Fantasy Golf Arnold Palmer’s Invitational Iced Tee
By James Dalthorp III
BEAST DOME NATION.
An homage to one of the greats this week with Arnie’s special event. We just never know what we’re going to see at this tournament. Quietly, this is one of Tiger’s great events and we’ll miss him (as we have most of this season) and wait for updates of better news on his health. I believe he’ll return.
In the meantime, we’ve got a lot of major champions in major form heading into this one. Keep in mind there are always some great sleepers that come alive here. With just five or so weeks before the Masters, we’ll get a good sense of where we stand. A lot of top players are peaking.
Another notable storyline: Jordan Spieth will be making his first ever start here, after not playing this event over the past decade. This course would not be considered a strong candidate for Spieth, but coming off 3 top 15 finishes where he was in the final grouping on Sunday twice, he might be a promising dark horse. Let’s look at the top picks. Since his success in Florida has been hit or miss, we’ll have to wait and see.
1. Viktor Hovland
This event has brought the best out of some of the game’s best ball strikers. Hovland had a character building week last week and I think it will serve him well here. Players will find themselves in some dicey situations and Viktor’s attitude has shown to handle the best. I expect him to carry the trophy come Sunday. And if not this year, I see this as a strong one for him long term as well.
2. Tyrell Hatton
A past champion here last year with plenty of strong talent, we will see Hatton contend here as it’s one of the strongest courses for his ability. He has found the magic here before and it seems like the right combination of his best assets. He moves the ball well here when it’s windy and he has had great success on these greens.
3. Talor Gooch
T13 in this event last year and coming off a top 15 of his own at the Genesis at Riviera. The two courses are similar in their complexity and Tabor’s been due for another high finish. I think his experience will serve him well enough to get in contention here. Surely a name to watch this season.
4. Henrik Stenson
This is an event Stenson has contended at and his track record in Florida is fantastic. I would also not take too much credit for a missed cut here last year, being that the winning score is usually close to Even par and the cut doesn’t fall too far outside that number. Plus, conditions will be much tougher on Sunday here. More so than other weeks – because of the pin positions on these odd shaped (sometimes boomerang) greens. At 44, I think his experience in this event will serve him well in a very young field. His ball striker always impresses under the gun at places like this.
5. Cameron Davis
Ball strikers come alive – and why not Cam? He’s one of those great strikers who can do well here. And although all the great strikers won’t automatically go ham out here, I see no reason why Cam won’t feel right at home in these conditions. He’s proven this season that his game is here to stay.