Here's a sucker bet for you: I'll bet you that the winner at this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational will be farther under par than last year's winner (some guy named Woods).
I don't even have to pay attention to know I've got this one in hand. In his latest tinker with the Bay Hill set-up, Arnie has converted the course from a par 72 back to par 70. The winner can take seven strokes more than Tiger's 275 and still be more under par.
He added several bunkers near the 300-yard mark on the uphill 4th, trying to make it play as a true three-shot hole. The next step, I suppose, will be to bring in ancient Chinese laborers to construct a Great Wall across the fairway.
The 16th hole has not been changed, except in par. It was played as a par-5 for years, then shifted to par-4 in 2007 in an effort to "protect par." Now it's a par-5 again. The idea is to make the finish more "exciting," by creating the possibility of an eagle near the end of the round.
Why does this silliness persist? The hole is the same no matter what number is on the card. It's a four-and-a-half par hole; make four and you'll gain on the field, make five and you lose a little. Why should it matter if that four is called a "birdie" or a "par"?
The tees are here. The holes are over there. Fewest strokes wins. Call 'em whatever you like.