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Golf Betting: It's time for Justin Rose to finally stop being the bridesmaid at the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Golf Betting: It's time for Justin Rose to finally stop being the bridesmaid at the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Tiger Woods' revival will be the talk of Bay Hill but the Englishman loves it at the Florida course.

OH yes, he's back.

When Tiger Woods (7.00) drained that 44-foot birdie putt on the 71st hole last week, it was a reminder of the incredible electricity he brings to the sport and yet what happened next was arguably even more fun.

Woods bit his bottom lip, trying to prevent a joyous smile spreading across his face, but it didn't work. His ability to conjure golfing magic had been confirmed and he was every bit as thrilled as the millions watching.

This week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, hosted by the Bay Hill Club, is one of Woods' favourites and therefore no place for the revival hype to experience any sort of respite. Perhaps the biggest obstacle in the path of his growing momentum is the fever which is bound to grow ahead of his Thursday tee time.

The big question for punters is what price represents value? Do you judge Woods by his inability to win since August 2013, by his promising golf this year, or as a course specialist who won four times in a row between 2000 and 2003, then back-to-back in 2008-9 and 2012-13?

Are you the fan who backs the man you hope will win? Or the disciplined observer who draws a line below which you won't back him?

What we know for certain is that Woods is in an upbeat frame of mind, gaining confidence from the realisation that his body is strong.

"I was close," he said after last week's final round. "I had a chance and my game is progressing.

"You know the thing that I was the most happy about this week is when I did miss, I missed on the correct side and that's what we have to do out here.

"If I missed the fairway it was on the correct side. If I missed the green it was on the correct side. That adds up over the course of a week."

"I'm very excited. Bay Hill is a course I like. Unfortunately, I didn't play before Arnold's passing. It's going to be good for me to get back. I've got some great memories. I've won a few times, I used to live there, my kids were born there. Great town and great atmosphere."

Atmosphere is something Orlando will have plenty of this week. Can Woods add a little more magic? My heart hopes so, my head says the price is too tight.


Air Miles: Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (51.00) has twice finished T6th in this event. He's also a recent winner on the European Tour and was T5th in the Mexico Championship. A contender this week? Quite possibly but bear in mind that in the last month he has flown from Perth to Florida to Mexico to Brunei and then back to Florida. That's 34,000 miles in total, the equivalent of more than three flights from London to Auckland.

Conundrum: Rickie Fowler (21.00) was particularly close to Arnold Palmer and loves this venue. "I've been in contention," he said last year. "I've even won a junior tournament here. I've had plenty of good rounds, I just need to piece together four of them."

Home Game: Graeme McDowell (176.0) has twice finished runner-up at Bay Hill (2005 and 2012). "It's a special tournament for me," says the man who lives and owns a gastro pub in Orlando. "The Irish Open used to be my home event, but this is home now."


With the exception of 2014, when he missed the cut, Justin Rose (13.00) has been banging on the door at this event in recent years.

He was third in 2011, second in 2013, bang in contention after 36 holes in 2012 and fifth at 54 holes in 2016. Last year a round in the 60s eluded him and yet he still finished T13th.

He was also very close to the win last week (T5th) and seeing fellow Englishman Paul Casey claim the honours might provide incentive to finally smash that Bay Hill door down.

Twelve months ago Kevin Kisner (67.00) was tied for the lead through 54 holes only to shoot a final round 73. "Not happy," he said straight afterwards. "I had it right in the palm of my hand and I didn't get it done."

He's another who may be fuelled by memories of "what if" and he'll also be happy with a return to these putting surfaces. "I love Bermuda grass," he said last year. "It's what I grew up on, I read these greens very well and I use it to my advantage."

He's not had the best start to 2018 but a third round 66 in the Mexico Championship was a good sign and he's a nice price this week.

Prior to last year's missed cut Henrik Stenson (31.00) had made the top ten four years on the trot, every time ranking top three for Total Accuracy (which combines Fairways Found and Greens in Regulation).

A missed cut last week and T60th in Malaysia have pushed his price out, but it's not so long ago that he ticked off a pair of top tens in the Middle East. This might be a good week to take advantage of an inflated price.





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Matt Cooper
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