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Tiger Woods Must Outlast Strong Field at Bay Hill: A Fan's Look

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill will begin March 22. For many golfers, this is the last chance to tune up before the Masters. A lot of the big international stars are not at the event. Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, and Lee Westwood are all elsewhere for this tournament.

But there are still plenty of huge names slated to participate. With the stellar field that is lined up for the event, the Arnold Palmer Invitational should be a huge success for golf fans.

The two biggest names in the field are Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Woods is slated to play less than two weeks after he withdrew from the WGC-Cadillac Championship because of a sore Achilles tendon. Assuming he can stay healthy, Woods should be a huge threat at Bay Hill. He has won this tournament six times during his career. His most recent title came in 2009. If he is going to break out of his funk and win a PGA event, this is as good a chance as he will have.

Mickelson is also a former winner at this event. His title came all the way back in 1997. Mickelson did not play at the last WGC event, but he does have a title in 2012. He outlasted Woods to win the Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year. Mickelson is also looking to gear up for the Masters, a tournament that has been kind to him in his career. When people aren't watching Tiger, they are going to be watching Phil.

Aside from these two big stars, the Arnold Palmer Invitational has a good mix of other talented golfers. Webb Simpson and Justin Rose are both ranked in the top 10 in the world. There are a total of nine 2012 winners in the field, including Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan. Former major winners like Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, and Graeme McDowell are also here. Nick Watney, Bubba Watson, K.J. Choi, and Sergio Garcia add to the already impressive group of names at Bay Hill. It is going to be a great event.

Obviously, Woods has to be considered a favorite. He has owned this tournament, and he knows that this is a great chance to get over the hump and win a PGA event. Assuming he is healthy there is no reason to think he can't win. However, my money is on one of the younger stars. Watson and Watney have both been solid and this is a good spot for one of them to break through with their first win in 2012. I have a feeling we will see one of those two names on top of the leaderboard when the tournament ends.

* - Mark Paul is an avid golf fan. He has watched and played golf since high school.

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