Arnold Palmer Invitational experts' picks

March, 19, 2013
03/19/13
11:40
AM ET

Each week of the season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week's tournament: The Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Fla.

Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Ian Poulter

I will say this would be his first year considered as a horse because, before 2011, his record had been a disaster, to be kind (four MCs and a T-48). But Poulter now has a good balance of his schedule and hasn't put extra pressure on himself to win a home game just because he sleeps in his own bed this week.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Tiger Woods

The 14-time major champion has seven wins at Bay Hill. Arnie should put Tiger's name on the deed.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Tiger Woods

Hard to pick against the year's only two-time winner here. He has won seven times at Bay Hill, although he seems to either have it or not. He also has been outside the top 20 on six occasions.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Jim Furyk

He has never won at Bay Hill, but Furyk has gone T-11, T-9, T-11 the past three years in Orlando. Plus, he's coming off a season-best finish last week at the Tampa Bay Championship.


Birdie Buster

Michael Collins: Graeme McDowell

It's feast or famine for McDowell at this track. In five starts, he has two runner-ups, two MCs and a 40th. Last year at this event, he turned a corner with his game, and he hasn't looked back since. This year, after missing the first cut of his season, he has had three top-10s in a row, which doesn't hurt.

Farrell Evans: Boo Weekley

One of the tour's best known country boys, Weekley shot a 63 in the final round at Tampa to finish second, his best showing in a tour event since he won the 2008 Verizon Heritage. Tampa marked his second consecutive top-10: He had a T-8 in Puerto Rico.

Bob Harig: Boo Weekley

He's coming off a strong performance at Innisbrook, where he was all over the flag Sunday, shooting a tournament-best 8-under-par 63 that looked for a long time as if it would hold up to win before he finished second.

Kevin Maguire: Tiger Woods

Sure, he has won Arnold Palmer's event seven times in his career, but he also has finished outside the top 20 five times. Don't let anyone fool you to think he's a shoo-in this week, but I wouldn't bet against him.


Super Sleeper

Michael Collins: Jason Day

A rededication to the game this year has paid off. He's 6-for-6 in cuts made with three top-10 finishes. With his having not played the event since 2010 (a T-25), I expect him to be hungry to "show off" a bit for Mr. Palmer.

Farrell Evans: Greg Chalmers

The 39-year-old Australian hasn't won on the PGA Tour, but he has four victories in his homeland. Last week at Tampa, he had a tie for fourth on a tough Copperhead course.

Bob Harig: Brandt Snedeker

As great as he's been this year -- a win and two runner-up finishes -- it is hard to envision him contending after a five-week break since his win at Pebble Beach. He took time off to rest a rib injury.

Kevin Maguire: Erik Compton

He has played Bay Hill the past four years, but, in 2013, Compton is a different golfer. The two-time heart transplant recipient is 51st on the money list, including a T-4 at the Honda Classic, and he's more than halfway to keeping his card for next year.


Winner

Michael Collins: Tiger Woods

Do I really need to explain to you why Tiger is going to win this week? If you truly need to know why, check out where he has won so far this year. It's almost as easy as the game Connect Four.

Farrell Evans: Phil Mickelson

With the Masters on the horizon, Lefty is in his favorite time of the year. He hasn't won at Bay Hill since 1997. Look for him to steal some of the spotlight from Tiger this week.

Bob Harig: Charles Howell III

He's 57th in the world and needs to move into the top 50 by March 31 to qualify for the Masters. But a victory takes care of it all, and Howell has lots of experience at Bay Hill, where he is making his 13th straight appearance.

Kevin Maguire: Graeme McDowell

He missed the cut in his first start of the season but hasn't finished outside the top 10 since. McDowell got to watch Tiger's victory in the final group last year. This year, he turns the tables and takes home the title.

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