PGA Tour: 6 Players Who Can Win the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill

Fred AltvaterContributor IIMarch 23, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 24:  Jason Dufner acknowledges the crowd on the 18th hole during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 24, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

As the second round is winding down, there are a host of familiar names at the top of the Arnold Palmer Invitational leaderboard.

Even though the top European players are not in the field this week, there are still plenty of talented, big names to add glitter to Arnie’s Kingdom.

Jason Dufner has completed second-round play and is currently at nine under par and leading by three shots. 

Dufner lost the 2011 PGA Championship in a playoff to Keegan Bradley. He is having a solid year thus far in 2012, making seven of eight cuts, and is currently ranked 42nd in the FedEx Cup.  A win this week would be a huge boost for the unflappable Dufner.

Former U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell has only played in three events on the PGA Tour heading into the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but he tied for 33rd, ninth and 13th and is trending in the right direction.

McDowell struggled in 2011 but appears to be getting his game put back together.  Maybe this will be the week to get his second PGA Tour win.

Bay Hill should be a perfect fit for long-hitting Bubba Watson.  Bubba played extremely well at the Tavistock Cup on Monday and Tuesday this week.  He has had a great start this year with a runner-up at the WGC-Cadillac and tying for fifth in Phoenix.  If he can keep his putter working, Bubba could be the favorite this week.

Sergio Garcia double-bogeyed the 18th at Bay Hill at the end of his first round and still carded an even-par 72.  He is five under par on his second round with two holes left to play and has put himself solidly into the mix for the weekend.  Sergio had two wins in his native Spain at the end of 2011 and has been playing much better of late.

Charles Howell III is currently ineligible for the Masters and needs to get the win at Bay Hill to get an invite.  Howell is very consistent and has had a good start to the 2012 season, though his putter has been holding him back somewhat.  If he can find the cup with a few putts over the weekend, he may just be able to punch his ticket to Augusta.


Ian Poulter has completed play in his second round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.  He carded a three-under-par 69 to go along with his first-round 71, which puts him at four under par and currently tied for seventh. 

Poulter battled pneumonia and has struggled thus far in 2012.  It will be interesting to see if he has enough stamina to compete on the weekend.

Don’t forget Tiger Woods and Ernie Els.  Ernie is also trying to qualify for the Masters and needs the win to secure his spot.  Tiger is striking the ball extremely well, and if he can sort out his putter, he will be in the mix on Sunday afternoon.

With the King on hand to pass out the hardware on Sunday and a host of big names at the top of the leaderboard, it should be another great weekend of golf on the PGA Tour.


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