Pari offers his preview and cheat sheet for the Arnold Palmer Invitational!
ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL OVERVIEW
I can honestly say last week might’ve been the most fun I’ve had watching golf since Tiger won The Masters. Sweating out the Im win all day was more than I was expecting (especially if you paid attention to my Twitter timeline). You have to give it up to Mackenzie Hughes for playing remarkably on the weekend (especially after finding out about his friend who passed away last week – making the cut on the number and shooting 66-66), Tommy who was shredded by Paul Azinger (who ended up shredding himself saying what he said, in the manner he said it) played good enough to win and probably should have if not for an ill-hit bunker shot and a majorly aggressive play on 18 when all he needed was birdie to extend the event. I’m glad it all played out the way it did, but man was that fun.
We shift our focus from the difficult nature of Palm Beach to sunny Orlando where the Arnold Palmer Invitational is held. First off, we have another invitational where the field size is limited, but the cut number remains the same (Top 65 & ties). Making sure your players have upside is a key element in claiming top prizes this week (similar to no cut events) in both scoring and finishing place. The course is much easier than last week as well, playing as a Par 72 with Par 5’s aplenty and easier Par 3’s, but there’s still plenty of water and the wind is expected to be up this week as well (something we’re not used to seeing here).
For that reason, I highly encourage keeping an eye on the forecast and wind tracker leading into Thursday’s opening round. There will probably be a tee time split that’s more favorable, and that could be the edge we need to ensure victory this week.
ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL TOURNAMENT BACKGROUND
o The Course
- Bay Hill Club & Lodge
- Par: 72
- Yardage: 7,400
- Greens: Bermuda
o Location: Orlando, FL
o Corollary Courses (Tournament): Augusta (Masters), TPC Sawgrass (PLAYERS), Quail Hollow (WF), Sheshan Int’l (HSBC), Muirfield Village (Memorial), Torrey Pines – South (Farmers)
o Past Champions:
- 2019: Francesco Molinari -12 over Matthew Fitzpatrick
- 2018: Rory McIlroy -18 over Bryson Dechambeau
- 2017: Marc Leishman -11 over Charley Hoffman & Kevin Kisner
- 2016: Jason Day -17 over Kevin Chappell
- 2015: Matt Every -19 over Henrik Stenson
KEY STATS TO TARGET
o Strong Emphasis – SG: APP, SG: P, Birdie or Better, Scrambling
o Important – P5 Scoring, P4 Scoring 450-500y, APP 200y+, APP 150-175yards
THIS WEEK’S SUGGESTIONS FOR THE ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL
|Byeong Hun An||8700||Cash/GPP|
|Rafa Cabrera Bello||7600||Cash/GPP|
COURSE HORSES (All Formats – Cash & GPP)
Rory McIlroy (DK $11,800)
- History: 6th – Win – 4th – 27th
- Form: DNP – 5th – 5th – DNP
- 2020 Stats (11 measured rounds): 7th – SG: OTT, 3rd – SG: APP, 72nd – SG: P, 1st – SG: T2G
Why I like him: I mentioned it on Twitter yesterday, but it’s only a matter of time before his putter shows up. The betting favorite (at 5/1, which seems a bit ludicrous) has been nails on all year from tee to green, and we’ve seen him jump out to quick leads after 18 holes in multiple events. It’s possible the return to a place with such good memories (his best SG: P event to date came here two years ago) is all he needs to get things back on track, which would make for an interesting story leading into his defense at TPC Sawgrass.
Henrik Stenson (DK $8,800): 17th – 4th – MC – 3rd – 2nd in his last five appearances and while he hasn’t won the event in the past, his game is a strong fit and it shows in his contending almost every year. This will be the first time we’ve seen Stenson since his win at the Hero (where we didn’t have any strokes gained data), but his game usually doesn’t drop too far below his baseline when he takes some time away from the Tour.
Francesco Molinari (DK $7,200): Win – 27th – 7th – 9th – 17th in his last five appearances are the “good” part of this analysis. His play, thus far, is the bad. Since beginning 2020, he’s missed three cuts in three events with a cut (one of which came after he was guaranteed to play three rounds). His tee to green game has been awful, putting included. Playing him this week means you believe in “course history.” If you want to play him, I’d do so as an option in MME GPPs.
