Rickie Fowler

The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.

Set your lineups here: PGA TOUR $600K Drive the Green [$150K to 1st]

The Field

This is the fourth time the Arnold Palmer Invitational will be played since the namesake’s death and we are once again getting quite a good field to celebrate his contributions to the game. Tiger Woods and his amazing eight wins will be not be in the field (out – stiff back), but the likes of Rory McIlroy (2018 winner), Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood will all be in attendance. Outside of those big names, we also have past champions like Marc Leishman (2017), Jason Day (2016) and “the Butcher of Bay Hill®” Matt Every, who won here in back-to-back years in 2014 and 2015. Due to its invitational status, the field this week maxes out at around 125 players and will be the final warmup event before THE PLAYERS next week, the first “major” event of the year. Despite the slightly reduced field, the cut procedure remains the same this week with the top 65 players and ties making it to the weekend.

The Course

Bay Hill — Orlando, Fla.
Par 72, 7,400-7,500 yards

This course has hosted this event since inception, but has undergone major renovations over the lifespan of this event. The course used to play as a Par 70 between 2007 and 2009, but reverted back to a Par 72 in 2010 and remains that way today. After 2014, fairways were widened in spots, with some overgrown rough and trees removed, making driving conditions a touch easier on certain holes. New Bermuda greens were also added. Overall the winner of this event has only exceeded 12-under-par once, so this venue still has some teeth especially when the wind gets up, which it may this week (see below for forecast).

As mentioned above, Bay Hill features Bermuda greens, and as a traditional Par 72 also features four Par 5s — none of which play longer than 570 yards. As such, these holes will yield a ton of birdies or better and most of the past winners here have tended to dominate these holes during the week. While players will be able to score on the Par 5s, Bay Hill does carry some challenges along the way, including three Par 3s which measure in at 215 yards or longer. Players will also be challenged by the longer Par 4 finishing hole, which requires an accurate drive off the tee and a steady hand on the approach to a semi-island green.

All in all, expect Bay Hill to yield some birdies, but also expect players who hit poor shots to be penalized … severely. There are over 70 bunkers on the course and water is in play on half the holes. It’s seen a quaint mix of winners and top-finishers the past few years too, as shorter hitters like Matt Every, Francesco Molinari have performed well here, but bigger hitters like Jason Day and Rory McIlroy — who entered with sharp putters and short games — have also found success. This is a venue which requires a good all-around game and rewards aggressiveness, but can punish those who push their luck too far.

2020 Weather: While there’s nothing terrible on the horizon as far as weather goes this week, expect wind to play a role in keeping scoring down here. Gusts are expected to reach up to 20 mph on Thursday afternoon and there does exist the possibility of a wave advantage for early starters. The wind doesn’t look like it will die down after the opening day either, as gusts around 15 mph are expected to be prevalent for the remaining three days. Thursday is the day to keep an eye on though as winds could easily shift and there’s also the possibility of some rain late in the day. Regardless of format you’re playing on DraftKings, make sure to check the forecast again before locking in lineups on Wednesday.

Last Five winners

2019—Francesco Molinari -12 (over Matthew Fitzpatrick -10)
2018—Rory McIlroy -18 (over Bryson DeChambeau -15)
2017—Marc Leishman -11 (over Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman -10)
2016—Jason Day -17 (over Kevin Chappell -16)
2015—Matt Every -19 (over Henrik Stenson -18)

Winning Trends

– Four of the past five winners of this event all had recorded a top 5 finish at Bay Hill in a previous year before winning (exception: Day ’16, previous best here was T17).
– The past nine winners of this event had all played the API at Bay Hill the year prior and made the cut.
– Eight of the past 10 winners of the API finished the year ranked 54th or better in Par 5 scoring in the year of their victory (exception Every ’15 and Molinari ‘19).

Statistics



2019: Francesco Molinari

SG: Off the Tee—1st

SG: Approach—34th

SG: Tee to Green—13th

SG: Putting—4th

Driving Distance—36th

Scrambling—5th
2018: Rory McIlroy

SG: Off the Tee—31st

SG: Approach—13th

SG: Tee to Green—7th

SG: Putting—1st

Driving Distance—1st

Scrambling—1st
2017: Marc Leishman

SG: Off the Tee—32nd

SG: Approach—10th

SG: Tee to Green—13th

SG: Putting—2nd

Driving Distance—26th

Scrambling—16th
This event has seen several different styles of golfers compete and win, so it’s hard to favor one metric completely over another. Driving Distance is helpful (as it is every week), but consistency off the tee is likely almost as important as length this week as thicker rough is often a feature here and OB/water comes into play on several holes off the tee.

Realistically, players will need a good all-around effort with their ball-striking and around the green games. While no one area sticks out among past winners, none of the past three champions here have ranked outside the top 15 in SG: TTG stats for the week of their win.

What we have seen is that each of the past three winners have made up for slightly shaky ball striking with huge weeks on the greens. Each of the past three winners at Bay Hill have ranked inside the top 5 in SG: Putting for the week of their wins, and each of the past six winners have ranked eighth or better in this stat. Utilizing Bermuda putting splits and emphasizing players with solid recent form with the putter may be helpful this week.

Finding Values

Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.


Player Odds DraftKings Price Comparable
Tony Finau +3500 $8,900 –      Jason Day $9,100 and +3500

–      Justin Rose $9,000 and +4500

–      Rickie Fowler $9,300 and +3500
Collin Morikawa +4500 $8,400 –      Byeong Hun An $8,700 and +4500

–      Marc Leishman $8,600 and +5500

–      Matthew Fitzpatrick $8,500 and +5500
 

HORSES FOR COURSES

1. Rory McIlroy (best finishes: win-2018, T4-2017): There’s clearly something about Bay Hill that suits Rory’s eye of late, as the Northern Irishman comes into this year’s version flashing finishes of T6-win-T4 here over the past three seasons. He’s yet to miss the cut here in five starts and deserves lead horse status given where his game is at right now.

