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Golf Australia Express : Issue 28
March 22-25 WHILEPLAYERS won’t encounter the daunting Bear Trap, infamous Blue Monster or dreaded Snake Pit this week, they’ll sure to find a beast of sorts when they tackle Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Golf & Lodge. Formerly the Bay Hill Invitational, the Arnold Palmer Invitational marks the final PGA Tour event in the four-week Florida swing. Of the past five winners at Bay Hill, none have fared better than 11-under. And there’s little doubt this week's scores will also be tight. Exuding a special aura of its own, Arnie’s course hosts one the premier titles on Tour, annually attracting strong fields with major contenders looking to fine-tune their games in the lead up to The Masters in a fortnight. As one of only five tournaments given "invitational" status by the PGA Tour, it has a reduced field of 120 players. Many of golf’s biggest names, such as Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh have enjoyed success at Palmer’s superbly revamped track. But none have a record to match Tiger. He’s the out-an-out king of this beast with six ‘Ws’—including four in a row from 2000-2003. And his ’08 and’09 wins both came after holing clutch birdie putts on the final hole. OTG Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Florida, USA Purse US$6,000,000 Defending Champ: Martin Laird (SCO) THE EVENT THE DEFENDER - Martin Laird IT’S NOT often a final round 75 is good enough win on the PGA Tour. But that was the case for Martin Laird, who finished the 2011 event at 8-under, becoming the first European to win at Bay Hill. The 29-year-old Scot earned his second PGA title after two- putting from 90 feet on the final green to defeat American Steve Marino by a shot. And the Colorado State University graduate returns to Bay Hill in good early season form, highlighted by a 2nd at the season opening Tournament of Champions and 5th at the WGC-Accenture World Match Play. What’s happening on the PGA Tour this week PEEK THE