Three times this year, Rory McIlroy has been the favorite going into a tournament, and come up short. It might make some skittish on betting on the world’s No. 1 ranked golfer. Not me, however. I have a feeling the Arnold Palmer Invitational is where the Irishman gets his first PGA Tour victory of the year. That’s why with this week’s One Bet, $100, I’m taking McIlroy at 5/1 to win at Bay Hill.

Rory McIlroy favorite
Rory McIlroy is the favorite at this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. (Image: Getty)

Much like McIlroy, I feel like I’m due for a winner. My losing streak reached three when I took Dustin Johnson to be the top American at the WGC-Mexico Championship. Johnson tied for 48th out of 72 golfers, and had no chance of being the best American.

One Bet, $100

This Week’s Pick                         Last Result                    Season Total

Rory McIlroy                              Lost Dustin Johnson        0-1, -$300

With McIlroy, I feel like backing the favorite is the right play at Bay Hill. McIlroy took over as the No. 1 ranked golfer the week of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am even though he didn’t play there. He’s kept the top ranking ever since, including after finishing tied for fifth at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in LA. That finish was his worst in five events.

He told reporters before that event he isn’t satisfied with just getting back to No. 1.

“Everyone keeps saying congratulations,” McIlroy said. “I said the work’s only started, staying there is the hard part.”

Playing Well is not Good Enough for McIlroy

Though McIlroy hasn’t finished worse than a tie for fifth in five events, he’s looking for more — and for his first victory of the season. The 30-year-old won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2018, and bookended that victory with a tie for fourth in 2017, and a tie for sixth last year.

This year, McIlroy has been scarily consistent. Of his 20 rounds in 2020, he has only three scores in the 70s. The other 17 have all been below par. His scoring average of 68.2 is the best on tour. He’s also in the top 10 in driving distance (third), eagles (second), and birdie average (sixth).

Still, McIlroy believes he has more to accomplish.

“I rarely set myself goals of I want to win this and I want to win that because all of those goals are just a by-product of doing the little things right, and I’m a big believer in that,” McIlroy said. “If you get the little things right day after day after day, and you practice good habits and those habits become completely ingrained in what you do, the rest will follow.”

Why McIlroy will Win

Even though McIlroy has come up short after being the favorite in three other events this season, this should be the week he captures his first PGA victory of the season. Oddsmakers have him at 5/1, while Tommy Fleetwood is the second pick at 14/1. In golf odds, that makes him an overwhelming choice.

McIlroy has had success at Bay Hill and hasn’t finished lower than a tie for sixth in his three appearances. He doesn’t have a finish outside the top-5 this year and, if he plays his game, he should have no problem picking up his 19th career victory.

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