The TOUR is back at Arnie’s Place, but the defending champion isn’t. Quite why Bryson DeChambeau is not playing at the moment is a difficult question to answer. The man himself attributes it to an injury which forced his withdrawal from the Saudi International and has prevented any action thereafter. But, since the Ryder Cup, he has only played at the Hero Challenge and in two events in 2022. In other words, this no-show business has been going on longer than just in the short term. It’s a pity because DeChambeau’s big-hitting was not only a feature but a highlight of the 2021 tournament, specifically when he took aim at parts of the par-5 sixth fairway which no-one previously had ever considered to be in range from the tee-box. Moreover, he hit those areas too.
Last Time Out
Yet another first time winner in a year in which the maidens have dominated. Chapeau to anyone who had Austria’s Sepp Straka in their line-up. Solid returns from the three picks we were most enthusiastic about last week. Keith Mitchell reignited the flames at the scene of his one PGA TOUR win, while Denny McCarthy and Lucas Glover landed top 30s. We also gave everyone a nudge about the solid Florida form of top 10 finsisher, and value play, Lee Hodges.
Here’s are some entirely FREE suggestions for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|A list||S. Im||$9,900|
Sungjae Im ($9,9000): A rare missed cut for the Korean last week and you can bet that he has been busting his ass ever since to ensure no repeat. Prefer to note that before that weekend off he was 18-for-19 (there were three no cut events in that spell). Last week was also not only just a second missed cut in 12 Florida starts, but also just the third time he didn’t finish top 30. His course form is neat too: twice T–3 and T–21 last year.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,700) Time to champion the South African cut-making machine again. He’s missed just two weekends since October 2020 which equates to a run of 34-for-36 (with four no cut events). This 2021/22 PGA TOUR season alone he is 7-for-9 with four top 25s including last week in the Honda Classic. He’s also made a promising start with his event record: T–18 in 2020, T–7 last year.
Viktor Hovland ($10,800) Sure, based on world rankings and form, Hovland deserves to be a big salary. But big risks come attached. He’s played the tournament three times and has a best finish of just T–40, in his last three weekend laps he failed to break 77, he’s never gained strokes on the greens, and his Tee to Green numbers have gotten worse each year. Then there is the short game. The last four winners here all ranked top 10 for Scrambling. Hovland is better around the greens these days, but he still struggles.
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Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge
Originally designed by Dick Wilson in the early 1960s, the club was purchased by Palmer a decade later and he spent the rest of his life creating his perception of the perfect golfing venue. A key element of that is a design principle that he utilised in all his course creations, either first hand or second hand via his team of architects: He liked to reward aggressive drivers of the ball. That makes perfect sense when you recall that he relished pulling the driver when in action himself.
The course was once just a touch over 7,000 yards, but Palmer saw to it that the tee boxes were stretched back to allow for a 7,466-yard challenge. When Tiger Woods dominated (he won no less than eight times) he was simply sensational on the par-5s and going low on these holes will boost any card. But it is equally, if not more, important for careful consideration on the short holes. Each of the last eight winners ranked top six on the par-3s with all of them under-par for the week. They rank as the toughest collection of par-3s on the schedule.
Jason Kokrak says of the challenge: “You don’t have to hit a lot of drivers here, you can if you would like to, but you (tend to) hit a lot of long irons off the tees. That makes the fairways a little bit bigger, easier to hit. I’m a high-ball hitter, so I think being able to hit it higher into the greens and stop it in some spots that some other guys can’t help.” Good long iron play will help on the par-3s, from the tee on the par-4s and with approaches on the par-5s this week.
Justin Rose adds: “There’s really no way to fake it around Bay Hill. The rough’s pretty thick. Generally the greens are quite firm which requires pretty pinpoint iron shots. There’s enough trouble out there that mentally it’s a challenge. You have to really commit to your shots. There’s a lot of intimidating looking golf shots out there on this golf course.”
That further speaks to the importance of long irons, to the tough test, and also to the fact that course knowledge is a big help.
The weather forecast for Orlando, Florida can be split into two neat sections this week. Pre-cut it will be cloudy with temperatures in the low 70s and the wind little more than a breeze (about 9mph). It won’t change massively at the weekend, but there will be a subtle change. It will become sunnier and warmer (high 70s), but that breeze will be blusterier (about 15mph) and come from the south.
Past Winners of The Arnold Palmer Invitational
We’ll stick to the 21st century and two very distinct trends in the names of the winners. Number one is utterly straightforward: Tiger Woods. He won the first four tournaments of the new century, then went back-to-back in both 2007-08 and 2012-13.
