The TOUR’s next stop will see it travel north of PGA National to just outside of Orlando for the Arnold Palmer Invitational (API) at Bay Hill Club and Lodge. The course will play as a par 72, measuring 7,454 yards and be putt on Bermuda greens again this week.
Bay Hill has hosted the tournament since 1979 with Arnold Palmer himself renovating the course back in 2009. The 2019 champion, Francesco Molinari will be defending his title this week and may need to draw heavily on his form from last year. He missed three cuts in a row before finishing just outside the top 50 at WGC-Mexico. The field is smaller with the tournament being an invitational. Those who got the invite include Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele, Bryson Dechambeau, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka. Some other notables in the tournament are a few of the TOUR’s next set of superstars, Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolf and Collin Morikawa.
Bay Hill Club and Lodge shouldn’t play as difficult as Honda did last week, but golfers will stay have their work cut out for them with API ranking ninth in difficulty in 2019 and 15th the year previous in scoring relative to par. All the Par 3s are between 200 to 225 yards with the easiest still averaging a score over par. There’s also four par 4s measuring between 450 to 500 yards, all of which play in the top 7 of difficulty in scoring relative to par. The course will play long where distance off-the-tee would help, but with so many doglegs, 84 bunkers and eight water hazards coming into play on nine holes, we’ll see accuracy prioritized over distance this week. This is also why more fairways are hit here over the TOUR average and why we see the vast majority of approach shots come from 200-plus yards away with golfers electing to take less-than driver when hitting their tee shots.
These are big greens so it’s not just greens in regulation, but overall proximity with long irons that will be important this week. Other key metrics to focus on when drafting lineups is Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green with the top-5 finishers gaining over twice as much strokes with their irons per round over other metrics like Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee. Even though the course has played tough we’ve seen winning scores averaging between 15 and 16 under par over the past five years with a lot of the scoring historically coming from birdies or better on the Par 5s. Lineups should also have golfers who are rolling it well on the greens this season, especially on these fast Bermuda greens.
Set your lineups here: PGA TOUR $600K Drive the Green [$150K to 1st]
Hideki Matsuyama ($10,600)Hideki’s ball-striking has been fantastic all season ranking second to only Xander Schauffele in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green over his past six tournaments. He also ranks just outside the top 20 in Par 5 efficiency and third in birdie or better gained over the same timeframe. Matsuyama has a top 5 and a top 6 in his past two events and hasn’t missed a cut here in his past six events. His putting needs to stay level this week and if it does he has a decent shot at contending, something he’s been doing over his past few events.
Tony Finau ($8,900)A 51st at the Genesis and not seeing Finau tee it up over the past couple of weeks will hopefully keep his ownership down, but we shouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t. Winners here in the past like Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Marc Leishman all are solid ball-strikers, Finau ranks seventh in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green over his past six tournaments and is just outside the top 15 in Strokes Gained: Putting over his past three tournaments on Bermuda greens.
Scottie Scheffler ($7,700)His irons haven’t been great, ranking 75th over his past six tournaments, but there’s a lot of early tournament buzz circling around Abraham Ancer with other Presidents Cup teammates like Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith, Adam Scott and Sungjae Im all winning this season. Ancer is a fine play for cash lineups, but pivoting to Scheffler in GPP tournaments should be the “game theory play” this week in this salary range. Scheffler has historically been a good iron player and will need to get it right this week, but should also rely on his ability to score. He ranks sixth in birdie or better percentage and 10th in Par 5 efficiency over his past six tournaments. He also ranks 32nd in approach proximity from 200-plus yards and is inside the top 20 in Par 3 efficiency between 200 to 225 yards. Scheffler also has had success on Bermuda greens, with three of his four top 10s coming on said putting surface.
Xinjun Zhang ($6,200)He hasn’t been playing the best of late, but he has done well on similar tracks to Bay Hill like Sheshan International GC for WGC-HSBC Champions and the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. He missed the cut last week at PGA National, but still gained strokes through approach and should be more comfortable playing in the Florida winds and putting on Bermuda greens with one week under his belt. His cheap pricing allows you to build your roster(s) in a myriad of ways as well as pick a couple of expensive golfers like Hideki and Rory in the same lineup.
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