VALUE PLAYS (All Formats – Cash & GPP)
Byeong Hun An (DK $8,700)
- History: 10th – 14th – 49th – 36th
- Form: 4th – 29th – DNP – DNP
- 2020 Stats (28 measured rounds): 72nd – SG: OTT, 75th – SG: APP, 193rd – SG: P, 17th – SG: T2G
Why I like him: Immaculate tee to green game sets him up as a strong play almost every week. Last week’s field might’ve been his best opportunity to win after seeing Brooks, Rose & Fowler miss the cut in an already weak field. The price is good enough to stay on board and hope we get more of what we saw on the weekend. His time is coming – hopefully, sooner than later – and at a better price than what we’re getting this week (betting wise).
Charles Howell III (DK $7,200): CH3 was a pre-tourney WD last week, and even though there wasn’t much reasoning behind it, I think it was more schedule or travel based than anything (considering he played “fine” at the WGC Mexico). Unless something comes out about an injury, it’s full-go on Howell this week as he’s been one of the more consistent players in golf over the past two decades and comes in at a very reasonable price for all formats.
Kevin Streelman (DK $7,000): Streelman is more of a value GPP play than a cash play to me, even though he’s made four of his last five cuts here (no finishes inside the Top 40). Strong tee to green play and a balky putter are the primary reasons for this thought. If he continues to play the way he has thus far, he should make for a high upside value.
Honorable Mentions: Marc Leishman (DK $8,600), Bubba Watson (DK $8,300), Keegan Bradley (DK $7,000), Harry Higgs (DK $6,700)
TOURNAMENT ONLY PLAYS
Tommy Fleetwood (DK $11,000)
- History: 3rd – 26th – 10th
- Form: 3rd – 18th – DNP – DNP
- 2019 Stats (50 measured rounds): 12th – SG: OTT, 55th – SG: APP, 55th – SG: P, 13th – SG: T2G
Why I like him: As a huge supporter of Tommy, it killed me to root against him last week, but that’s what happens when we put our hard-earned money on this game. That being said, he played remarkably sans the bunker shot that hit the lip. I don’t discourage his aggressive play on 18, but I do question it when birdie is all he needed to get into the playoff. That all being said, he has a fresh start this week and is a lovely fit for Bay Hill, so we’re back on him in all formats (betting, especially). The $600 discount this week is welcomed.
Adam Scott (DK $9,700): Tee to green is the name of the game, and Adam’s got it all to go along with his good looks. A winner a few weeks ago whilst swinging the broomstick (illegally! [apparently not illegally]). He hasn’t had the best course history here, which might bring him in at a lower ownership than usual having only played three out of the last four editions and a T12 was the best finish in those three.
Sungjae Im (DK $9,500): You’d think I’d be willing to jump ship following the first win of his career, but I think he’s still a strong fit for the course, having finished T3 last year, and I think the popular play will be to fade him. Let’s give him another shot and see if he can make the cut (and then some) after finally cracking the code of winning a tournament.
GPP Only Punts: Hideki Matsuyama (DK $10,600), Patrick Reed (DK $9,400), Ryan Moore (DK $7,400)
CORE PLAYS (Of Those Not Listed)
Bryson Dechambeau (DK $10,400): Runner-up two years ago to Rory and runner-up two events ago to Reed (WGC Mexico), Bryson’s game continues to look great and be a good fit for Bay Hill. He’ll need to start a bit faster or actually take advantage of moving day this time if he plans on winning. I wish his price was cheaper, but he’s clearly in form, so we’ll take what we’re given.
Jason Day (DK $9,100): Winner of this event in 2016 (he beat Chappell). He’s good tee to green and most of his strokes gained come from off the tee, but the real kicker is his putting on bermuda greens. It’s his best surface and we know how hot he can get when the putter is dropping everything in sight.
Emiliano Grillo (DK $7,100): I’m sure Adam will be touting him this week, so I’ll leave the hard-hitting analysis for him. Just know that he’s 2 events removed from a peak putting performance where he didn’t end up the winner (in an alternate field event), which to me says he can’t win this event. That being said, he can certainly return enough value if the putter shows again.
Kevin Chappell (DK $6,200): See Jason Day. Kidding, but not really. Their careers have crossed paths on multiple occasions for different reasons and this week is no different. Day’s strengths are Chappell’s weaknesses and vice versa, but they both are course fits and much different prices.
Thanks for reading and good luck this week from the FGI team!
– Pari, (@hitthehighdraw)
See my DFS predictions for The Honda Classic!