Why Graeme McDowell Is the Favorite to Win the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2013

DORAL, FL - MARCH 10:  Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland walks across a green during the final round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at the Trump Doral Golf Resort & Spa on March 10, 2013 in Doral, Florida.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Warren Little/Getty Images

The obvious call would be that Tiger Woods will defend the championship he won last year and walk away with the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

If Woods is able to gain the victory, it would be his second straight win on the tour and his third of the young season.

While Woods will get most of the attention and is the favorite among those who bet on golf tournament winners, Brandt Snedeker will also get quite a bit of attention.

Snedeker is the leading money winner on the PGA Tour this season. He has won one tournament and finished second in two others.

But the obvious favorites don't win every week.

Graeme McDowell has an excellent chance to win at Bay Hill. He'll certainly be motivated after finishing second to Woods last year in that tournament.

Those who follow the tour will recognize that foreign golfers have not fared well on the PGA Tour this season. There have been no foreign winners in the first 12 events. The last time foreign-born players went 13 tournaments without winning was 1989.

McDowell, who learned the game while a youth in Northern Ireland, couldn't care less about who has performed well to this point in the season and is not going to concern himself with anything else but his own game.

McDowell finished ninth in the Honda Classic in early March and then raised the level of his game at the Cadillac Championship at Doral and finished in a tied for third.

A closer look at the Cadillac Championship revealed that McDowell got off to a superb start, firing 67 and 68 in the first two rounds. He came back to the pack in the final two rounds, shooting 73 on moving day and 70 in the final round.

McDowell has earned nearly $850,000 this season and he has finished in the top 10 in three events already this season.

When McDowell's game is strong, he has the ability to compete against the game's best players without getting intimidated.

That's why he should have an excellent chance in a field that includes Woods, Snedeker, Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar.

McDowell may not be one of the tour's biggest hitters, but he is among the most accurate. He is hitting the fairway on 72.86 percent of his drives, a figure that ranks second on the tour.

McDowell is also averaging 69.081 per round, ranking fifth on the tour.

His three top-10 finishes also place him second on the tour in that category.

McDowell has not won on tour since picking up the U.S. Open in 2010. He is very close to winning form, and he has shown he can win a big tournament against top competition.

Look for McDowell to become the first European player to win on the tour this year.


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