The second pattern is one of foreign raiders. Since 2006, in fact, you could argue that internationals have dominated here with nine wins in 16 events. Aussies have fared well. Rod Pampling won in 2006, Jason Day 10 years later and Marc Leishman followed him onto the honor’s board in 2017. Vijay Singh triumphed in 2007 and Ernie Els claimed a second career win in 2010.
Europeans have also thrived here. Often times they have simply landed impressive top fives, but Martin Laird won in 2011, Rory McIlroy in 2018, Francesco Molinari in 2019 and Tyrrell Hatton in 2020.
Perhaps the oddest element among all of this is that there have been very few American winners other than Woods, but the man who won it twice would never have been guessed by anyone. Step forward Matt Every who confounded the form book by not only winning in 2014, but successfully defending the title a year later. Chad Campbell won in 2004, Kenny Perry in 2005 and then DeChambeau ended that run of five consecutive international wins 12 months ago.
This is a week when course form is well worth considering. No less than nine of the last 10 winners had finished top five prior to lifting the trophy. Don’t overlook those words of Kokrak. High quality long irons are a huge asset here, needed on the par-3s, often from the tee on the par-4s, and with approaches on the par-5s. Par-3 scoring matters: Good performers here tend to have dropped hints by having good weeks on the short holes in the past.
Here’s A Line-up of Core Picks For The Arnold Palmer Invitational
|A list||M. Leishman||$9,100|
|B list||J. Kokrak||$8,400|
|B list||K. Mitchell||$8,100|
|Deep dive||C. Ortiz||$6,900|
Marc Leishman ($9,900) “It’s a course I love,” the Aussie has said of Bay Hill and he has three top three finishes, including a win in 2017 to prove it. He added: “You need your game in a good spot and you’ve got to be mentally strong.” The first element of that is covered by a current run of 16-for-17 which includes a 2021/22 season record which takes in nine cuts made, all of them top 40s and seven top 30s. Remember how important par-3s are? He ranks first for Par-3 Scoring this season.
Jason Kokrak ($8,400) Last week we extensively quoted Keith Mitchell’s analysis of how to play PGA National ahead of him recording a strong finish and maybe Kokrak can repeat that. We’ve already read why he believes he is a good fit and his record speaks for itself: he’s 7-for-9, with six top 20s, four of them top 10s. He’s made the cut in each of his last six starts, including a win at the Houston Open. In fact, he has three wins in his last 33 starts. Four in 34 were you to count the QBE Shootout, a dubious inclusion except that he looked hungry and confident chasing down the W.
Keith Mitchell ($8,100) Mitchell performed well for us last week and there seems little reason to take the chips off the table. He’s now recorded five top 12 finishes in his last six starts and is 8-for-9 heading a bit further back. He’s also 3-for-3 at Bay Hill and finished T–6 and T–5 in his first two visits. It is further possible that he will be motivated this week by seeing his old college mate Sepp Straka win the Honda Classic – he was there at the end to cheerlead.
Luke List ($7,500) This looks like an abslutely outstanding salary. List’s win at the Farmers Insurance Open was a sixth top 25 in eight starts and he backed it up with a 66 to make the cut after a dodgy start in the Phoenix Open. A missed cut at Riviera followed, but some hangover might be expected. This week might be when the form re-emerges. He’s not just 4-for-4 at Bay Hill, he’s registered three top 20s in that tally.
Ian Poulter ($7,100) The Englishman has already posted on social media this week that the six inch gap between the ears is the most important tool this week and that preparedness of the mind bodes well. As Leishman pointed out, this is a tough test and Poulter has passed it frequently. It took some learning (he was 1-for-5 after the 2009 tournament) but he is 11-for-11 since with seven top 30s. He’s also made four of his last six cuts, including a tidy top 30 last week.
Carlos Ortiz ($6,900) Mitchell was there for Straka last week and Ortiz was the first to congratulate his mate Joaquin Niemann in L.A. Can he be inspired? He’s on a run of 6-for-7 so the salary looks very fair based on that. It looks even better when you consider that he has two top 30s from three course visits – and he was top 20 for Strokes Gained Approach both times which hints that the test suits.
Other Player Options For The Arnold Palmer Invitational
• Andrew Putnam has played four rounds of golf in eight of his last 10 starts and now returns to the scene of his T–4 last year.
• Europeans have been known to perform well here on debut. Graeme McDowell, Edoardo Molinari and Matt Wallace were all a little obscure to PGA TOUR observers when finishing top six at the first time of asking. Aaron Rai has the mindset and long game to add to that list.
• Keegan Bradley hasn’t missed an API cut since his debut in 2011. Straight after that he was twice in the top three and he was also T–10 last year. He arrives on a run of 6-for-7.
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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