy to bet on this talented youngster taking to Bay Hill.
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7 March 2021, 12:10pm
The leaderboard has a very different look about it after one of the most entertain rounds of golf you will ever watch. It would be an injustice not to start with Jordan Spieth's antics as he started with a 19ft birdie putt on 1, a hole in one on 2, and 32ft par save on 3. He then made par saves of 7ft and 15ft on 5 and 6 before holing a bunker shot on 7 for birdie. A 36ft birdie putt followed on the 10th to conclude a truly remarkable run of golf.
Lee Westwood has pole vaultedinto lead by one shot after a sublime 65 which actually included two 3 putts believe it or not! Conners was the only player to retain a place in the top 5 from Friday and DeChambeau has made a nice move and is one back.
Bookmakers have him 9/4 favourite to close out from here but wayward drives on 12, 15 and 18 are enough to put us off at that price. The wind is forecast at 17mph all afternoon and it's very possible things could get messy for him tee to green. It has been evident all week that his iron shots are a much more relaxed tempo, so it will be interesting to see how cautious he plays it today.
Westwood is next in line at 5/1 and is now approaching the end of his career playing somewhat pressure free golf. Winning the Race to Dubai at the end of last year was an example of that and we wouldn't put anyone off taking the 5/1. Justin Ray tweeted that he is 11-for-22 converting 54 hole leads worldwide the last 15 years and 3-for-8 converting 1 shot leads.
Conners might enjoy starting this round chasing instead of leading but he is still too short for us at 6/1. Spieth has been dreadful on Sundays recently and you have to think he has used up all his luck for one week = but never say never with Jordan! Fleetwood has given himself a great chance to make a Sunday charge and shouldn't be too phased by the wind.
- 2pts Keegan Bradley WIN ONLY - 12/1 @ Bet365
Another Justin Ray stat pointed out that 25 of the last 26 winners at Bay Hill were inside the top 5 entering the final round so we should be concentrating on the leaders. Of the top 5, Bradley is a stand out price at 12/1. He is 2 shots and our player profile highlights this is exactly when he is most dangerous. All four of his victories have come from when he was 1-4 shots behind the leader after 54 holes. He usually saves his wins for big events and we also like the fact his family are with him this week and he considers that his good luck charm. His wife gave birth to their second son at the start of the year so the narrative is all set up for him to clinch his 5th title. Note enhanced odds of 15.5 are available on Betfair Exchange.
6 March 2021, 11:40am
Corey Conners has the halfway lead at Bay Hill after a morning 69, courtesy of an eagle at 16. Rory and Bryson were fancied to catch him but could only manage a pair of 71's and have some catching to do over the weekend. Viktor Hovland has successfully got himself into the mix with three birdies in his last four holes.
The round of the day was unexpected with Jazz Janewattonananond shooting 65 - the best score of the day by two shots. Hot on his heels were Martin Laird and Lanto Griffin who are now genuine contenders.
The chasing pack is full of danger and the likes of Spieth, Im, Rose, Casey and Fitzpatrick will all be hoping to position themsleves nicely from 4/5 back. History shows us that it is possible to come back as well - Matt Every came from 9 shots back at halfway in 2014, Rory was 6 shots back in 2018 and Molinari was 4 shots back in 2019. On the flip side, three winners in the last ten years led or co-led at halfway so we've seen all scenarios play out.
Jason Day won wire to wire in 2016 but that is the only occasion it has happened in 10 years so Corey will have his work cut out to finish the job from here. He has only hit 8 fairways each day which isn't sustainable around Bay Hill and in general his tee to green game regressed yesterday. He's our least fancied pick of the favourites at 13/2.
Rory is also not for us at 7/2. He leads the field for SG: Putting this week and his tee to green game looked ragged yesterday. In his favour is the rain due which should help him but he is short enough given yesterday's evidence. Hovland is preferred over Bryson at 9/2, it is impossible to ignore his form at the moment and his confidence is a danger. Given the leaderboard is packed with recent PGA Tour winners though, we can't pull the trigger at that price.
The rain is due to arrive around 10am local time according to the forecast and the wind is set to reach 13mph. How this will all play out is anyone's guess but lets just hope we don't have any weather delays as we look set for a fascinating moving day at Bay Hill.
- 1.5PTS Martin Laird 16/1 @ Sporting Index (Win Only)
- 1.5PTS Lanto Griffin 18/1 @ Boylesports (Win Only)
We mentioned that the leaderboard is full of recent winners and for that reason we shouldn't take these two lightly. Laird won as recent as the end of 2020 at Shriners and is a champion here at Bay Hill. He ranks 1st tee to green this week and appears in control of his game. Griffin won at the end of 2019 in Houston and has been in really consistent form of late with form figures of 22-26-7. He ranks 9th for tee to green and 9th for putting this week so all aspects of his game are in good shape. We don't think this pair will go away this weekend and bank on previous winning experiences to set them up nicely for the weekend.
5 March 2021, 12:10pm
Nothing much was happening with Rory McIlroy's round until his 11th hole (the 2nd) when he holed a 55ft putt which was going at least 10ft past. He then holed a 22ft putt on the next and three birdies to follow meant he was leading the morning wave at 6 under. Worryingly for the field, he is in the top 10 of every stat category apart from around the greens.
Close on his heels is Bryson DeChambeau, who appeared to have a much more sensible game plan yesterday, taking irons off the tee when necessary. He is one back and bookmakers rate him a 9/2 chance to topple Rory. Bryson actually performed better than Rory tee to green by 2 shots and if he continues this controlled strategy, he is a massive danger.
Corey Conners managed to join Rory and would have been leading had he not 3 putted his final hole. Corey was -6 through 7 holes and appeared to stall once he hit the front. 2/2 missed cuts here, combined with concerns over his short game, means he's not for us at 14/1.
Plenty of the market favourites are still within touching distance - Hovland, Im and Fitzpatrick lurk at 3 under par but look short enough considering Rory and Bryson lead. We're in decent shape with our pre-events as four of them are under par, led by Sebastian Munoz at 4 under.
The wind doesn't look to be much of a factor today although it increases slightly from 3mph to 7mph. There doesn't appear to be too much of a draw bias, so that's one less thing to worry about.
Last year, four of the top seven started with rounds in their 70's so although other winners in recent years have been up with the pace, it is possible to play catch up here for an each way pay-out. With Rory and Bryson dominating, this is the angle we will take today.
- 0.5pts Each Way Brendan Steele 250/1 @ Skybet (1/5 1-5)
Brendan is 5 behind the leaders following an opening 71. He bogeyed his first hole but there were no more after that. The stats show he was extremely solid tee to green, ranking 12th. Staying out of trouble will be the name of the game this week so if he can keep hitting fairways and greens he shouldn't be far off. He is playing very consistent golf with form figures of 43-34-30-21-4 . 4th in The Honda Classic in Florida last year and three top 50's in his last four starts here shows he is comfortable.
- 0.5pts Each Way Brendan Steele 250/1 @ Skybet (1/5 1-5)
Doug is also 5 shots back following a very boring round of 17 pars and 1 birdie. Boring is good around here and will more than likely keep you heading in the right direction. He hit 12/14 fairways and ranked 24th tee to green. The youngster is making his debut here so we can expect him to improve a little bit as the rounds go on. He missed the cut on his last start at Genesis but form before that was 21-37-5 so he is an improving player. Take a chance he can be the 'Sung Kang' of this year squeezing into the places.