Over two months into the PGA Tour season, a dominant storyline has been the lack of star power at the top of leaderboards. 2024 has been the year of the longshot, as tournament favorites haven’t been taking home the hardware.

Is the absence of superstar success on the PGA Tour a legitimate problem, or are people overreacting to a small sample size of tournaments? A bit of both. Fluky weather has heavily influenced a few tournaments this year, which has encouraged chaos. But the combination of equipment advancements and soft, short golf course setups also encourages randomness. Outside of the Genesis Invitational, which produced an exciting finish with high-profile names in contention, we really haven’t seen a strong field face a true long-iron competition.

Well, we’re getting a long-iron competition with a strong field this week. The Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill presents a longer, more demanding test than most tournaments played so far this season. And with the notable exception of the LIV contingent, nearly every top player in the world will tee it up this week at Arnie’s Place. This week’s winner will likely be a player with both plenty of firepower off the tee and a proficiency with long irons.

When considering players who model well for Bay Hill, Rory McIlroy is right at the top of the list. Winner of the API in 2018, McIlroy has the perfect skill set to thrive at Bay Hill. One of the longest drivers in the world, Bay Hill gives McIlroy the freedom to let it rip off the tee. That’s because the course is relatively friendly to wayward drives, even when the rough is juicy. Rory has played in every edition of this tournament since 2015, and he’s only finished outside the top 15 once over that span.

Between loose shots while in contention in Dubai and sloppy mistakes during the West Coast swing, Rory has let quite a few strokes get away from him over the past couple months, as he is prone to do. With major championship season looming, now would be a good time for McIlroy to tidy up the mistakes and start stacking dominant performances against strong fields. Some sloppiness in early January is understandable, but we’re quickly approaching the part of the calendar where sloppiness ruins chances to win the most important tournaments in golf.

Barring extreme weather, the API should be a prime opportunity for McIlroy to get himself into contention and potentially return to the winner’s circle. The PGA Tour would benefit enormously from an exciting Sunday finish, and so would Rory.

This piece originally appeared in the Fried Egg Golf newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.