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PGA DFS Picks: Arnold Palmer Invitational

This edition of PGA DFS picks takes us to iconic Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, giving us some key golfers to mix into our winning teams!

PGA DFS Course Notes:

  • Strong invitational field of 123 golfers
  • Cut: Top 65 and ties after 36 holes
  • 2020 winner: Tyrrell Hatton (-4)
  • The course: Bay Hill Club and Lodge (Bay Hill, FL – Dick Wilson design w/Palmer renovations/layout tweaks)
    • Par 72 (7,466 yards)
    • Iconic and difficult venue with lots of water and bunkers in play
    • Played as the hardest course on the PGA Tour last year
    • Pressure golf at its most demanding
    • Bermuda greens and fairways
  • Wind could play a factor this week, rain expected Saturday
  • Focus Stat Categories: Strokes Gained: Approach, SG: Off the Tee, Proximity 200+, SG: Tee to Green, Par 5 scoring, SG: Putting (Bermuda), Opportunities Gained

The Picks:

Elite PGA DFS (DK $9,500 and up):

Rory McIlroy (DK $11,500) – We’re still waiting on the next big win from Rory and while his putting remains a concern, this is as fine a venue as any to take a shot. The track record at Bay Hill is nearly spotless (he’s the 2018 champ and has four straight top six finishes here) and the premium price reflects that. But if we want him on a few of our GPP teams there’s plenty of value golfers we can use to make it happen without it feeling like extreme stars and scrubs.

Viktor Hovland (DK $10,600) – Sia loves him this week and the only possible reason Hovland be considered a “risky” golfer in this top tier because it’s just his third appearance at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. While he’s made the cut both times, he posted a T40 and T42, so we’re expecting a big step forward. The difference between that Viktor and the new Viktor is his ability to drain big putts, and he’s second in my model after Sam Burns, who has yet to break through at Bay Hill as well. Hovland should have a better handle on this difficult layout now and I can’t bet against him – he’ll probably be on my short list for single-entry.

Tyrrell Hatton (DK $10,000) – Hatton won here last year and is 4-for-4 since 2017, when he finished T4 (with McIlroy). He’s showing up in the top five in my models (tweaked for recent form (24 rounds) and the last 75 rounds and is a solid play in all formats. He’s first in the Proximity 200+ yards stats which we know is a huge factor on this beast of a golf course.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (DK $9,800) – There’s going to be a lot of sticker shock when folks see the price this week compared to the Genesis, and even last week when he was just $8,500. He’s an excellent play on a tough golf course where he’s had consecutive Top 10 finishes (including a second place finish in 2019). He could get popular and we’ll just have to watch the projected ownership percentages to see how much we’ll need in GPPs.

Also consider: Bryson DeChambeau (GPP), Patrick Reed, Sungjae Im

Mid-Range PGA DFS (DK $7,600 to $9,400):

Francesco Molinari ($8,700) – The model isn’t in love with him this week because it includes a stretch of rustiness from the Italian. But Molinari has been on the right track recently and the course record here is brilliant, with a win in 2019 and a couple of top tens before that. He’s an option in smaller tournaments (as Joel pointed out in the breakdown video), but his popularity could make him a fade in larger GPPs.

Will Zalatoris (DK $8,600) – There may not be a golf course in the known universe that Zalatoris can’t handle, and despite the fact that this is his Bay Hill debut, the youngster has the chops to flourish where others struggle on this demanding layout. The ball-striking prowess is there, and If the putter can pick up a few strokes on the field, look out.

Max Homa (DK $8,500) – Homa finished T24 in his API debut last season, and his game has taken a big step forward since then – with more ball-striking consistency and dominance of Par 5s, where the scoring usually happens. I really like Homa again this week at a fairly priced $8,500 and I’m considering using him in my core GPP builds.

Sam Burns (DK $8,400) – Burns will undoubtedly be popular this week, but he’s first on my model given his excellent numbers over the past 24 rounds, and I’ll have a tough time getting away from him in all formats. The talent is there, it’s just a matter of how much he’s learned as he tackles this course for the fourth time after three lukewarm results (T49-T-54-T36).

Talor Gooch (DK $7,900) – Gooch may not be ready to contend for a win on Sunday, and neither the model nor his recent form scream “must play” this week. But he’s 2-for-2 at Bay Hill, so we can use him in both cash and GPP if we need a golfer in the $7,500-8,000 range.

