This week is bittersweet on the PGA Tour. The Arnold Palmer Invitational has long been a favorite among golfers and fans, and this year’s field is stacked with 13 of the top 20 players in the world in attendance, including four of the top five. However, it will be the first tournament since Palmer passed away last September. The man known as “The King” left a lasting impression on the golf world as his generosity, character, and playing ability were unmatched. Players will no doubt be trying to keep their emotions in check while navigating the course this week.
Bay Hill is a Par 72 course that plays around 7,420 yards. The Par 5s are reachable, the Par 4s are tough, and the Par 3s are long as each of them play over 200 yards. Approach yardages to focus on this week are 175-200 yards and >200 yards. Saving strokes around the green is key this week so make sure you look hard at the SG:ATG (Strokes Gained: Around The Green) statistic.
Since there are only 120 players in the field this week and 70 make the cut, so you might need all six of your golfers to make the cut in order to cash in most contests on DraftKings. Last year, 14 percent of lineups had 6/6 make the weekend. Picking longshot sleepers will be a risky strategy in this tournament.
Key Stats: Birdie or Better (BoB%), T2G (Tee to Green), SG: ATG, Bogey Avoidance (BA), SG: APP, Putting 10′-20′
With that, let’s look at the top golfers to target on DraftKings for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Henrik Stenson ($11,500)
Here are the highlights we had last week for Stenson:
“Stenson is the top-ranked golfer in our Fantasy Fanatics projections model week despite not having many stats to dissect on the PGA Tour this season. What he does have is European Tour stats that are very impressive. He ranks fourth in Stroke Average, fourth in GIR, and sixth in Driving Accuracy. Stenson should be the chalk this week but needs to be played in your lineups as he hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since September (not counting last week’s withdrawal due to sickness). We’re not worried about his WD and you shouldn’t either. He is the top-ranked golfer in the field and has proven to be worthy of it.”
Everything still applies this week and we can add a seventh-place finish from last week’s event. He also boasts four straight top 10s at Bay Hill since 2013.
Rickie Fowler ($9,900)
Rickie Fowler comes into the event ranked in the top 10 in almost every stat we are using this week. He has by far the best stat makeup for Bay Hill. He ranks 1st in BA, 1st in Scoring Average, 5th in T2G, 4th in Par 4 Scoring, and 10th in Approaches 200-225 yards. In his last three events, he has placed 16th, 1st and 4th. Although missed the cut at Bay Hill just three years ago, he also has 3rd and a 29th in the last four years. His game is in perfect form to dominate Bay Hill this week and if he can roll the flat stick like he normally does, you will catch him around the lead on Sunday.
Value Picks and Sleepers
Paul Casey ($8,800)
We normally don’t give a value play so close to $9,000 but Casey is in a prime position to contend this week. He ranks 6th in BA, 12th in T2G, 15th in Par 4 Scoring, and 16th in SG:APP. He’s also strong in approaches 200-225 yards, which should help him on these long Par 3s. Casey has made five straight cuts and finished 16th and 11th in his last two events, respectively. After missing the cut here in 2015, Casey bounced back with a ninth-place finish last year. He will look to ride his momentum into another great result and makes for a top value at his price tag on DraftKings.
Marc Leishman ($6,800)
Leishman has not been playing like a bottom feeder. His $6,800 salary is only $300 higher than the $6,500 minimum on DraftKings. In his last four events, Leishman has posted a 27th, 24th, and a 20th. Those are not the results of a golfer priced this low.
He also has some good history at Bay Hill, placing 17th, 31st, and 3rd in three of the last six years. Leishman has been striking the ball really well this year and it shows in stats: 17th in BA, 20th in BoB%, and 29th in Par 4 Scoring. Add to that his ranking of 36th in SG:ATG and 3rd in total putting , and he makes for a really good fit at Bay Hill this year.
Bounce Back Candidate
Kevin Na ($7,600)
Na has been completely unpredictable so far this season, playing great at times while horrendous at other times. When you dissect his results, you’ll find three areas where he needs to improve: Bogey Avoidance, Par 5 Scoring and Greens in Regulation. It’s fascinating that he ranks in the hundreds in GIR as he ranks 17th in approaches 150-175, 40th in approaches 200-225 and 25th in SG:APP. He has a ranking of 42nd in T2G added with those stats, so it’s kind of dumbfounding how he makes so many bogeys, especially on Par 5s.
Na is also one of the top players in the game around the green, ranking 19th on tour in SG:AG. He will look to bounce back from his first missed cut of the season, and we think Bay Hill is a perfect spot for it.
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