Arnold Palmer Invitational March 16th-19th

It is March Madness time in the basketball world, Baseball is just around the corner, and we have some solid golf tournaments on the schedule, so it is an awesome time for sports in general. We stay in Florida this week with the Arnold Palmer Invitational from Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando. Obviously, this week the focus will mostly be on the man who will not be in attendance as this is the first API since Arnold Palmer’s death. I was a little surprised that some of the top players are still skipping this event with all the tributes that will be paid to the King, but we will jump into who is going to be playing in a bit.

Course

Bay Hill Club & Lodge is a Par 72 course measuring in at right around 7400 yards. Similar to last week you are going to see most golfers choosing to club down off the tee which will set them up with some mid to long range iron shots. Like most courses in Florida, the wind speed will play a huge role in determining the scoring conditions so I will be monitoring that as the week goes on. Last year the course played slightly easier than usual and Jason Day took home the W at -17, with the cut coming in at E Par. The course features plenty of bunkers and water so the potential for some giant numbers is there, but overall, I expect to see some low scores posted. Here are some of the key stats and factors I will be using to target my core golfers:

Shots gained Approach – With this being somewhat of a second shot course with all the club downs off the tee I will be targeting players who excel with their irons and can give themselves plenty of birdie chances on the greens.

Scrambling – Will factor this in more if it is windy as that will lead to less greens hit and more scrambling opportunities.

Birdie or Better % / Bogey Avoidance – Both always important, but I will emphasize BoB % if it seems like ideal scoring conditions and Bogey Avoidance if the conditions seem like they will be difficult. Right now leaning BoB %, weather looks great, and course should be ideal for scoring.

Course has Bermuda greens if you are looking for putting angles, but that is more of a secondary factor for me this week.

Field

Since this is an invitational, the field is slightly atypical with 120 players scheduled to compete as opposed to the usually 150+. It is a pretty solid field with 14 of the top 25 golfers in the world scheduled to play, but with Palmers passing I expected it to be loaded. We have a nice batch of the talented Euro players in the field who are pretty much staying over here while prepping for the Masters. It will be interesting to see how some of them play in their first appearance at this tournament.

Recap

If there was an award for most tournaments with Adam Hadwin exposure I definitely would be nominated. I have been on Hadwin a ton the past two years and was happy to see him finally get a W on the tour. However, I would have preferred it not be a week where he was not on my short list of golfers, but luckily, I did still have decent exposure so it was not a total disaster. I really preferred Glover and Kirk at basically the same price point which was the main reason for reduced Hadwin exposure. Glover was great and played solid golf the entire week while Chris Kirk was giant dumpster fire. Seriously, Kirk set back Golf and Society as a whole with his abysmal showing.

Overall my week was uneventful with enough Hadwin, Stenson and Dufner to have some solid 6/6’s and some really good 5/6’s that balanced out some ugly teams. Had a few teams that were a Hadwin>Kirk switch away from putting up insane scores, but hindsight certainly 20/20. Excited for this week with a better field and a course that I think will suit some of my favorite players.

Side note – I am in New York and just looked at the weather forecast for Tuesday / Wednesday and we are expecting to get 2 FEET of snow. Assuming I am not buried in an avalanche these are some of the top golfers I plan to use.

Targets

Top Tier

Henrik Stenson $11,500 DK / $22,000 FDraft – Going to be popular, and for good reason. When you think of great approach with long irons or 200+ yard shots the list starts with Stenson. It makes sense why he has four straight top 10 showings here at Bay Hill and was solid last week at the Valspar. Stenson makes sense pretty much in any format, but you certainly are not going to be alone in rostering him.

Ricky Fowler $9,900 DK / $20,700 FDraft – Obviously with the talent at the top there are a bunch of directions you can go that make sense, but I find myself gravitating to Fowler this week. Ricky won in Florida just a few weeks ago, and when his game is clicking he looks like he belongs in that top tier of golfers. This year he has been all worldly around the green and at avoiding bogeys so he should be able to limit the damage if and when he gets into trouble.

