Daily Fantasy Course Primer: Arnold Palmer Invitational

The Arnold Palmer Invitational hosts a terrific field this week. Find out everything you need to know about Bay Hill before you build your DFS lineups.

Bay Hill Club & Lodge is the host this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, another change to the schedule from prior years. Now the lead-in event to the PLAYERS Championship, the already strong API field gets a boost as the world's best hope to tune up for the even bigger purse next week.

As stated in the title, the event is an invitational and holds a smaller field than a normal PGA event. As of Sunday night, 133 golfers are committed to tee it up at Bay Hill, compared to 148 last week at the Honda Classic

Given the schedule and the volume of professional golfers who call Florida home, guys fresh off the Honda gain no special advantage this week for familiarity with the climate and grass types. Just about everyone who didn't play at PGA National was getting extra practice in at Bay Hill last week.

Similar to last week, water and sand abound throughout. Golfers contend with significant water hazards on eight holes, and every single fairway and green is defended by bunkers. The 7,419-yard par 72 track is susceptible to major swings throughout the day depending on how windy it is, so tee stacking is certainly a viable strategy this week. Right now conditions look fine, but keep an eye on the forecast as the week goes on.

Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.

Course and Tournament Info

Course: Bay Hill Club & Lodge
Par: 72
Distance: 7,419
Tees/Fairways/Rough: Bermudagrass overseeded with perennial ryegrass
Greens: TifEagle Bermudagrass

SeasonParYardageAverage ScoreAvg O/U ParRank

Guess which years the wind was blowing? Golfers who perform well in windy conditions are worth an extra look this week, and international players who are accustomed to those conditions have fared quite well at this event. The six golfers with the most strokes gained at Bay Hill over the last five years are all either European or Australian (more specifics below).

Success breeds success here. Each of the last five winners has had at least one top 25 at the event prior to claiming the trophy. Of the 12 golfers to finish inside the top 10 last year (6 golfers tied for 7th), 7 had a prior top 10 at this event and only 2 had never finished inside the top 25 (including Bryson DeChambeau, who finished T27 in his only other appearance). The 2017 leaderboard had a similar feel - 6 of the 11 finishers had at least a top 25 at a past edition.

All course history must be taken with at least some caution -- the guys who finished in the top 10 the last two years are some of the best in the world, and they have top 25s at almost every course in the rotation. That type of stuff comes with the territory in strong fields. But it is not an accident that 19 of the 22 golfers in the above sample are in the field again this week. Rory McIlroy and Marc Leishman, the last two winners, are counted twice because they finished top 10 in their non-winning year as well.

Key Stats

These stats have proven vital to success at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge.

Key Stats for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge
Strokes Gained: Approach
Strokes Gained: Par 5s
Birdies or Better Gained
Proximity Gained 200+ yards

Strokes gained: approach, and specifically proximity on approaches from 200 yards or further, will separate the wheat from the chaff this week. Five of the par 4s are at least 450 yards, and three of the par 5s are over 550 yards, meaning golfers' second shots will be with a long iron (at least) regardless of how far down the fairway they can bomb it. Each of the par 3s is at least 199 yards as well, so 11 of the 18 holes (61%) will force a long approach this week.

Even though approach takes the cake over off the tee once again this week, big hitters are still the priority because of how far the second shot will be. Leaving yourself 235 yards or 205 yards can make a world of difference.

In the same vein, par 5 efficiency will be essential. Golfers who succeed here, especially if the conditions are calm, will shoot well under par on the four par 5s. Unlike the last few events that have featured some short par 4s, Bay Hill is a beast of a course that yields no such ground. Taking advantage of the birdie opportunities is an absolute must this week, and the par 5s are the only holes with above a 20% birdie rate, and all are above 34%.

Not surprisingly, birdie makers get the slight nod over par-savers. Bogey avoidance and scrambling are important every week, and the names at the top of the daily fantasy pricing can do both at an elite level. But make the guys that can go low the priority this week, especially in the cheaper pricing tiers.

Course History Studs

Tiger Woods has eight wins in his career at this event and finished T5 here last year.

Euros rule here: McIlroy is the defending champ and had finished 4th, 27th, and 11th in the preceding seasons. Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose have finished in the top 15 six of the last seven editions, though each missed the cut in their off year. Besides the missed cut, Stenson otherwise has four top 5's in his last four tries. Francesco Molinari has made the cut in all six of his visits to Bay Hill and finished top 10 in three of them.

Aussies do too: Leishman was 7th in 2018, won in 2017, and was T17 in 2016, when Jason Day captured the trophy. In addition to that win, Day has finished inside the top 25 three other times in the last four years.

And finally, he has to be mentioned - Matt Every went back-to-back in 2014 and 2015, though he has two missed cuts and a T62 in his three tries since then.

Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.