The Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard‘s field features five of the top nine and 22 of the top 35 in the golf rankings on hand for the first time this event will be played since the golf legend’s death on Sept. 25th.
The star power in the field at Bay Hill Club & Lodge is led by defending champion Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler.
Masters champion Danny Willett, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson, Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson, Vijay Singh and Martin Kaymer are other notables in the field.
There has been a lot of talk on both sides of the argument about some of the game’s big names including Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, and Adam Scott not being in the field at Arnie’s tournament this week.
“Disappointing,” Billy Horschel said on his Twitter as to 10 of top 25 in the field. “Totally understand schedule issues. But 1st year without AP. Honor an icon! Without him wouldn’t be in position we are today.”
Ian Poulter, who is in the field, defended those who are taking the week off pointing to the fact that some player simply do not like the course.
“It’s going to be a fantastic week,” Poulter told ESPN. “It’s going to be a celebration of Arnie. The field is fine. There are some people who do not like that course and they are absolutely not disrespecting Arnie … I don’t think we have to discuss who isn’t there. I think it’s unfair to the tournament. Let’s focus on the family and make it a great week for them.”
“This is one of the strongest fields we’ve ever had for the tournament,” Marci Doyle, the tournament’s chief operating officer, said on baynews9.com. “The course is in terrific condition, we have a very strong purse and every day we have something special planned to celebrate Mr. Palmer’s life and legacy. It’s going to be a great week.”
Tiger Woods and John Daly, two of golf’s more transcendent golfers, have been part of the chatter leading into the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Woods announced on Thursday that he would not be playing in the tournament that he was won eight times as he continues his rehab.
Daly, on the other hand, will be playing in the event for the first time since 2006.
“Excited to go back to #BayHill it’s definitely one of my favorite places to play my entire career!” Daly said on his Facebook page. I’ll ALWAYS appreciate what Arnold did for the game of golf & when Arnold asked for me to play I vowed I’d always be there! A tribute to ARNY this year & to a man who inspired an army! #KING”
Golf Channel has live coverage Thursday and Friday and early coverage on the weekend. NBC has live coverage on Saturday and Sunday. PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com will have coverage all four days.