Staying in the Sunshine State, the PGA Tour heads slightly north from Bradenton to Orlando for the 56th edition of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, the second stop on its four-stop Florida Swing.
As the final tuneup before next week’s PLAYERS Championship, the Arnold Palmer will feature a stout field, featuring a slew of marquee players, headlined by former API winner Rory McIlroy, reigning U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, and a resurgent Jordan Spieth, who’s making his Bay Hill debut.
As we do each week, let’s take a look at the history, field, stats and other factoids as we prepare for what should be another exciting week of PGA Tour golf.
Tournament: Arnold Palmer Invitational
Dates: Mar. 4-7, 2021
Where: Orlando, Florida
Course: Bay Hill Club & Lodge
Distance: Par 72/7419 yards
Architect: Dick Wilson, Joe Lee (1961)
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $1,674,000
Points: 550 (FedExCup), 58 (OWGR)
Defending: Tyrrell Hatton
Other Marquee Names: Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau, Tommy Fleetwood, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Viktor Hovland, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama
TV & Streaming
Rd 1: Th 2-6:00 pm (GOLF)
Rd 2: Fr 2-6:00 pm (GOLF)
Rd 3: Sa 12:30-2:30 pm (GOLF)
Rd 3: Sa 2:30-6 pm (NBC)
Rd 4: Su 12:30-2:30 pm (GOLF)
Rd 4: Su 2:30-6 pm (NBC)
PGA TOUR LIVE
Rd 1: Th 6:45 am-6 pm (Featured Groups)
Rd 2: Fr 6:45 am-6 pm (Featured Groups)
Rd 3: Sa 8 am-2:30 pm (Featured Groups)
Rd 3: Sa 2:30 pm-6 pm (Featured Holes)
Rd 4: Su 8 am-2:30 pm (Featured Groups)
Rd 4: Su 2:30 pm-6 pm (Featured Holes)
Available via app – OTT and Mobile
PGA TOUR RADIO
Rd 1: Th 12-6 pm
Rd 2: Fr 12-6 pm
Rd 3: Sa 1-6 pm
Rd 4: Su 1-6 pm
Listen on SiriusXM or PGATOUR.com/liveaudio
The tournament that is now the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard started in 1966 as the Florida Citrus Open Invitational. The inaugural event was won by Lionel Hebert, who posted a 5-under par 279 and edged Charles Coody, Dick Lytle and a 26-year old Jack Nicklaus by two strokes.
Hebert took home a check for $21,000, exactly $965 less than what five players who tied for 49th pocketed at last year’s Arnold Palmer.
While the Arnold Palmer name has only titled the tournament since 2007, the event has been held at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, also known as “Arnie’s Place,” since 1979.
Since that time (1979), the tournament has had a number of different title sponsors and names, most of them including “Bay Hill.” The longest of those sponsors has been Mastercard, which has held the presenting slot since 2004, first as the Bay Hill Invitational Invitational (2004-2006), and then as the Arnold Palmer Invitational (2007-present).
Early tournament winners, alongside Hebert, included legends such as Julius Boros (1967), Palmer himself (1971), Lee Trevino (1975), Hale Irwin (1976), and Tom Kite (1982).
Modern day winners have included Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, and eight-time champ Tiger Woods.
As an “invitational,” the Arnold Palmer has a smaller, more exclusive field (120 players), and offers a 3-year Tour exemption to the winner (as opposed to the standard two), along with 550 FedExCup points (instead of 500). Invitationals also award the largest purses ($9.3M) on Tour, excluding majors and WGCs.
HISTORY: Tournament Names
2007-19: Arnold Palmer Invitational
1996-06: Bay Hill Invitational
1989-95: Nestle Invitational
1985-88: Hertz Bay Hill Classic
1980-84: Bay Hill Classic
1979-79: Bay Hill Citrus Classic
1972-78: Florida Citrus Open
1970-71: Florida Citrus Invitational
1966-69: Florida Citrus Open Invitational
HISTORY: Recent Winner
2020: Tyrrell Hatton (-4)
2019: Francesco Molinari (-12)
2018: Rory McIlroy (-18)
2017: Marc Leishman (-11)
2016: Jason Day (-17)
2015: Matt Every (-19)
2014: Matt Every (-13)
2013: Tiger Woods (-13)
2012: Tiger Woods (-13)
264 (-20) Payne Stewart, 1987
-23 (265) Buddy Allin, 1973
8 – Tiger Woods (2000-03, 2008-09, 2012-13)
It was blustery and it was brutal, but in the end it was Tyrrell Hatton who emerged on top. Bay Hill was a demanding test in 2020 (Matt Fitzpatrick’s Sunday 69 was the only round below 70 on the weekend) but Hatton, despite a double bogey on the par-4 11th Sunday, managed to right the ship with seven straight pars to close out his first PGA Tour victory (and fifth worldwide).
Hatton’s 4-under score over the 72 holes was one of just four sub-par totals for the week – the fewest at Bay Hill since 1980. Past Bay Hill winner Marc Leishman finished runner-up at 3-under while Sungjae Im (3rd/-2) and Bryson DeChambeau (4th/-1) were the only other golfers in red figures for the week.
Keith Mitchell, Danny Lee, Rory McIlroy, and Joel Dahmen finished T5 at even par.
– PGATOUR.com’s First Look
“Really tough day, obviously didn’t get off to the best of starts, kind of struggled a little bit with pace on the greens,” said Hatton. “I just felt like they were a hair slower than the putting green. I was putting quite nice on there, felt like I had the pace and I just didn’t have it out on the course. So, yeah, very tough.
“And I actually thought after the double at 11 that I was now behind and I didn’t know what the kind of situation was until I got on to 14 green and saw that I actually had a two-shot lead. So just so happy to hang on and get the win.”
Final Top 5
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1 Tyrrell Hatton -4 (+2)
2 Marc Leishman -3 (+2)
3 Sungjae Im -2 (+2)
4 Bryson DeChambeau -1 (-1)
5 Joel Dahmen E (-1)
5 Keith Mitchell E (-1)
5 Danny Lee E (+3)
5 Rory McIlroy E (+4)
The Arnold Palmer Invitational features a solidly representative field of the world’s best players, with nine of the Official World Golf Ranking’s current top 20 teeing it up, including defending champ Tyrrell Hatton at No. 5 – the field’s top-ranked player.
Rory McIlroy (No. 8), Patrick Reed (9), Bryson DeChambeau (11), and Viktor Hovland (13) are some of the other marquee draws.
Additional top-20 ranked players include Matthew Fitzpatrick (No. 16), Sungjae Im (17), Paul Casey (18), and Harris English (19).
Veteran major champions Zach Johnson, Henrik Stenson, Jason Dufner, and Keegan Bradley are some of the other familiar names.
2021 Ryder Cup captains, Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington, will also tee it up, keeping an eye on those players on the bubble.
International golfers have won the last five editions, and this year will draw another strong international contingent. Along with the aforementioned McIlroy (Northern Ireland), Stenson (Sweden), Im (Korea), Hovland (Norway), Hatton, Fitzpatrick, Casey, and Fleetwood (England), here are some other serious global contenders: Marc Leishman and Jason Day of Australia; Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa; Englishmen Justin Rose, and Matt Wallace; Swede Alex Noren; Irishman Shane Lowry; Koreans Si Woo Kim, Byeong Hun An, and Sung Kang; and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, among others.
The Field: Odds To Win
Bay Hill Club & Lodge | Orlando, FL | Mar 4-7, 2021
Credits: PGA Tour Media, Getty Images
Joel Cook contributed to this preview.