Arnold Palmer Invitational 2012: Contenders with Best Shot at Taking Down Tiger

Scott SemmlerAnalyst IIMarch 24, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 24:  Graeme McDowell of Ireland looks over a shot 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

Tiger Woods is in command heading into Sunday at Bay Hill, but with his recent final-round failures, there is now more than just a chance of a player coming from behind and taking down one of the best to ever play the game in final rounds.

We saw several players make their move on Saturday, including Ernie Els, who fired one of the lower rounds of the day with a 67.

While Woods and his playing partner on Sunday, Graeme McDowell, both stayed sturdy with 71's, Els, Ian Poulter and Charles Howell III all grabbed strokes on the leaders of Saturday, firing 67, 68 and 68 respectively.

If they are to take down either Woods or McDowell, two of the better final-round competitors, it will take a lot more than two- or three-under par rounds on Sunday at Bay Hill.

Here are three contender to watch out for on Sunday.


Graeme McDowell

McDowell has a history with Woods. Their playoff at the 2010 Chevron World Challenge declared to the world that McDowell was a player to watch out for on the PGA Tour. However, a terrible 2011 brought him right back down to earth, only to rise back up again in 2012.

He is not a notorious final-round player by any means. His 74 on Sunday at the 2010 U.S. Open was just enough for him to hold on at Pebble Beach, and his 69 in the face of Woods' 73 at the 2010 Chevron World Challenge was not as unique as Woods choking the tournament away.

What McDowell does have is a consistent swing and a superb driving accuracy, two things that have been on display this week at Bay Hill.

Woods has yet to show the PGA Tour a good final round with a chance of winning since 2009. McDowell has the game to make that drought last a little longer.


Bubba Watson

Never count out Bubba Watson on the PGA Tour these days. He is consistently on the front page of the leaderboard in nearly every event he participates in these days.

The "so-called" bad blood between Watson and Woods is enough to fuel at least a little friendly competition anyways.

Currently, Watson is six shots back of Woods at five-under par, but with that driving distance, anything is possible, as it is with his short game.  

He will need a little help from both Woods and McDowell on Sunday, but the way Watson has been playing, we should never count him out of a tournament.


Ian Poulter

We keep looking for this signature win from Poulter to decorate him as a premiere player in golf. However, we continually see him in top-10s and top-5s without actually claiming that top spot in big-time tournaments.

Could Sunday be his chance?

If Saturday is any indication, then yes.

Poulter fired a four-under par 68 and is just three shots back of Woods heading into the final round. He has the game the come back from a deficit like this, even against one of the best to ever play the game.

He will have to hurdle some outstanding players in the process if he is going to contend for the win on Sunday, but the weather could get a little restless in the final round, which would mean that the leaders should come back to the field.

If Poulter is one of those players that can stay sturdy throughout the entire day, we should see him contending on the back nine.