What’s goin’ on fantasy golf fans?! Have you started to appreciate how lucky we are getting with the golf performances week in and week out? This season is off to a fire start and now Tiger is fully back, which adds another dimension to the current game none of us have ever experienced. Buckle up – this is going to be one hell of a 2018 season.
We turn the page on the Valspar Championship, but luckily we have another loaded field at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Hosted at Arnie’s course, Bay Hill, located near Orlando, Florida, we are treated to a field consisting of some of the biggest players in the game, yet again. Tiger, Rory, Day and Fowler are just a few notables teeing it up, as well as a solid group of Europeans, who are all here to prime themselves for Augusta.
Bay Hill has hosted this event for years, since 1974 to be exact. However, it was redesigned in 2009 limiting the relevant tournament history we can look back at. With trouble looming on nearly every hole, accuracy and hitting fairways will be crucial. Like the last few weeks, the big stick will be left in the bag more often than usual as golfers will want to keep their balls dry. Bay Hill is a 7,419 yard, Par 72, and with a lot of irons off the tee, it can play much longer. With that said, long iron play will be critical this week, for both accuracy off the tee and into these hard to hit greens. The majority of approach shots are from 200+ yards and hitting greens in regulation occurs less often at Bay Hill than an average tour event. Bay Hill also consists of four Par 5s where most of the week’s scoring will take place.
Stats for the Week
SG: Ball Striking
SG: Par 5s
2017 – Marc Leishman (-11)
2016 – Jason Day (-17)
2015 – Matt Every (-19)
2014 – Matt Every (-13)
2013 – Tiger Woods (-13)
Alright, let’s get to the picks!
My favorite golfers for the week – for Cash and GPP contests.
Tiger Woods – $10,000
Personal note – I have been only writing about fantasy golf for a couple of years now, and never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have the chance to consider Tiger Woods as the strongest play in an event. When Tiger first came back last year, he was an auto fade. Even early this season, there was so many question marks it was tough to roster him. But he is back – and I am all in. Tiger has won eight times at Bay Hill, EIGHT! He played extremely well at the Valspar, a course he has little familiarity with. Bay Hill will force Tiger to keep the driver in the bag, which is exactly what he needs right now. He is the betting favorite at 6/1, yet DraftKings has not priced him that way. I think some skepticism remains, which will keep his ownership in check a tiny bit.
Alexander Noren – $9,200
The price tag is too cheap for Alex Noren, who ranks 1st in my weighted stat model over the past 24 rounds. He has been super consistent this season, proving his success on the European Tour is far from a fluke. He hasn’t missed a cut on the PGA Tour since the U.S. Open. Noren has been consistently gaining strokes with his approach shots, leading to consistent top 15 results. He made the cut at Bay Hill last year in his first appearance at this event. I’d be shocked if Noren wasn’t in one of the last groups out on Sunday.
Adam Scott – $8,700
Adam Scott continues to impress after the golf world seemed to have deemed him as done late last year. He turned in another impressive tee to green performance at the Valspar, finishing 7th in SG:T2G. His putter, like usual, let him down at Copperhead where he gave up 3.4 strokes on the field. That is the obvious risk you take whenever Scott finds his way onto your roster. However, if his ball striking is back to a place where we expect Scott to be, the putter will show up on occasion and you have to take your shots with him. Scott has three made cuts at Arnie’s tournament, including a 3rd place finish in 2014.
Emiliano Grillo – $7,600
Grillo pops in all three areas this week – stats, current form and course history. He is as straight as them come off the tee on tour, and is great from 200 yard and out. Grillo has back-to-back top 10s, an 8th at the Honda Classic and a 6th last week at the Hero Indian Open. Grillo got out of the gates real quick last week before a 3rd round 78 derailed his title hopes. Regardless, he is still playing fantastic golf and Bay Hill suits his eye. He came T7 here last season after his T17 finish in his debut.
Kevin Chappell – $7,300
How Kevin Chappell is only $7,300 at Bay Hill is beyond me. Chappell is one of the best ball strikers in the field and ranks 3rd in my weighted stat model over the past 24 rounds. His elite long iron game as of late will be very important if he wants another top 5 finish like he had here in 2016, where he was the runner-up to Jason Day. Chappell has yet to miss a cut this season, something that cannot be said for the majority of golfers priced in this range. If his putter shows up for just this week, we just need ONE week, the reward for rostering Chappell will be very large.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Interactive Data
Note these tools are FREE each week for Pro Members. If you are not a Pro Member, use code “ERIC” for 15% off:
Identifying the chalk, and going elsewhere.
Rory McIlroy – $10,700
Is this Rory week? I have no clue, but at some point his game is going to click and it is better to be on him the week before the ownership piles on. Rory missed the cut at the Valspar and finished T59 at the Honda Classic. Two terrible performances by Rory’s standards and no one is lining up to roster him at $10,700. The positive from last week, if there is one, is that Rory gained strokes everywhere but the greens, where he lost 4.2 strokes. McIlroy finished T4 at Bay Hill last season and has made all three cuts in the past three years. At this point in the season, you either have to be overweight on Rory and accept the risk, or completely fade him. I have a hunch that this is the week.
