The Arnold Palmer Invitational is a tournament on the PGA Tour which is normally held in March at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando Florida.
The event was first held as the Florida Citrus Open Invitational in 1966 when the tournament was played at the Rio Pinar Country Club in eastern Orlando. It remained there until 1979 when the switch was made 15 miles west across Orlando to the Bay Hill Club & Lodge.
The Bay Hill course was owned by 7-time Major winner Arnold Palmer between 1974 and his passing in 2016, and is now owned by his daughter Amy Saunders and son-in-law Ron Saunders. The tournament has had many names over the years but has been the Arnold Palmer Invitational since 2007.
By far the most successful player here is Tiger Woods who has eight wins, his first coming in 2000 and his last in 2013. Arnold Palmer himself was victorious in 1971. Palmer picked up $30,000 dollars for his efforts, the winner now takes home over $1.6 million.
|Bay Hill Club and Lodge||Bay Hill, Florida||7,454 Yards||$9,300,000|
Arnold Palmer Invitational Recent Winners
|2021||Bryson DeChambeau||-11||1 Stroke||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2020||Tyrrell Hatton||-4||1 Stroke||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2019||Francesco Molinari||-12||2 Strokes||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2018||Rory McIlroy||-18||3 Strokes||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2017||Marc Leishman||-11||1 Stroke||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2016||Jason Day||-17||1 Stroke||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2015||Matt Every||-19||1 Stroke||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2014||Matt Every||-13||1 Stroke||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2013||Tiger Woods||-13||2 Strokes||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2012||Tiger Woods||-13||5 Strokes||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2011||Martin Laird||-8||1 Stroke||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2010||Ernie Els||-11||2 Strokes||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2009||Tiger Woods||-5||1 Stroke||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2008||Tiger Woods||-10||1 Stroke||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2007||Vijay Singh||-8||2 Strokes||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2006||Rod Pampling||-14||1 Stroke||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2005||Kenny Perry||-12||2 Strokes||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2004||Chad Campbell||-18||6 Strokes||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2003||Tiger Woods||-19||11 Strokes||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2002||Tiger Woods||-18||4 Strokes||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
|2001||Tiger Woods||-15||1 Stroke||Bay Hill Club and Lodge|
Bay Hill Club and Lodge
Arnold Palmer is arguably golf’s most endearing and enduring character. Among the massive legacy that he left golf both on and off the course is his Bay Hill Club and Lodge. Palmer bought Bay Hill in 1974 and had a reputation over the years that passed of near constant tinkering with the par 72 championship course, so that it could stand up to the challenge of the world’s best golfers.
The quality and variety of players on the list of winners at Bay Hill tells you a great deal about how well rounded the challenge of the par 7,454 yard layout is. None of the last five winners - who include Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Francesco Molinari - are American, while home winners include players as varied as Tiger Woods, Matt Every and Fred Couples.
Bay Hill is a tough enough course even for its members who play it every week with shorter holes and easier rough but things get turned up a notch or two for the visit of the PGA Tour. The rough is grown enough to make it genuinely penal, the greens are fast and the swirling wind makes club selection very difficult.
English star Tyrell Hatton had to show a combination of technical proficiency and mental fortitude to cling on for his maiden PGA Tour title last year. Bay Hill was as tough as ever as he won despite a final round score of +4 and fittingly, the wind is forecast to be at its strongest on Sunday. We could see some high scores again in the final round and some major swings so it should be a thrilling, though testing, finale.
About the Arnold Palmer Invitational
The PGA Tour is one of the most successful organisations in all of sport. The best golfers in the world are genuine superstars and earn millions of dollars every year. It is a million miles away from the tour that Arnold Palmer joined in 1954 but he is the man who many credit as being the spark for the modern game.
Palmer was one of the most widely respected and adored golfers of all time. It was his victories in 62 PGA Tour events and seven major championships that earned him that respect but it was the force of his personality and his character that earned him the adulation.
Without Palmer’s swashbuckling style that entertained millions and saw the formation of his loyal band of followers known as Arnie’s Army, the PGA Tour would not exist in its current format. He paved the way for future stars such as Tiger Woods and his legacy very much lives on, including with the tournament that bears his name, the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
A Top Class Tournament at Arnie’s Place
The Arnold Palmer Invitational is one of just five invitation-only events on the PGA Tour, with others including the RBC Heritage and the Memorial Tournament. The criteria for getting a place in the Arnold Palmer Invitational ensures a high class field. It starts with the previous 20 winners of the tournament, includes the last five years’ worth of major champions and Players Championship winners, PGA Tour winners in the last year and the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
The high tariff of entry only works because this is such a well-regarded event. The draw of playing in Arnold Palmer’s event and the prize fund which reached $9.3 million in 2020 are both important factors, but arguably the biggest draw of all is the chance to play at Bay Hill Club and Lodge.
Bay Hill is among the most popular courses used by the PGA Tour, largely because it is such a fair, all round test of golf. Unlike some courses which reward power or putting above all other elements of the game, Bay Hill tests every facet of a golfer’s game during a round. That much was ensured by Palmer who bought the Florida club in 1974 and was famed for making constant changes to the layout to ensure it was up to the rigours of hosting top level golf tournaments.
Although Palmer sadly died in 2016, Bay Hill remains in his family and there are memories of the great man all around the course. From his golf bag including his clubs and featuring his trademark umbrella logo on the corner of the driving range to pictures and memorabilia of his career, you can’t miss the fact that this is Arnie’s event at Arnie’s place.
Every’s 19,800/1 Double
Arnold Palmer used to ensure that he was always in town to host his tournament. That led to the much loved tradition of the host shaking hands with the winner as they walked off the 18th green. Matt Every was one of the lucky few to get to take part in that tradition, in fact he managed to do it twice in two years.
It’s fair to say that Every was not everybody’s idea of a likely winner before his first win in 2014. He was yet to win on the PGA Tour and was best known for being arrested for marijuana possession. He wasn’t even fancied by the bookies at the start of the weekend but made the most of some good luck on his part and horrible luck on the part of Adam Scott to claim his maiden PGA Tour win and get that much coveted handshake.
Every’s form pretty much fell off a cliff after his 300/1 win in the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational so when he returned to Bay Hill he was priced at 66/1 with the bookies to win again. However, he played even better than in 2014, finishing with a score of -19 which was enough to defend his title and complete a double that would have been worth almost 20,000/1!
The Arnold Palmer Invitational will always be a special tournament for Every but it hasn’t always been kind to him. In 2020, it looked as though history was about to repeat itself as a bang out of form Every led the way after the first day’s play. His joy was short lived though as he went from hero to zero by following up his first round of 65 with an 83 on Friday that saw him miss the cut.
United States Dominates… Until Recently
Of the 55 renewals of the tournament up to an including the 2020 tournament, only 10 have been own by non-US players. The home advantage could be turning though: the five tournaments from 2016 to 2020 were all won by non-US players.