Arnold Palmer is playing host to the PGA Tour this weekend, as he does every year at his course in Orlando, The Bay Hill Club & Lodge. The Arnold Palmer Invitational is the final stop in Florida for the PGA before it moves a little further up the east coast in anticipation of the year’s first major. This year, Florida has attracted a handful of the world’s top players and this weekend is no exception.
This weekend’s field is a strange one, with a lot of talent at the top, but at the same time, a good number of the second-tier talent you’re used to picking up is missing. This is going to make it feel like a steep drop-off that will make you want to scramble to afford at least one of the top five. But there are plenty of options, and no matter how good they are, I doubt the five most expensive guys in DFS end the weekend 1-5 on the leaderboard, so if you choose wisely, absolutely any strategy could work. You either need to hit on one or two of the cheap options that freed up your salary cap, or hit on two or three of the mid-level choices you built around – either way, good luck.
Henrik Stenson ($12,500) – He has finished fourth in each of the last two weekends, here in Florida, and to think that he represents an almost $3,000 savings over anyone makes it very clear just how difficult it would be to squeeze Rory into your lineup. And why? Stenson is on fire right now, and he has top-ten finishes in both of his last two appearances here as well (2013 & 2014).
Bubba Watson ($12,300) – He’s got the length to take advantage of this course, and while we didn’t see him last weekend, we did see him finish 3rd at the WCG-Cadillac earlier this month. If he brings anything like the kind of game that netted him a -7 that weekend, he’ll be worth every penny of his price tag.
Rickie Fowler ($9,900) – Might be going out on a limb a bit with this pick, but he showed signs two weeks ago at Doral, finishing at even par for a T12 despite a 77 on Friday. He has played well here before many times in the past, including a T3 in 2013, so you should expect him to avoid that kind of blow-up this weekend.
Keegan Bradley ($9,700) – He finished second here last year and T3 in 2013, so despite shaky performances the past two weeks, you should expect a bounce-back for a guy who doesn’t often go too long between top-20 performances.
J.B. Holmes ($8,900) – He has played here eight times, and has never missed a cut, so you know he likes the course, and with a second place finish at Doral, and top-25 performances in each of his last four, with at least fifteen birdies in each of those tourneys, he’s got the game right now to put up a big number.
Kevin Na ($8,800) – Top-ten finishes in each of the last two weeks, and a 66 last Sunday to push him into the top ten shows the kind of form that should enable him to perform well this weekend, on a course that has treated him well in the past (he finished T14 here last year).
Ian Poulter ($8,700) – He made the cut in each of his last three, finished in the top 25 at the Valspar Championship last weekend and T3 at the Honda Classic a few weeks back. He had fewer than ten bogeys in each of those two performances, including only five at the PGA National. That’s safe.
Francisco Molinari ($7,900) – He shot a -9 here last year in a showing that included a 67 on Thursday. He held onto a T5 despite a 73 on Sunday, so you just need to hope that if that round comes, it comes in the second half of the tourney, after you have secured him in your lineup past the cut.
Justin Thomas ($7,600) – He is only 21 years old, and sometimes, he is a little hit or miss. Consistency will come with experience, but the talent is obvious, as the rounds of 67 and 68 to bookend the Valspar Championship en route to a T10 last weekend clearly demonstrated. He is someone who could supply immense value in a GPP setting, but who you might not want to trust if you are looking for reliability.
Daniel Berger ($7,300) – Another young player, Berger missed the cut last weekend, but he had top-25 showings in each of the four tournaments prior to that, and even last weekend, only shot a 73-71. His game wasn’t that far off, he just wasn’t draining the putts to capitalize on his scoring chances, but he was still swinging the clubs well. He could easily turn that around this weekend and the Valspar Championship will be nothing but a blip on a stellar season so far, early in his career.
Daniel Summerhays ($6,500) – He shot a -4 last weekend to finish out at T10, and that was his second top-20 performances in as many weeks. He hasn’t missed a cut since the Phoenix Open back in January, and hasn’t had a single round over 74 since then either (and only two over 72). I think those two facts go hand in hand: he’s the kind of golfer who does’t make a ton of mistakes, which means that he could end up being a really good buy for you at $6,500. He could easily be doing a lot more to help you than hurt you, even if he doesn’t finish right near the top of the leaderboard. At the very least, he’s not the kind of pick to drag you down with it.
Matt Every ($5,200) – Hey, he did win here last year. And that Bubba Watson guy is expensive.