The Arnold Palmer Invitational: Who will emerge the winner after the battle with Bay Hill?

Arnie’s Place has always provided a stern examination, often aided by a blustery wind.

There was a time when Tiger Woods dominated the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

In fact, the great man won the tournament no less than eight times from 2000.

And when Woods wasn't the star of the week, it was often an international who thrived: nine of them have been crowned champion in the last 16 years.

Quite why the raiders have had so much fun here is anyone's guess, but the success of arguably the greatest player of them all is rather more straightforwardly explained: the course is long and tough; it was right up his street.

Who will triumph this year? Not the defending champion Bryson DeChambeau who was the undoubted star of last year.

The crowds and social media were agog as he took aim on the par-5 sixth hole, with each day becoming a little more daring in his line across water that had the rest of the field bailing out.

If it seemed like a potentially distracting sideshow he disproved that by going head-to-head with Lee Westwood and emerging the winner.

Let's take a look at three angles which might prove key this week - and which leading contenders they might suit.

The long and the short of it

Conventional wisdom say that the par-5s are where a player builds his score at Bay Hill. Rory McIlroy said: "(Tiger) took care of the par-5s and that was usually good enough to get the job done."

The stats argue otherwise: the last eight winners are ranked top six for the par-3s

Those short holes are tough: three over 215 yards and the fourth is 199.

And that leads to another thought: players often speak of long irons coming into play elsewhere. Jason Kokrak said: "You hit a lot of long irons off the tee on the par-4s."

Sometimes the second shot at the par-5s will be long irons too.

So we're heading towards a course that tests more long irons than normal.

Last year's winner DeChambeau ranked second for hitting Greens in Regulation from 200+ yards and, in all, five of the last six winners have ranked top 20 in that category in a season close to the season of their win. That's a bit woolly, but it indicates that when on their game, the winners were hitting those clubs well and it was advantageous.

Canada's Corey Conners is currently ranked fifth in the same category and was third at Bay Hill last year.

Experience counts

Knowing the challenge here, and having experience of being in contention at the weekend, has been important for winners in the past. In fact, nine of the last 10 of them had already finished top five prior to their win.

"There's really no way to fake it around Bay Hill," said Justin Rose. "The rough's pretty thick. Generally the greens are quite firm which requires pretty pinpoint iron shots. There's enough trouble out there that mentally it's a challenge."

Then he added: "You have to really commit to your shots. There's a lot of intimidating looking golf shots out there on this golf course."

With experience that commitment increases and the intimidation lessens.

Who in this week's field might that favour?

The Englishmen Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood, Korea's Sungjae Im and Adam Scott are notables, with plenty of good finishes.

Rory McIlroy is a past winner and hasn't finished outside the top 10 in five visits.

Kokrak has four top 10s including fourth in 2014.

Interesting names who are yet to land a top five, so must break history to contend, include: Viktor Hovland (three failures to make the top 40), Hideki Matsuyama (a best of sixth, his only top 10, in seven starts) and Jon Rahm (a debutant).

Sunshine state of mind

It's long been recognised that Florida form holds.

The Sunshine State's layouts have Bermuda grass on the fairways and greens, the visuals are resort golf, water hazards are a common factor and the wind can really get up.

Rory McIlroy used to spend a lot of time in the state as a child, he's moved there as an adult, and no-one in the field has a better scoring average in all golf in Florida.

It might be somewhat surprising who follows him in the list however: second is Fitzpatrick, third Rahm and fourth Kokrak.

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