2015 Arnold Palmer Invitational: Preview, Strategy and Picks
The Arnold Palmer Invitational is one of the best tournaments before the Masters. The field is strong, the course brings tremendous drama on the closing holes and a handshake with the King awaits.
It’s also particularly exciting for daily fantasy players given the details of the tournament. Before we get into those, our odds per dollar tab is updated. However, DraftKings did a good job with about 99 percent of the salaries. There is one aggressive play I like more for GPPs who will be in my sample lineup. More on this later.
Breaking Down the Arnold Palmer Invite and Bay Hill Club & Lodge
The champion of the event the last three years finished at 13-under. The latest renovations were back in 2009, so we should see a similar result this year.
Bay Hill rewards aggressive play and length with it playing at 7,419 yards and a par 72. For daily fantasy players, there are eagles to be had. While there aren’t any drivable par 4s, there are four par 5s. Here are the details of each one:
No. 4, 561 yards – One of the tougher holes to eagle despite being 561 yards. There is a slight up slope in front of the green with deep bunkers front left and front right of the green. You’ll need someone who bombs it off the tee in order to hit iron or a utility club into this green.
No. 6, 555 yards – The second easiest hole to eagle but can also make the biggest number. It’s a significant dogleg left with a lake along the left side the entire way. There have been 15 eagles here in the last three years, and most of those have been made by long hitters and aggressive players.
No. 12, 574 yards – Probably the toughest hole to eagle on the course with only eight given up in the last three years. It’s the longest hole, but there are also bunkers protecting the front of the green that prevents shorter hitters from running fairway wood shots onto the green. This is where players like J.B. Holmes are particularly valuable.
No. 16, 511 yards – By far the easiest to eagle. There have been 57 eagles here over the last three years. Anyone can reach the green in two. It’s a slight dogleg right, and there’s water in front of the green with some bunkers surrounding the green too. The only way a player doesn’t go for this is with a horrific tee shot.
With this information, we are after players who are high up on the lists of driving distance and birdie or better percentage. Finding guys who are playing well as of late is a bonus as well.
This lineup is built for GPPs, meaning there will be more risk. We want to use the balanced salary method because there is a cut, but GPPs can warrant slightly more aggressive play even with PGA.
Daniel Berger $7,300 – 14th in driving distance and 24th in birdie or better percentage. He has three top 10s this season including a second place at the Honda Classic.
Harris English $9,100 – My plug-in play. He’s 28th in driving distance and also has three top 10s on the year. Two of those top 10s are in the last four tournaments including a playoff loss at the Farmers Insurance Open.
J.B. Holmes $8,900 – My top play. Holmes is 11th in driving distance and sixth in birdie or better percentage. He has slightly good value on the odds per dollar tab, and his last four finishes are second, tied for 22nd, tied for 10th and tied for 2nd (same playoff loss as English at the Farmers).
Sung Joon Park $4,600 – Here’s my aggressive play as Park has great value on the odds per dollar tab. He’s made seven of 11 cuts on the year, but his missed cuts have typically been by just one or two shots. Last time I recommended Park was at the Honda Classic, and he finished tied for 31st, a fine finish for his price.
Henrik Stenson $12,500 – The best play straight up and my pick to win the tournament. Stenson is the second-most expensive player, but he’s substantially cheaper than Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson is a WD from the tournament (Nick Watney is also). Stenson’s last three PGA events are fourth, tied for fourth and a second. Four of Stenson’s last five tournaments on the European Tour are tied for 13th, tied for 13th, a win at the DP World Tour Championship and a third. While Stenson hasn’t played enough events on the PGA Tour to qualify for stats yet, he’s hitting it 300 yards off the tee this year and was eighth in birdie or better percentage last season.
Justin Thomas $7,600 – He’s 27th in driving distance and 15th in birdie or better percentage. Thomas also has four top 10s.View all posts by Nick Juskewycz