Welcome back everyone. Alex, here and I am back with my DraftKings PGA Sleeper Picks for The 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational. I am coming off one of my most successful weeks of the season last week at The Valspar. Steve Stricker got off to bad a start and couldn’t fight back enough to make the cut, but Nick Watney was solid with a T14, and Adam Hadwin was terrific winning the event and picking up his first PGA Tour win, finishing at -14 for the week. It was great to have one of my main picks win the event, so let’s try to keep the streak going at this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. This tournament has taken place at Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Floridia since 1979. Jason Day took down this event last season shooting -17 edging out Kevin Chappell by a stroke. It is fair to expect low scores again this week, with the average winning score being -15 over the last five seasons.
Bay Hill is par 72 that is 7,419 yards long. The course is home to four par fives and four par threes. Just like last week at Copperhead, the par fives will be the golfers best chances to score, while the par threes are on the longer side all measuring over 199 yards. Being accurate off the tee isn’t a huge deal with wide fairways on most holes, but approaching the green is very important with all these greens surround by bunkers and eight of them having water hazards. Golfers need to be especially strong with their longer irons this week, with 33.9% of the fields approach shots coming from over 200 yards the last 11 years. (via Fantasy Golf Metrics) Also with so many bunkers, it makes sense to find players who rank well in strokes gained around the green and in scrambling. I think bombers can definitely have an advantage on some of these longer holes, but I think it’s more of a luxury than a necessity. Lastly we need to target good putters, especially on Bermuda greens if possible, with the last three winners having a low average putts per round of 27.1.
After looking at everything, the main stats I will be looking for this week are strokes gained tee to green, strokes gained approaching the green, greens in regulation percentage, par five scoring, strokes gained putting, strokes gained around the green, scrambling, and birdie or better percentage. This is the first time this event has been held since Palmer died last September, so we have a pretty strong field of golfers playing this week to honor the legend. Also there only 120 golfers in the field vs the usual 140. A normal cut line is in effect with the top 70 and ties moving on to the weekend, but with a smaller number of golfers playing, around 58% of the players will make the cut. The main focus is still to get 6/6 through the cut, but with more players making the cut than usual, it makes sense to try to fit in multiple high end players who have a shot of wining. Also if you want more picks for The API, check out Geoff’s DraftKings picks through this link and Keegan’s betting picks that will be posted soon. As always if any of these picks help you or if you need any advice let me know on Twitter. @Hunta512.
If you want help with PGA research for DraftKings check out the best fantasy tools out there at FantasyLabs.com
Wesley Bryan: (7,100) I’m not saying he is going to win, but just like last week with Hadwin, there is no way Bryan should be this cheap with the year he is having. After hitting a rough patch in January, the YouTube sensation has proved to the golf world that he is a complete player, making four straight cuts, with three consecutive top ten finishes. He has never competed here at Bay Hill, but statistically he should fare well on this track, ranking 40th in strokes gained tee to green, 27th in strokes gained approaching the green, 21st in strokes gained around the green, 145th in GIR percentage (65.7%), 63rd in strokes gained putting, 53rd in approach shots from over 200 yards, 45th in scrambling, 86th in par five scoring, and 70th in birdie or better percentage.
He has been even better with his putter in his last four events, with an average putts per round of 27.6, compared to his 28.2 average for the entire season. This is a great sign for him, with three of these events having been played on courses that feature Bermuda type greens, just like the greens he will see this week. He also has been a beast on par fives during this stretch, shooting an average of 6.3 strokes under par on par fives per tournament. His $7,100 price tag doesn’t in anyway reflect his current form and Vegas agrees, with him currently having 50/1 odds to the win the event, which is the 13th best odds in the field this week. Even though it is his first time on this course, I am expecting him to make the cut with top 20 upside this weekend. I know he may end up being a popular play (13-16% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs), but at this price there is no way you can overlook Bryan, and he is a core play for me in all formats this week.
Lucas Glover: (6,700) Glover missed the cut at The Safeway Open to start the season, but he has been on a roll ever since, making eight straight cuts, finishing no worse than T41, with four top 25s, two top tens, and one 3rd place finish at The Shriners Open. He has looked much better season, ranking 15th in strokes gained tee to green, 29th in strokes gained approaching the green, 92nd in strokes gained around the green, 51st in driving distance, 10th in GIR percentage (73.6%), 32nd in approach shots from over 200 yards, 33rd in par five scoring, and 31st in birdie or better percentage.
He also has made 5/7 cuts here at Bayhill with three top 20s, and a T27 last season. His one weakness has always been his putting (111th in strokes gained putting this season), but the rest of his game is in such good form that I think he will survive and make the cut on these Bermuda greens he is familiar with.
Martin Kaymer: (7,400) Kaymer’s price tag is just crazy for a player of his caliber. The 44th ranked player in the world is 3/3 in made cuts this season, with two top 25s, and a T4 at The Honda Classic. Not only has he been good form so far this season, but he has been extremely consistent in the long run, not missing a cut since last March at The 2016 Valspar Championship. He doesn’t rank on The Tour yet this season, but in his last 36 events, he has posted a high average GIR percentage 70.4% and an average drive of 290 yards.
Even though it has only been three tournaments, he has improved on the greens this year, with a 28.7 average putts per round, compared to his 29.6 putts per round average in the 2016 season. He has only played here at Bayhill once, missing the cut back 2008, but this was a long time ago, and Kaymer is a world class player who is in great current form. Regardless of what his ownership level ends up being (13-16% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs), Kaymer is an absolute steal at $7,400, and is a strong play in both cash games and GPPs.
Also Consider: Ollie Schniderjans, Russell Henley, Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Webb Simpson, Beyong–Hun An, Charles Howell (14/16 here, and has now made ten straight cuts, great value at only $6,900), Anirban Lahiri, and Billy Horschel.