Arnold Palmer Invitational

Analysis and write-up provided by KendoVT. Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom to see each player’s tournament history.

Course Description

This week Tour Golfers head to Orlando, Florida for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Golf Club and Lodge. The field of only 120 golfers is very strong due to the fact that many want to pay respect to Arnie and this is the last marquee event before the Masters. Bay Hill is a 7,419 yard par 72 course with four par 3s and four par 5s. It has a good mixture of holes where bombing it off the tee will sometimes be an advantage and sometimes placing it in the right spot with a three wood or hybrid will be the right play. Off the tee golfers will face wide tree lined fairways with strategically placed bunkers on almost every tee shot and water in play on some holes. Even though the fairways are above average in width, there are many slopes and undulations so sometimes a good looking drive off the tee can still find the thickish rough. The greens are elevated on some holes, surrounded by bunkers and thick rough, are average in size, and have many slopes and runoff areas. The grass on the greens was recently changed to TifEagle bermudagrass and this will be the first tournament at Bay Hill using this new grass on the greens. This could play a big factor this week as new greens tend to play a lot firmer and faster during its first year in use. Also the weather could play a big part this weekend as rain and wind is in the forecast for this tournament. The course went through a dramatic change in 2010 so I will probably only be focusing on stats and history from 2010 and on. Also focusing on golfers that have played well in the Florida swing could be important this week. Almost all the golfers that have won this tournament since 2010 have finished Top 10 in some other course on the Florida swing prior to their victory at Bay Hill.

Looking at the course description above and trends for the course the last few years, a few key stats come to mind. I will be using these stats, current form, and course history to select golfers for my DraftKings lineups this week.

Key Stats For The Course
***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P) and Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G), which are key stats every week.

Par 4 Scoring (P4):
I know a lot of people will be focusing on par 5 scoring (P5) this week due to the fact that a lot of birdies and eagles will be made on the par 5s but I’m going with P4 as my most important stat this week. The par 5s on this course are some of the easiest ones on Tour. Everyone should have success on them as most are reachable in two by the majority of the field. The difficult par 4s are where the the tournament is going to be decided. Since 2010, 18/21 golfers that placed in the Top 3 at Bay Hill have finished inside the Top 70 in P4 for the specific year they finished Top 3. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to overlook par 5 scoring but I will have P4 weighted more heavily in my model.

Proximity from 200 yards plus (Prox200+):
All four par 3s are over 200 yards and since most golfers will be going for the green in two on par 5s, most all approaches on par 5s will be from 200 yards plus. That’s at least 8 approach shots a round coming from 200 yards plus. In the last few years, 36% of all approach shots at Bay Hill have come from over 200 yards. That’s almost two times more than from any other distance.

Scrambling (Scr):
Scrambling has always played an important part at Bay Hill. Since 2010, 15/21 golfers that finished inside the Top 3 were ranked 60th or better in Scr for that year. I think Scr will actually be more important than usual this year due to the new TifEagle Bermudagrass greens. As I stated before, new greens tend to be a lot firmer and faster in their first year of use. Golfers might not be used to this so I think more greens are going to be missed than in previous years.

Birdie or Better % (BoB%):
81% of the golfers that placed in the Top 3 since 2010 have finished inside the Top 58 in BoB% for that specific year. That’s enough for me to make BoB% an important stat.

High End Picks ($9000 and up)

Rory McIlroy ($12,000):
After a hiccup at the Honda Classic, Rory had the lead going into the final round at the WGC Cadillac Championship. He played poorly on Sunday to finish 3rd but you could see that his game was rounding into shape. He’s inside the Top 20 in every one of my key stats except Scr and finished 11th last year, which was his first time playing the course. I expect him to be near the top of the leaderboard again this week. (GPP and cash)

Henrik Stenson ($11,100):
Stenson loves this course. He has finished inside the Top 15 the last four years here, including a 2nd place finish last year and has never missed a cut at Bay Hill in seven tries. He’s one of the best ball strikers in the game and hits his long irons very well. His problem this year has been his putter. He could have easily been in contention for the win last week if he just putted average. If he can get his flat stick working this week, he has as good a chance as anyone in the field to win. (GPP and cash)

Jason Day ($10,800):
Jason Day at this price is just too hard to pass up. Even though he has had a slow start to the season, he is still one of the best golfers in the game. With all the great golfers up top he might get overlooked this week. (GPP only)

Justin Rose ($10,500):
Rose comes in as my #2 ranked golfer overall in my model right behind Adam Scott (even though I didn’t write about Scott this week, I like him. I just think he will be very highly owned and to reach value he needs to win or finish in the Top 3. Winning three weeks in a row is HARD so while I won’t be completely fading him, I won’t be using him too much). Rose is 10th in SG:T2G, 14th in BoB%, 63rd in P4, and 9th in P5. His Scr stats this year aren’t the best but he is exceptional out of the sand which could be helpful this week since there are over 100 bunkers on the course. He has finished as high as 2nd here since 2010 and I think he will be a staple in my cash lineup this week. (GPP and cash)

Ryan Moore ($9,800):
At first glance, $9,800 for Ryan Moore may seem overpriced but if you look deeper into his game this year, the price makes sense. He has made 6/7 cuts this year with FIVE Top 11s including a 3rd place finish last week at Copperhead. Stat wise, he looks great this week. He’s 18th in SG:T2G, 56th in BoB%, 10th in P4, 25th in Scr, and 35th in Prox200+. He honestly should have won last week but his putter let him down. He is 45th in SG:P this year so you know he’s not a bad putter and if he can have a similar tee to green game as last week he has a great chance to win. He is definitely my sleeper pick to get the W this week. (GPP only)

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Commentary based on DraftKings strategy and scoring.