Yahoo DFS Golf: Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks and Strategy
Arnold Palmer Invitational
Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge - Par 72 - 7,466 yards
Field - 120 entrants
Purse - $20M
Chris Kirk and Eric Cole provided enough drama this past Sunday at The Honda Classic to overcome an otherwise underwhelming leaderboard full of no-names, but we're treated to a stacked field this week at the PGA Tour's fourth designated event of 2023 as Arnie's place once again plays host to the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Although it stretches to nearly 7,500 yards, Bay Hill doesn't always reward driving distance as much as it might appear on paper. Thick rough surrounds these fairways, placing a greater emphasis on accuracy off the tee as long irons often find the hands of those who take their medicine. Each of the four par-3s measure at least 199 yards, which is another reason nearly 50 percent of approach shots figure to come from 175-plus yards out this week. Any preliminary research would've led you to the narrative of harsh winds and a heat wave in Orlando, just adding to Bay Hill's already strenuous difficulty level.
Per usual, it'll be key to take advantage of the scorable par-5s, and maybe get a bit lucky with a PM/AM tee-time split as Friday afternoon looks especially blustery.
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2022 - Scottie Scheffler
2021 - Bryson DeChambeau
2020 - Tyrrell Hatton
2019 - Francesco Molinari
2018 - Rory McIlroy
2017 - Marc Leishman
2016 - Jason Day
2015 - Matt Every
2014 - Matt Every
2013 - Tiger Woods
Key Stats to Victory
Proximity: 175-plus yards
Yahoo Value Picks
Based on $200 salary cap
Jon Rahm - $47
Although one is the ultimate horse for the course and the other is the defending champ, it's still bizarre to see Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler priced above Rahm after the Spaniard began his 2023 calendar year with three wins in five appearances. Given McIlroy's popularity here at Bay Hill, Rahm avoiding an inflated $50-plus salary could help create a more even distribution in rostership across this trio of super elites, but the latter is simply the most dominant player in the world right now and we don't have to pay any sort of insane premium to go back to him on the heels of an impressive victory at Riviera CC.
Will Zalatoris - $42
Steamed all the way up to around 18/1 as an outright bet this week, Zalatoris' proven ability to perform well on tough tracks against strong competition has piqued the market's interest. The 26-year-old looked healthy in his most recent outing at The Genesis Invitational while gaining strokes across the board en route to a fourth-place finish. His putting stroke might not be all that attractive from in close, but Zalatoris has actually gained an average of 1.9 shots per tournament with the flat stick across his last five starts.
Collin Morikawa - $41
Tiger Woods won multiple editions of the API when losing strokes off the tee at Bay Hill, carried instead by his untouchable iron play and a hot putter at Bay Hill. No living human is ever likely to overtake Tiger as the best iron player of all time, but Morikawa is certainly a favorite in the current conversation, and although the flat stick can be a weakness at times, he's shown that he's capable of spike weeks with the putter as well. Morikawa joins the aforementioned Rahm as the only two players to rank top-10 in both Prox: 175-200 and Prox: 200-plus over their last 36 measured rounds, but Morikawa also sits No. 2 in driving accuracy within this sample size.
Tyrrell Hatton - $35
The Englishman has placed fourth or better in half of his six career API appearances, notably securing his only PGA Tour win here in 2020 at just four-under-par. Hatton gained a combined 6.3 strokes off the tee across his two starts in February at the WM Phoenix Open and The Genesis Invitational. Examining his past 36 rounds, Hatton ranks top-20 in P4: 450-500 Efficiency, scrambling and bogey avoidance.
Jason Day - $35
Another past champion at Arnie's place, Day more recently has ridden a scorching-hot putter to four consecutive top-20 finishes, including three straight top-10s since the Farmers Insurance Open. Not only is he second to none in both SG: Putting and three-putt avoidance over his last 24 rounds, however, he's also top-15 in SG: Off-the-Tee, P3: 200-225 Efficiency and P4: 450-500 Efficiency. Most of our DFS competitors would agree that this feels like a promising spot for Day's resurgence to continue, so don't expect to fly under the radar if you lean into this selection.
Keith Mitchell - $30
Mitchell also carries great chalk potential at just $30, but he's one of the best drivers of the golf ball in the game right now, and he's coming off a top-5 performance at Riviera where he paced the field in SG: Around-the-Green while ranking third in SG: OTT. Cashmere Keith has yet to miss a cut in four trips to Bay Hill, posting back-to-back top-6s in his first two attempts here. Comparatively speaking, Mitchell loves his bermuda greens.
Gary Woodland - $24
Only one player in this week's field ranks top-10 in both SG: OTT and SG: APP over their last 24 measured rounds, and you guessed, it's Woodland. He's also No. 1 in Prox: 200-plus and seventh in P3: 200-225 Efficiency during this span, guiding him to three straight made cuts despite losing a collective 12.2 strokes putting from the Farmers Insurance Open through a top-10 result at The Genesis Invitational. Scrambling is a concern if the putter remains ice cold, but Woodland's ball-striking upside is rare to find in the mid-$20s. He tied for fifth here last year when the flat stick cooperated.
Taylor Pendrith - $24
The Pendrith breakout is pending, but he's made four consecutive cuts and he sits top-two in Prox: 175-200 and P4: 450-500 over his last 24 rounds. Pendrith tied for 42nd in his Bay Hill debut this past year despite losing 2.5 strokes on the greens, though he matched champion Scheffler atop the par-5 scoring chart while also ranking third in driving distance.
Wyndham Clark - $20
Clark is definitely a bit under-priced at the minimum salary thanks to a lousy track record across two previous API showings, but his irons have improved significantly this season as he ranks top-25 in both SG: Approach and Prox: 200-plus over his last 24 rounds. Clark's power off the tee makes him a valuable DFS option, especially from a par-5 scoring perspective, though he's also gained strokes around the green in five of his past six starts and he hasn't missed a single cut since the Shriners Children's Open in early October.