The 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational begins on Thursday from Bay Hill Club & Lounge, and many of golf’s elite will be on-hand. Weather won’t be a factor early, with the latest Orlando forecast calling for sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s for the first two rounds. Last year, Rory McIlroy won this tournament by three strokes and, this time out, he won’t have to content with Tiger Woods, who withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational 2019 with a neck strain. Woods hopes to return for the Players Championship next week. In the meantime, McIlroy is the favorite in the latest 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational odds at 8-1, while Justin Rose, who finished third in this tournament last year, is hot on his heels at 12-1. Before you make any 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational picks or enter any PGA DFS tournaments or cash games on sites like DraftKings and FanDuel, make sure to see the latest PGA predictions from the team at SportsLine.

SportsLine’s prediction model, built by DFS pro Mike McClure, has nailed four of the past eight majors entering the weekend and called Tiger Woods’ deep run in the PGA Championship despite being a 25-1 long shot. The model has been spot-on early in the 2018-19 season. It was high on champion Dustin Johnson at the 2019 WGC-Mexico Championship, projecting him as one of the top two contenders from the start. It also correctly predicted Brooks Koepka’s (9-1) victory at the CJ Cup earlier this season. Additionally, it correctly called Bryson DeChambeau’s (9-1) seven-shot victory at the 2019 Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Anyone who has followed the model is up huge. 

Now that the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational field is locked, SportsLine simulated the event 10,000 times and the results were surprising. One huge shocker the model is calling for: McIlroy, the defending champion and top Vegas favorite on the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational odds board, makes a strong run but falls short of winning the title. 

Thus far in the 2018-19 PGA schedule, McIlroy has already racked up four top-10 finishes. And although he has 14 career PGA Tour victories, he’s only finished on top of the leaderboard once since 2016.

Despite his red-hot start to the new season, McIlroy enters the 2019 Arnold Palmer Classic ranked 171st on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy percentage (57.39), which could cause major trouble at Bay Hill. His inability to keep the ball in the fairway off the tee will leave McIlroy scrambling around Palmer’s famed Championship Course. He’s not a strong pick to win it all and there are far better values in this loaded field than the 8-1 premium he’s commanding.

Another surprise: Tommy Fleetwood, a 33-1 long shot, makes a strong run at the title. He’s a target for anyone looking for a big payday.

Fleetwood is an emerging star who divides his time between the European and PGA Tour. He has yet to win a tournament on the PGA Tour, but has five international victories under his belt, including the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship a year ago. He also turned in back-to-back top-10 finishes at the Turkish Airlines Open and WGC-HSBC Champions in late 2018.

Despite not winning on the PGA Tour, Fleetwood has proven he can play with the top golfers in the world. In fact, he was the runner-up to Brooks Koepka last year at the U.S. Open despite shooting a 78 in his third round. Plus, he earned a top-10 finish at this event in 2017, which bodes well for Fleetwood’s chances this week at Bay Hill. He has an Official World Golf Ranking of 14 and possesses all the skills needed to shoot up the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational leaderboard in a hurry.

Also, the model says three other golfers with 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational odds of 18-1 or longer make a strong run at the title. Anyone who backs these underdogs could hit it big. 

So who wins the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational? And which long shots stun the golfing world?

Rory McIlroy 8-1
Justin Rose 12-1 
Brooks Koepka 12-1 
Rickie Fowler 14-1 
Jason Day 16-1 
Bryson DeChambeau 18-1 
Hideki Matsuyama 28-1 
Marc Leishman 
Francesco Molinari 33-1 
Tommy Fleetwood 33-1 
Patrick Reed 40-1 
Phil Mickelson 40-1

SOURCE: CBSsports