The PGA Tour returns to Bay Hill this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. This week’s Tour event in Orlando, Fla., will be played concurrently with the NCAA Tournament, so I decided to put a little basketball spin on the rankings this week.
Players are still ranked in order, but are grouped by seeds. I also added four “Cinderellas,” or players who might be getting overlooked this week.
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NO. 1 SEEDS
Henrik Stenson: Couldn’t build off opening 64 at Valspar, but did tie for seventh. He loves Bay Hill, too – he tied for third last year after finishes of T-15, T-8, T-5 and second the previous four trips to API. Never missed a cut in eight Bay Hill starts.
Rory McIlroy: In first two API starts, the last two years, he was T-27 and T-11. Showed little rust in return from rib injury, tying for seventh in Mexico.
Hideki Matsuyama: T-6 and T-21 in two career API starts. T-25 last time out, in Mexico, after MC at Riviera.
Jason Day: Defending champ but in five Bay Hill starts prior, Day’s best finish was T-17. Needs something to kickstart his season.
NO. 2 SEEDS
Justin Rose: T-9 last year was his fourth top 10 in 12 API starts. T-38 in Mexico but had top 4s in three of previous four worldwide starts before that.
Tyrrell Hatton: Has finished inside the top 25 in 10 straight worldwide starts now. He seven top 10s, including a win, during that span. Ride him until he disappoints.
Rickie Fowler: Four of five cuts made here, including T-3 in 2013. T-16, first and T-4 in last three Tour starts.
Zach Johnson: Just one top 10 in six Tour starts this season but Bay Hill has been great to him. He was fifth last year, his sixth top-11 finish in 13 API starts.
NO. 3 SEEDS
Brandt Snedeker: Strong T-7 showing in Mexico and has a decent API record. Has made eight of 10 cuts at Bay Hill, including T-36 last year, but has just one top 10 (T-8, 2014).
Francesco Molinari: T-9, T-17, T-5 in last three API starts. Also has top 20s in eight of last nine worldwide starts.
Paul Casey: T-9 last year at Bay Hill and enters this year playing some of his best golf of the season – T-16, T-11 in last two Tour starts.
Martin Kaymer: Hasn’t played here since MC in 2008 but is in great form – five tops 25s in last six worldwide starts, including two T-4 finishes.
NO. 4 SEEDS
Charles Howell III: Bay Hill resident has made eight straight API cuts. He has made 10 straight Tour cuts entering this week, too.
Matthew Fitzpatrick: Missed cut as amateur here in 2014 but returned last year to tied for 27th. T-16 in Mexico.
Thomas Pieters: 76th in API debut, but he was T-5 two weeks ago in Mexico. Should be able to overpower Bay Hill.
Tommy Fleetwood: Making his API debut but there’s no denying the form – second, T-12 in last two worldwide starts.
NO. 5 SEEDS
Charl Schwartzel: Coming off a sixth-place showing at Valspar, though hasn’t played here since T-47 in 2011.
Louis Oosthuizen: Hasn’t played here much recently but was T-9 at 2015 API. Not in elite form, though, after T-48 in Mexico and T-21 at Honda.
Ryan Moore: Was T-4 here in 2012 but not anything better than T-60 since. Games is in good shape, though, as he’s gone T-18 and T-28 the last two weeks.
Adam Hadwin: Coming off a victory at Valspar, his eighth straight made cut on Tour, too. T-36 in API debut last year.
NO. 6 SEEDS
Wesley Bryan: Making API debut but he’s gone T-7, T-4 and T-4 in his last three Tour starts.
Tony Finau: T-43 last year at Bay Hill and coming off fifth-place finish at Valspar.
Alex Noren: T-55, MC in his last two starts, but he is the 11th-ranked player in the world and this could be a layout where he turns it around.
Branden Grace: Like Noren, hasn’t stood out this season on either Tour, but he is a top-20 player in the world with some experience at Bay Hill.
Martin Laird: Past champion at Bay Hill (2011) has never missed a cut here in seven starts. MC at Valspar, but already has five finishes of T-13 or better this season.
Jason Kokrak: T-20 last year followed finishes of T-6 and fourth at Bay Hill. Three straights cuts made entering this week, too.
Sean O’Hair: if his neck is OK, O’Hair is a nice horse for this course. He was T-26 last year at Bay Hill, but has made nine of 11 cuts with three top 10s.
Graham DeLaet: T-22 at Valspar was worst finish in last four Tour starts. Also has a 1-th, T-17 and T-9 during that span.