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Arnold Palmer Invitational Preview: Rose is About Bloom

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Horses for courses. We hear it all the time in golf, and although it's just a clich, perhaps there's more to it than that. Horses and golfers don't appear to have much in common, but after witnessing the final round of the Valspar Championship last Sunday, it got me thinking -- maybe golfers are like horses, some are bred to perform well when in the lead and others are at their best when stalking.

Nearly every week on the PGA Tour, the leader hits a rough patch and either recovers or doesn't. It happened to John Senden on Sunday, but only after he fell out of the lead and into a stalking position did he recover. Would Senden have won Sunday had he not surrendered the lead at some point? We'll never know, but it certainly felt like Senden was only able to play better once the pressure of the lead was off his shoulders. So what of his final-hole par? Well, it's one thing to protect a lead for one hole; it's another thing to protect a lead for an entire round.

If Senden is a stalker, then he's not alone, in fact, most players on the PGA Tour appear to be stalkers as there seems to be a collective allergic reaction to a Sunday lead on the PGA Tour these days. But some are better in the lead - well at least one anyway, but that guy hasn't held the lead for quite a while. A month from now, that particular horse gets to run on his favorite track, though, and we'll see if he's the one to break this Sunday trend.

This week:
Arnold Palmer Invitational - Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Orlando, FLa.

Last Year:
Tiger Woods shot a final-round 70 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Justin Rose.

Players to Consider:

Justin Rose

Rose is not at the top of his game, but he's getting close as evidence by a top-10 last week. Rose finished runner-up to Woods last year at this event, and that was no fluke as he's finished in the top-15 here three years running.

Kevin Na

Na has traditionally played his best golf early in the year, and that was the case last week as he nearly pulled out a victory at the Valspar Championship. Na's track record at this event is extremely strong and combined with his form, he's one of the best plays this week.

Bubba Watson

Watson is on quite a roll, and with his track record at Bay Hill, it doesn't appear that he'll lose his magic this week. Watson has finished in the top-25 here in three consecutive starts entering this year's Palmer.

John Senden

I'm generally not a fan of taking golfers off a huge win, but Senden is obviously playing well and has got a solid track record here. Senden earned a T4 here in 2009 and has finished no worse than T27 since then.

Patrick Reed

The spotlight will be on Reed this week as this will be his first appearance since his infamous comments following his victory at the WGC Cadillac Championship. Reed has only played Bay Hill once with no success, but if he plays anything like he has during the first couple months this year, he'll be fine.

Players to Avoid:

Lee Westwood

Westwood is not off to a great start this season, and if his track record at Bay Hill is any indication, his struggles are likely to continue this week. Westwood has played here 11 times and scored only one top-10.

Brandt Snedeker

Snedeker has really struggled out of the gate this season, and it doesn't look like he'll turn it around this week. Snedeker has played well here in spots, but he's struggled the past three years at this event with two MCs and a T63.

Vijay Singh

Singh was a force at this event once upon a time, but that was a long time ago and he really hasn't played that well here the last five years. Besides his recent history here, Singh has really struggled this season with his best finish a T45 at the NTO a few weeks back.

Lucas Glover

Glover has two top-20s in four starts here, but he's in the midst of a horrible stretch. Glover hasn't made a cut since last November and is riding a streak of seven MCs entering this week.

Tiger Woods

Woods' track record at Bay Hill is incredible, but back injuries come and go with little notice, so while he might play well for most of the week, one bad move could spell the end of his week Tiger is too valuable to risk using in a one-and-done format.


Last week:
Jim Furyk (T20) - $64,068; Season - $1,837,828

This week:
Bubba Watson - Watson is on a roll, and that combined with his track record at Bay Hill make it the perfect time to use him.


Rank: 11,302

This Week:

Group A:
Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed

Group B:
Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan

Group C:
Kevin Na, John Senden


Last week:
N/A, N/A; Streak - 2

This week:
Kevin Na - Whereas I might find a place to use Watson later in the year, I'm not sure there will be a better place to use Na, so he gets the call in the survivor format.