As the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard tees off this week for the 44th time, the field for one of the PGA TOUR’s premier events is filled with stars who have come to Bay Hill not only to chase history and a piece of the $12 million purse, but to honor Mr. Palmer and everything that he has meant to the game of golf.
“We all know what Arnold Palmer means to the PGA TOUR and to the game of golf in general,” said Rory McIlroy, “so it’s always nice to be here and remember his legacy and what he meant to everyone. He was the catalyst, along with a few other guys, for why we’re here today and why the game of professional golf is at such a high level.”
McIlroy is the fifth-ranked player, and part of a field that includes 15 of the top 30 players in the Official World Golf Ranking competing this week.
Will Zalatoris, the 2021 Arnold Palmer Award winner as the PGA TOUR’s Rookie of the Year, also played college golf at Wake Forest on the Arnold Palmer Scholarship, and said while he never met Mr. Palmer, the opportunity to play in the event bearing his name is truly special.
“He’s the inspiration in our game,” said Zalatoris, who finished T10 in his first appearance at Bay Hill last year. “He was the gentleman of our sport. Everyone out here at this tournament this week feels his presence. Unfortunately, I never met him, but I got a letter from him when I signed with Wake Forest, so the personal connection still means a lot to me.”
The field this week is highlighted by World No. 1 Jon Rahm, No. 4 Viktor Hovland, McIlroy and No. 6 Scottie Scheffler. Rahm, the defending U.S. Open champion, is joined by 2021 Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama, and the field includes 16 players who have won major championships. It also features four players who count the Arnold Palmer Invitational among their career victories, including Tyrrell Hatton (2020), McIlroy (2018), Marc Leishman (2017) and Martin Laird (2011).
With an increased purse of $12 million, the Arnold Palmer Invitational will award $2.16 million and 550 FedExCup points to the 2022 champion.
“I’m excited that our fans will get to see such talented players from all over the world this week,” said Joie Chitwood, Vice President of Corporate Development for the Arnold Palmer Group and Tournament Director for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. “We are thrilled to welcome this high-caliber field including the number one player in the world, Jon Rahm, along with past champions Rory McIlroy and Tyrell Hatton to Orlando’s signature event.”
Thirty-one players in the field have participated in the Arnold Palmer Cup collegiate tournament, including Rickie Fowler, Billy Horschel and Hovland. Also included in the AP Cup alumni list are sponsor exemptions John Pak and Davis Thompson. Pak is a Florida State standout who played in the 2020 Palmer Cup at Bay Hill. Thompson, also a 2020 Arnold Palmer Cup participant, is a graduate of the University of Georgia and a two-time First Team All-American. Sam Bennett, a standout amateur from Texas A&M, was a member of the 2021 Arnold Palmer Cup U.S. team and was voted by his peers to receive an exemption into the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
In addition to watching world’s best golfers take on Bay Hill, fans will enjoy some great new enhancements to the tournament experience. The White Claw Fan Deck is a new venue located near the 15th green and the 16th tee box, offering enhanced viewing and a social oasis where fans can get close to the pros in a vibrant, fun and unique setting at the center of the action for one of the best finishing stretches in golf.
“Right here is where we want to see our fans express some energy and enthusiasm, because on Sunday you’re probably going to see somebody do something on 15, 16 or 17 so that they can survive 18 and win the tournament,” Chitwood said. “We want to make sure the fans on this White Claw Fan Deck are letting our players know how much we support and appreciate what they do.”
All proceeds from the Arnold Palmer Invitational benefit the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation, which supports efforts on behalf of children’s health, youth character development and nature-focused wellness.
“We are so excited as we continue to be part of Mr. Palmer’s legacy at Orlando’s signature event, and we are playing boldly to win,” Chitwood said. “For us, it’s about giving back, and that’s what this tournament allows us to do.”