2. Henrik Stenson (best finishes: T2-2015, T3-2016): Stenson nearly won this tournament in 2015 and followed that up with an impressive third place in 2016. His results on his past nine visits to Bay Hill read as 52-47-15-8-5-2-3-MC-4-T11. Despite his lack of play in 2020, he remains a lead horse this week in DFS.

3. Justin Rose (best finishes: T2-2013, T3-2018): Rose has never won this week’s event, but he’s been close multiple times, recording three top 5s here since 2010. Rose has finished outside the top 15 here just once in his past eight visits and will be looking for a quick bounce back after a poor MC last week.

4. Keegan Bradley (best finishes: T2-2014, T3-2013): Bradley has recorded two top-five finishes at Bay Hill since 2013 and has now made the cut at this event in seven straight years. Coming in off of two MCs in a row, it’s possible his game finds some life this week at one of his favorite venues.

5. Marc Leishman (best finish: win-2017): Leishman won this event back in 2017 but has also posted finishes of T7 (2018) and T3 (2011) at Bay Hill, which clearly suits his strong all-around game. The Australian has finished inside the top 25 here now in four straight appearances.

DFS STRATEGY

Cash Games: Bryson a solid upper-tier value

DeChambeau ($10,400) enters as the fourth-most expensive player on the slate this week, but that price should probably be looked at as fair considering both his overall form and course history. Bryson likely should have won here in 2018 and has been close to claiming victory in his past two starts in 2020. Underneath him there’s a lot of question marks this week, but the history of Marc Leishman ($8,600) and Henrik Stenson ($8,800) make them look like solid values, with Leishman also bringing in good recent form. The $7K range has some solid names too, with recent form suggesting that the likes of Harris English ($7,400), Maverick McNealy ($7,300), Scott Piercy ($7,300) and Carlos Ortiz ($7,100) will all make good targets.

Tournaments: Fowler and Bubba two wildcards with upside for GPPs

Fowler ($9,300) enters this week off a missed cut and a couple other suspect starts, but did show positive signs in his second round last week. He’s got a good record at Bay Hill and often will show up at one of the Florida stops with a good finish. Watson ($8,300) had an up and down week in Mexico in his last start, but has been solid for the most part in 2020. Like Fowler, he’s done well at Bay Hill before and hasn’t missed the cut here in his past six starts. Lower down, Kevin Kisner ($7,800) played well in his last start and nearly won at Bay Hill in 2017, while Bud Cauley ($7,400) has also been picking up some steam of late and has a T4 at Bay Hill from 2012. Other potential GPP targets here include Danny Willet ($6,800), Beau Hossler ($6,600) and Patrick Rodgers (see below).

Recent Form

1. Bryson DeChambeau: Bryson is coming in off two consecutive top-5 finishes, including taking runner-up honors in Mexico in his last start. DeChambeau ranked sixth in SG: Tee to Green and third in SG: Putting in his last start.

2. Tommy Fleetwood: Fleetwood took the heartbreaking loss last week at the Honda Classic. He’s coming into this week having nabbed two top-5 finishes over his past four starts and looks very much like a player ready to break through soon.

3. Rory McIlroy: McIlroy has looked very close to putting together a big win so far in 2020, but hasn’t gotten over the hump yet. He has three straight top-5 finishes now on the PGA Tour and will go for his second API title this week.

4. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama is yet another top player in this field who looks on the verge of breaking through. He’s now finished T6-T5 in his past two starts and was second in the field in SG: Tee to Green stats in Mexico.

5. Maverick McNealy: McNealy has put together a solid stretch of golf to start 2020 and deserves a shout out. The rookie has made five cuts in a row and finished T11-T27-T5 in his past three starts. He ranked ninth in SG: TTG stats last week.

MY PICK: Rickie Fowler ($9,300)

The sentiment is low on Fowler entering this week, but I think there’s a good chance we see some fight from Rickie here. The now 25th-ranked player in the world had a terrible first round at the Honda, but fought back on Friday to post a 68 and just miss out on the weekend by a stroke. That Friday round was marked by him gaining over two strokes on approaches and 2.4 strokes with his putter, both of which were season highs for him in a single round. Fowler’s rarely gone through the Florida stretch with multiple bad finishes, posting wins at both PGA National and TPC Sawgrass in the past, and his record at Bay Hill suggests he may eventually find the winner’s circle here too. Rickie recorded a career-best T3 finish at the API back in 2013 and has finished inside the top 15 here in two of the past three seasons. Fowler had huge respect for the King and there’s zero doubt he’d love to add this trophy to his case. After an encouraging bounce back Friday at the Honda, I’d look for him to hit the ground running this week and compete for his first API title.

MY SLEEPER: Patrick Rodgers ($6,600)

This week will mark the ninth start in a row for Rodgers, and while that kind of insane schedule often leads to burnout — and eventual capitulation on the course — Rodgers has actually shown improved ball-striking over the past few weeks. The former Stanford star gained strokes on Approaches in all four of his rounds at PGA National last week and also ranked a solid T20 for GIR in his second-to-last start in Puerto Rico. He enters this week having finished T35 or better in five of his past six starts and might be reaching a consistent enough space with his ball-striking to begin really competing on the weekend. Rodgers has also made the cut at Bay Hill in three of his past four starts here and posted a T7 finish back in 2018, off the back of a great week with the putter. He makes for a nice upside target this week in DFS as he looks for a breakthrough week to cap off his busy opening stretch of play.


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