photo courtesy the Arnold Palmer Invitational
The PGA Tour continues it’s swing through Florida this weekend as the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard comes to Palmer’s famed Bay Hill Club and Lodge in suburban Orlando. This year's tournament boasts a very strong field including Jason Day, Francesco Molinari, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and defending champion Rory McIlroy. The tournament also serves as a warmup before next week’s prodigious and prestigious Players Championship.
The tournament can trace its history to the Florida Citrus Open Invitational, founded in 1966. That tournament was hosted by Rio Pinar Country Club, but the tournament moved to its current home at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in 1979. The tournament began its official relationship with Arnold Palmer in 2007, though Palmer had bought the property in 1974. After Palmer’s death in 2016, the tournament has given out a red cardigan sweater to the winner to honor the legendary golfer. The tournament has been won by numerous notable golfers, including Palmer himself in 1971. Other notable winners include Lee Trevino, Fuzzy Zoeller, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day. The undisputed king of the event is Tiger Woods with 8 wins, the nearest challengers have only managed 2 wins.
8 time winner Tiger Woods. photo courtesy Getty Images
The Arnold Palmer Invitation is 1 of only 5 tournaments on the PGA Tour that are invitational. The tournament field is smaller than the typical PGA Tour event, with only 120 golfer invited to play. The following list shows how invitations are determined for the event. Invitations are handed out in this order until all slots are filled.
- Arnold Palmer Invitational winners from the last 5 years and all those prior to 2000
- The Players Championship and all major championship winners from the last five years
- The Tour Championship, World Golf Championships, and Memorial Tournament winners from the past three years
- All PGA Tour tournament winners in the past year
- Playing members of last named U.S. and European Ryder Cup teams
- All current PGA Tour members who played on the last U.S. Presidents Cup and International Presidents Cup teams
- Last year’s U.S. Amateur winner (if still an amateur)
- Top 50 Official World Golf Ranking
- PGA Tour life members
- 18 sponsors exemptions, with 2 coming from Web.com Tour finals, 8 for Tour members not otherwise exempt, and 8 open to any golfer
- Up to two foreign players chosen by the commissioner
- Top 70 from prior year's FedEx Cup points list
- Members in the top 125 non-member category whose prior year non-WGC points equal or exceed the 70th position on the prior year FedEx Cup points list
- Top 70 from current year's FedEx Cup points list
- Remaining positions filled from current year's FedEx Cup points list
There are numerous ticketing options available to spectators looking to catch the action in person. Daily tickets are available for $60 and are good for any one day of the tournament week. A Weekly Grounds Badge that gives you daily access is also available for only $120. There are numerous upgrades available, including the local favorite Birdies & BBQ ticket for $85. This ticket offers access to the grounds as well as BBQ from 4 rivers smokehouse and Anheuser-Busch brand beers in an open air venue overlooking the 9th fairway. Fans can also purchase tickets to the Mastercard Palmer Patio for $155, which includes an air conditioned indoor sports bar experience and patio seating with views of the 14th hole. This is open only to Mastercard holders, and upgraded food and beverages will be available for purchase only with a Mastercard. Spectators can also choose the all-inclusive Club 8 that offers views of the 8th green and the 2nd tee box. For $350, fans can enjoy a lunch buffet and full bar service in the comfortable open-air venue. Youth grounds tickets are available fo $20 for kids 13-17, with kids 12 and under free with a ticketed adult. All tickets are available for a 10% discount when purchased with a Mastercard. And last, Complimentary Any One Day tickets are available for all United States active duty and military retirees and one guest. Discounted tickets are also available for US non-retired veterans, plus one guest at $27.50 per ticket.
Television coverage will be available for fans at home through the Golf Channel and NBC starting Thursday and Friday, 2-6pm ET on Golf Channel. Coverage on Saturday and Sunday will be provided 12:30-2:30pm ET on the Golf Channel, before switching to NBC from 2:30-6pm ET. Streaming coverage will be provided online by PGA Tour Live, with PGA Tour Radio providing radio commentary on SiriusXM and PGATour.com.