Paul Casey $8,800 DK / $19,100 FDraft – Last few tourneys Casey has played he has not made much noise, but finished within the top 20 for decent showings. Then when you go and look how awful his putting has been, you realize how good he must be striking the ball to even remotely be in contention. Casey’s putting can only improve, and he has the great iron game that we want at Bay Hill. He is an ideal buy low candidate as once he gets his putter in order you are going to see him right in contention come Sunday with a much higher price tag in future weeks.

Middle Tier

Kevin Na $7,600 DK / $17,300 FDraft – Na was fighting illness last week and did not look good, but I am hoping that was blip rather than a trend. He has great course history here and a game that sets up well for a course like this which has me willing to take a shot with his price in the midrange. One thing to note is his price range is crowded and there are some other options in the midrange that I do not mind, but I expect another solid showing at Bay Hill from Na.

Kevin Kisner $7,600 DK / $17,300 FDraft – Kisner is a player that I am fan of in life, but I also think he is sneaky this week. He has been relatively quiet so far in 2017, but still is playing solid golf and sets up well for this course. Kisner really is solid across the board stat wise with no glaring weakness, and his irons and solid putting should allow him to be in contention this week.

Matthew Fitzpatrick $7,500 DK / $17,100 FDraft – Brendan Steele and Cabrera Bello are both not in the field this week so Matthew Fitzpatrick is next up on my guilty pleasure list. I absolutely love him in GPP format as he rarely is popular, but always has massive upside. There will be a cut risk with the way he plays as he could dunk a few in the water this week, but the reward is greater than the risk for me and I think he again may be sub 5% owned across the board.

Lower Tier

Billy Horschel $7,000 DK / $16,500 FDraft – More of a feel play than math based, but I think Horschel comes to play this week. He has been vocal about players choosing to skip this event and is taking the tournament extremely seriously to honor Palmer so hopefully he does not press too much and brings his A game. He was awful last week, but had a top 5 in Florida a few weeks ago, and has made the cut here four straight years. Not somebody I am going to have massive exposure to, but I think he makes some noise this week with low ownership.

Chris Kirk $6,800 DK / $15,900 FDraft–  This one hurts. Kirk killed me and a lot of other people last week and he really was just terrible. Having said that his price is solid and I am willing to give him another go this week with what should be reduced ownership. Taking a closer look into last week his approaches actually were not terrible, he just could not put the ball in play off the tee. With a lot of clubbing down expected this week I am hoping Kirk can set himself up to really attack some pins and keep the ball out of the rough off the tee.

Lucas Glover $6,700 DK / $16,200 FDraft – Glover got the job done last week and now he is priced towards the bottom this week making him a nice last man on my teams. Mentioned last week about him being an awful putter, and will basically reiterate the same point – If he can just be average or even slightly below average with the putter we will be okay as his ball striking is elite. Plus, if you decide to pay up for Rory or another top guy you are probably going to have to dip pretty far down salary wise and there are not many options that I would even look to in this range besides Glover.

Fades / Notes

Adam Hadwin $8,400 DK / $17,400 FDraft – More of a situation where I hate the price more than the player, but there is absolutely no value left in Hadwin after his W last week. The players he is priced next to are a tier above him in talent and although I am a huge fan of the Canadian I will have no Hadwin this week. Plus, he is scheduled to get married next week so I really cannot imagine he comes in hungry or focused this week.

FanDuel – FanDuel has added golf and the format is different than what we are used to. Basically, you choose four golfers for rounds 1 and 2 and then four different golfers for rounds 3 and 4. Not sure how it is going to shake out, but it will certainly make for interesting strategy and potential edge if we can figure out how to attack it early in the year.

Good luck everyone!

If you have any questions find me in the FanVice Premium slack chat or on Twitter @JazzrazDFS