Marc Leishman – $8,400
The defending champ is going untalked about. Leishman only has a single tag on FanShare Sports and the only reason for that is because his recent form is suspect. He came T37 in Mexico, missed the cut at Riviera and and was T31 at the Waste Management. Pretty average. What hasn’t been average is his putter, it has been worse. He has lost 3.4 strokes and 5.7 strokes in his last two events. That is great news for us, who are going to be overweight on Leishman in GPPs. He clearly has the game that can win at Bay Hill and is very affordable this week. Leish falls in a dead zone in the pricing so his ownership will likely hover in the 10% range.
Russell Knox – $7,600
Russell Knox doesn’t have a single tag on FanShare Sports, and is priced right beside the chalk of the $7K range, Emiliano Grillo. On paper, Knox has the game that fits this course. Accurate off the tee and exceptional with his irons. Over his past 24 rounds, Knox ranks 13 in SG: Par 5s and 7th in bogey avoidance, both stats will play a factor this week. Knox has made both cuts in his trips to Bay Hill, and enters the week coming off of a T16 at the Valspar.
Kyle Stanley – $7,200
Before his withdraw at the Valspar Championship, Stanley was going to be a target of mine because he ranked 3rd in the field in strokes gained approach at the WGC – Mexico Championship. And because we didn’t get to see Stanley last week, people have quickly forgotten about him. Priced at only $7,200, Stanley is a fantastic value option with greater winning potential than his peers in the same price range. He finished T17 at Bay Hill last year, a result he can easily replicate if his approach game remains on fire. There is some risk however, as he did withdraw last week for an undisclosed reason.
Bad course fit? Highly owned for the wrong reason? Players I will have no shares of.
Justin Rose – $11,500
This is the price I hate to see Justin Rose at. I want, we all want the $9,500 Rose who flies under the radar. It feels super weird to roster Rose, the second highest priced golfer this week at $11,500, and because of that gut instinct, I cannot do it. He was in the final group Sunday at the Valspar, but looking closer at his numbers for the week, he relied heavily on his putter, gaining 6.7 strokes – the best putting performance of his recorded career. I will gladly pass on the expensive version of Rose, pray he misses a couple of cuts so we can get back on him at Augusta.
Patrick Reed – $8,900
Patrick Reed sure did spend a lot of time on the TV last week, and the entire golfing world was watching. Reed, in his wannabe Tiger Sunday red, had a chance to force a playoff at the Valspar, but bogeyed the last in an ugly fashion to finish in a tie for second. Reed now see’s an insane $1,200 price jump in a field that is probably stronger than last week on paper. I don’t trust Reed on a course that demands strong long iron play and accuracy off the tee. He has not played this event since 2014, and has a T54 and missed cut on his resume.
Jason Kokrak – $8,000
Jason Kokrak’s course history is clearly baked into his price this week. $8,000 in a field of this strength is absurd for a golfer of his caliber. Granted, he is played solid, with four five straight cuts made and a T8 last week at the Valspar. However, there are so many better golfers in his price range, who are better fitted for this course with a greater pedigree. He has been doing most of his damage recently off the tee and around the greens, with his approach game being very average. Before you drop $8,000 on Kokrak, just remember that he only has five career top 5 finishes.
Scott Stallings – $7,700
Scott Stallings somehow is priced at $7,700 and will be owned like a goler who is way overpriced. He has three missed cuts here in the past five years, his only three trips to Bay Hill. Stallings has been playing better this season, but his five straight made cuts are trending in the opposite direction. I doubt you needed much reason to fade Stallings, but it is important to hammer home the idea that he is a poor play, with low upside at at high price.
So, you got burned?
Recently got screwed by a missed cut or a poor performance? Looks like a good time to jump back on.
Henrik Stenson – $9,100
Stenson’s missed cut last week while priced at $10,200 was not what people were looking for. Stenson lost strokes everywhere but off the tee. Chalk that up to some rust on North American soil. It was his first event Stateside in 2018, and now that he has that MC out of the way, he can focus on an event he has dominated at in the past. Typically, DraftKings takes course history into account when coming up with the prices, but they missed the boat on Stenson. Before last year’s missed cut at Bay Hill, Stenson had four straight top 10s, three of which were inside the top 5. His price is extremely affordable and his performance last week will those who don’t do much research off of him.
Byeong Hun An – $7,700
Benny An shaped up well for last week’s Valspar Championship, but missed the cut due to, surprisingly, his ball striking. He lost 2.1 strokes to the field on his approaches and somehow gained 1.3 on the green. What I do expect to turn around is his iron play. He now had three straight weeks of positive strokes gained on the greens and is one week removed from gaining over six on approach shots. No one is going to be rostering An this week. He is an un-sexy name at a higher than expected price, all while coming off of a missed cut. I smell a less than 5% owned top 10 in the making.
Matthew Fitzpatrick – $7,400
A Twitter darling to some, Matthew Fitzpatrick let down his cheering section in a big way last week. Copperhead seemed like a perfect fit for the accurate Fitzpatrick. However, his short game and putting were less than stellar on route to a missed cut. The thing is, Bay Hill is a lot like Copperhead, so we get another chance to roster Fitz at a course he fits (fun pun there). He lands in a crowded price range with some popular names likely to soak up all the ownership. Fitz could easily be a sub 5% owned golfer with the rare upside of finishing inside the top 5.
Thanks for reading the Arnold Palmer Invitational preview article! Follow me on Twitter for more DFS and golf betting talk! Also, don’t forget to check out FanShareSports.com to get a full look at who the DFS golf community is talking about this week!
Good luck this week everybody!!