This weekly article is going to breakdown past performances by players at the course the tour is visiting for the week. Specifically we will be looking at who has had success at a given course, who hasn’t, and what sorts of statistics or trends you should pay close attention to when making your fantasy golf rosters on DraftKings. This article is more about alerting you to certain trends and giving you the tools to succeed than simply recommending certain plays.
This week the PGA Tour heads to Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. This is an Invitational tournament which means the field is only 120 players and only the top 70 players from last year’s money list are guaranteed invites. The cut rules remain the same but many of the top players are here, including all three of the top players in the world: Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Henrik Stenson. It’s a safe bet to expect many quality players will be in the mix.
Par 72, 7,419 yards
The course features large Bermuda greens which are generally very fast. There are over 80 bunkers on the course and water is in-play on half the holes, including being very prominent on the finishing 3. There have been some minor alterations the past year, but nothing that should change the course dramatically.
Bay Hill is still an all-encompassing test, there is no hiding place for a player who is slightly off his game.
Last Five Winners
1) Matt Every
2) Tiger Woods
3) Tiger Woods
4) Martin Laird
5) Ernie Els
What Will it Take to succeed at The Arnold Palmer Invitational?
As stated above, winning this tournament will truly take an all-round effort. A good long game will definitely help but only if you can keep it out of the rough and the water, both of which feature prominently here. The players also must be able to take advantage of the par 5’s given the harsh conditions.
Who has had success here?
A wide variety of players. Unlike other weeks where you can often narrow down the field to a specific group of players (ie accurate drivers) this week features a variety of different styles that have had success. Kevin Na, a short hitter with a great short game, seems to absolutely love an all-around test of golf and has played very well here in the past. His last 5 visits include a T2 and a T4. Conversely, Justin Rose who loves tough US Open style courses has also played very well here recording a T2 and a T3 here in the past three years. Keegan Bradley, a big hitter has played extremely well at Bay Hill in the past two years, finishing runner-up last year. Henrik Stenson, a very solid ball striker who sometimes struggles on the green has improved here the each of the past 4 years going 47-15-8-5 in finishing position.
Who has struggled here?
Again, there’s no real trend or specific type of player who has typically struggled here. Jason Day is well known as one of the best all-round talents in the game today but has not posted any significant results at Bay Hill, with his best being a T25. Webb Simpson has been playing very well lately but has missed the cut here twice in his last three visits with only a T37 in between. Hunter Mahan is a great ball-striker but he’s never really had much success here either. He has one 6th place finish, but that was back in 2008. Since 2011 Mahan hasn’t broken the top 20.
What statistics are important?
Strokes gained tee-to-green and Birdie Average/Scoring average. Quite simply the players need to be able to make solid shots off the tee and from the fairway to stay out of trouble, and they need to be able to score well. The par 5’s are vital to winning this week as many of the past winners here have been at the top of par 5 scoring for the week. Players need to be hitting it well, but they will also have to take advantage of birdie opportunities when they arise.
Look for players who are playing well coming into the event. This is such a great course that a player who is struggling will likely find it difficult to overcome a deficiency this week. Course history can also be important, but remember there’s no one style of player to really pinpoint.
My Pick to Win: Paul Casey
Casey has been extremely solid in the past 5 weeks or so. He’s been hitting a ton of greens in regulation, which should keep him out of trouble, and can score well on the par 5’s. He ranks high in birdie average, strokes gained tee-to-green and par 5 scoring average on the year. I think his game is firing on all-cylinders right now and that is what it will take to win, he’s my pick.