Arnold Palmer Invitational In-Tournament Picks: Look for Casey, Leishman to Make Runs

Arnold Palmer Invitational live betting picks and predictions. Andy gives us his in-tournament picks and analysis for the Honda Classic. Find out who presents the most value at the halfway point.
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Arnold Palmer Invitational In-Tournament Picks: Look for Casey, Leishman to Make Runs

  • Current Leader: Viktor Hovland (-9)
  • Round 3 Start Time: 8:30 am ET
  • Course: Bay Hill Club and Lodge
  • Purse: $12,000,000

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Arnold Palmer Invitational In-Tournament Picks

I opened last week's Honda Classic midway report with the word "carnage," and that theme continues once again at this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational. Round 1 at Bay Hill saw a scoring average of 72.29 (+0.29 over par) in benign conditions.

Yet when the wind picked up on Friday afternoon, the course played a whopping +3.28 strokes over par. For context, that's only 0.28 strokes easier than last year's U.S. Open! I would expect this trend to continue over the weekend, as Windermere projects to see consistent gusts of over 17 mph from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Not to mention the fact that the greens will keep firming up, and the broadcasters also mentioned that there was no plan to mow down any of the gnarly four-inch rough either.

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Amidst all the chaos, Viktor Hovland got out early on Friday morning and posted six-under par 66 for a two-day total of nine-under par. He sits two shots ahead of Rory McIlroy, Talor Gooch, and Tyrell Hatton. He is also three clear of Billy Horschel at six-under par. After that, there is a large group of players at three under par. Hovland definitely received the benefit of posting a score early and watching the rest of the field crumble around him in the afternoon.

The morning wave played a full two strokes easier than the afternoon. I do not expect Hovland to be so lucky tomorrow. While gusts are relatively consistent throughout the day, we saw what happens to these greens in the afternoon after hours of foot traffic and dry conditions. I do believe those who tee off last tomorrow will experience everything Bay Hill has to offer.

With that being said, the five players that sit above six under par have combined for 56 world-wide wins. I don't expect any of them to roll over. Hovland can be found as high as +175 on UniBet via the OddsChecker golf grid, with McIlroy (+400), Hatton (+700), Gooch (+850), and Horschel (10/1) not far behind. Of that group, I really believe that Horschel presents the most value. I bet him pre-tournament at 55/1 and I remain steadfast that he possesses an excellent chance to don the red cardigan on Sunday afternoon. With that being said, readers know the point of this article is to identify the best value, and I'm not sure anyone came here today wanting to bet Billy Horschel at 10/1.

Instead, I will turn my attention to a similarly frustrating player who I also bet pre-tournament, Paul Casey. The Englishman sits in a tie for sixth at three-under par after steady rounds of 70 and 71. To elaborate on the frustration, just in his Friday round, Casey missed two five footers for birdie and a whopping four birdie putts inside eight feet. Through two rounds, the 18-time worldwide winner leads the field in approach by a whopping 0.5 strokes, yet sits 51st in strokes gained putting. I understand that Casey's inability to make clutch putts is baked into his number, but as the greens continue to firm up over the weekend, his advantage grows even more.

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I was high on Casey entering the week because he is one of the best long iron players in the world, and with 30% of Bay Hill's approaches coming from over 200 yards, there may not be a course on Tour that better accentuates this elite skill-set. Casey gets a wrap as a player who cannot close, but he has 18 wins world-wide in the last two decades.

He's still searching for the first elusive major, but 12 major top-10s dictate a player who thrives in difficult scoring conditions. Also, Casey could be found at 35/1 or 40/1 pre-tournament, and I would absolutely argue that he is in a more advantageous position on Friday night than he was on Thursday morning. At the end of the day, it's a pure number play. FanDuel's 46/1 is off market by at least 6 points, and he is priced as low as 35/1 at some books as well. On a course with this much variance, where the later tee times will once again be disadvantaged, I'll gladly take my chances farther down the board.

Speaking of farther down the board, Marc Leishman sits at one-under par after rounds of 70 and 73. The Australian can be found as high as 160/1 on FanDuel Sportsbook via the OddsChecker golf grid. Before scoffing at a player who is eight strokes back, let's consider both the number and context. First of all, Leishman is 160/1 on FanDuel and 100/1 everywhere else. That's the beauty of the OddsChecker golf grid: it allows to us identify outlier numbers, and FanDuel's number on Leishman is an outlier number.

Second of all, Sepp Straka came from seven back after 54 holes just last week. If we've learned anything from these Florida golf courses with firm greens, high wind gusts, and water everywhere, it's that no lead is safe. Let's also consider who we are buying in Marc Leishman. The six-time PGA Tour winner has been percolating with six top-25s, including two top-fives in his last eight starts. Leishman has been playing excellent golf for months now, and that trend has continued at Bay Hill.

He ranks inside the top-30 in strokes gained off the tee, strokes gained approach, and strokes gained putting. He is doing everything well right now, we are really just waiting for the putter to really pop. Leishman is no stranger to this position either. He came from six strokes back after 54 holes to win the Travelers. He made the cut on the number at the 2015 Open Championship, and after weekend rounds of 64 and 66, he jumped 60 spots on the leaderboard and found himself in a playoff. He shot a final round 65 to come from behind and win the 2017 CIMB classic, and a final round 65 to win to come from behind and win the 2020 Farmer's Insurance Open. Starting to understand what I'm getting at here? 160/1 is a ridiculous number on a former Bay Hill winner who thrives in difficult scoring conditions, and has a well-documented history of catching fire over the weekend and stealing tournaments. Run, not walk, to bet that number.

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Arnold Palmer Predictions

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Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from Manhattan, New York. Andy came to OddsChecker in January 2022 after previously writing for Golf Digest, GolfWRX, Rotoballer, and the Score. Andy is also the host of a golf betting and daily fantasy podcast, Inside Golf Podcast, as well as "The Scramble” with Rick Gehman, and a recurring guest on the Pat Mayo Experience. In his free time, Andy is still grinding away at his lifelong dream of qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, and if not writing, can likely be found somewhere on a golf course.

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