THE countdown to the 2012 US Masters continues this week with the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill resort in Orlando, Florida.
The Invitational is a restricted field event limited to 120 golfers and while some will be using it to fine tune their games for Augusta others are still trying to earn a start in the year’s first major.
Ernie Els is one of those still looking for a win to gain a Masters start after going so close last weekend at Doral.
There are only three Australians in the field – Greg Chalmers, Rod Pampling and Robert Allenby – and they too all need a win or a way to find their way into the world top 50 in the next two weeks.
A number of the leading Australians will be using the Houston Open next week as their final Masters warmup.
Six time winner of this event Tiger Woods is a big interest and will be back on deck after pulling out of Doral with an Achilles problem.
He played the Tavistock Cup earlier in the week and is confident he is back in top shape.
“I feel great and that’s the nice thing about getting treatment for three days, just getting off of it and just working on it two or three times a day, and good to go,” he said on the eve of the tournament.
Only two of the world top ten are competing this week, Justin Rose and Webb Simpson, but other leading lights include Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan and Sergio Garcia.
Rod Pampling may be Australia’s best bet here, having won the event in 2006 and finishing 12th last year, while Greg Chalmers has also been showing some good form recently.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational is been telecast live in Australia on Fox Sports beginning Friday 6am to 9am.
2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational Leaderboard2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational Leaderboard