Cameron Davis (DK $7,900) – Davis would be my favorite play under $8K if we had any kind of course history to go off, because he’s top five in my model and he can get it done off the tee and on the greens when his putter is rolling. The wind could blow this week, but he’s got an earlier time on Thursday.

Cameron Tringale (DK $7,700) – Tringale has been good lately but hasn’t played this event since 2016. He’s in my model’s top 20 and has excellent SG:APP and SG Par 5 numbers. He hasn’t missed a cut since the Bermuda Championship in late October, and while he might get popular, he’s good value at this price.

Also consider: Jordan Spieth (GPP), Paul Casey, Marc Leishman (GPP), Jason Kokrak, Kevin Na, Lanto Griffin, Charley Hoffman (GPP)

Value PGA DFS (DK $6,600 to 7,500):

Emiliano Grillo (DK $7,400) – Grillo’s ball-striking keeps him in the top 30 of my model, and he’s been trending as a “one week on, next week off” type of golfer with respect to his overall game. We know he struggles on Par 5s and with his putter, but his T11 finish in Puerto Rico (in windy conditions) is a step in the right direction. He hasn’t played here since 2018 but was T7 in 2017.

Luke List (DK $7,200) – He missed the cut at the Genesis Invitational and his ownership should remain pretty low this week despite an affinity for the venue (T17-T7-T10 in his last three appearances here) and decent play since the Sony Open. Like Grillo, List can struggle with the putter but he’s No 15 in my model and the SG: OTT and T2G numbers are elite. I’m considering him for my single entry GPPs.

Chris Kirk (DK $7,000) – I’m noticing a pattern with this price range: good ball striking, bad putting. Kirk fits that bill with more balance in his overall numbers and a a Top 30 ranking in my mode, just ahead of Doc Redman and Max Homa. If you need some value in building a GPP lineup, that’s not a bad trio to start with in large-field MMEs, as adding Cam Davis leaves you with more than $20K for your next two golfers.

Keegan Bradley (DK $7,000) – The recent form isn’t great, but we know that Bradley just tends to show up on the leaderboard out of the blue on venues that play to his strengths. Like the previous three golfers, he has some trouble with the flat stick, but he’s tops in the field in SG:APP over his last 24 rounds and ranks second T2G. If you need a cheap, off-the-wall GPP play to fill out your roster, look no further than the enigmatic Bradley, who’s 5-for-5 here and ranks eighth overall in my model.

Matthew NeSmith (DK $6,900) – NeSmith is popping on everybody’s models this week (he’s third overall on mine) and three straight finishes inside the Top 20 – combined with this low price – should make him extremely popular this week. One of the first column I read this week listed him as a “sleeper” pick, but that might not be the best way to describe a guy who’s approach 15% projected ownership. Still – he’s a decent value play this week despite missing the cut at his first Bay Hill appearance in 2020.

Harold Varner III (DK $6,800) – He hasn’t performed up to his capabilities on Par 5s recently like Matt Jones (definitely someone to consider this week), but he’s a solid off-the-radar play given his T2G game and high ranking in Opportunities Gained (eight in the field). Varner is in my model’s top 25 and while he’s just 2-for-4 at Bay Hill, I could easily see him in the Top 20 on Sunday.

More value golfers to consider: Si Woo Kim, Branden Grace (GPP), Matt Jones, Corey Conners, Henrik Norlander, Zach Johnson, Erik van Rooyen, Brendan Steele  (GPP), Sebastian Munoz (GPP), Chez Reavie, Doug Ghim, Lucas Glover

Longshot Punts PGA DFS (DK $6,500 and under):

Cameron Percy (DK $6,500) –There’s no course history to speak of, but Percy is No. 33 in my model and makes for a solid GPP play in this price range. The biggest question marks are his putter and lack of experience at Bay Hill.

Kyle Stanley (DK $6,500) – Like Varner, I’m a little concerned about his ability o take advantage of the Par 5s here, as he ranks way down at No. 111 in the field in that category. But the rest of the game is golden, and he’s actually No. 24 in my overall model.

Additional punts: Tom Hoge (GPP), Sepp Straka (GPP), Doc Redman (GPP), Mark Hubbard (GPP)

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