Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: Arnold Palmer Invitational
The PGA Tour heads to Bay Hill Club & Lodge this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational just outside Orlando, FL. With last year's schedule change, Arnie's event is now the precursor to THE PLAYERS Championship, and with many of the game's top players skipping the Honda Classic, we'll get a few more names making their bermuda season debut this week before next week's high profile (and high payday) event.
Last year, Francesco Molinari charged from way back to post a number that ultimately held up despite the best efforts of Matthew Fitzpatrick, Sungjae Im, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, and Tommy Fleetwood. The International vibe extended throughout the top 10, including Rory McIlroy, Sung Kang, Matt Wallace, and Byeong-Hun An. Bay Hill is a tough test, especially these last few years, and we should be looking for streaky players who can get hot even in difficult conditions.
Keep in mind this event is an invitational, so the field will be pared down from last week and there are no Monday qualifiers. The field as of this writing is just 120 golfers, so even under the new tighter cut rules, more than half the field will see the weekend.
This 7,454-yard par 72 that features water hazards throughout and bunkers guarding every fairway and green. Much like PGA National, danger lurks on just about every hole. We won't expect quite as many big numbers as last week, but Bay Hill has some teeth to it, especially if the wind picks up as it's expected to on Thursday. Some thunderstorms are also in the forecast as well, and wave stacking could be an essential element of lineup building this week.
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
Distance: 7,454 yards
Fairways/Rough: Bermudagrass overseeded with perennial ryegrass
Greens: TifEagle Bermudagrass
|Season||Par||Yardage||Average Score||Avg O/U Par||Rank|
Bay Hill played as the second hardest par 72 course last year, behind only Sheshan International. Molinari actually lost strokes on the par 5s and was outside the top 30 in strokes gained: approach, a testament to how otherworldly his putting was last year. He got to 12-under par last year, and Fitzpatrick was the only other golfer to crack double digits under par at 10-under.
Many of the early season courses in California and Florida feature heavily tree-lined fairways, but Bay Hill is a bit more open. Not to say that's any better -- many courses keep the rough trimmed to keep the trees in play, but Bay Hill is content to grow out even the first cut. It's no surprise then that golfers struggle to find the green in regulation, and the course had the fifth-lowest GIR percentage on Tour last year. Proximity coming out of the rough is a good barometer for how difficult it is to find the green after an errant tee shot, and Bay Hill ranks among the five or six longest remaining distance every single year.
We mentioned Bay Hill as a comp to PGA National last week, but it bears repeating that the early season bermuda takes some getting used to. Those who played the Honda don't necessarily get an advantage, as most who skipped the event were practicing at Bay Hill anyway. But golfers who have success at one course, are well suited for the other. Fleetwood and Im were in contention here last year, and both played a role in the endgame this weekend. Keeping with the Florida/bermuda line, TPC Sawgrass pops as a comp for hard-to-hit greens and class at the top of the leaderboard. Also correlating well is the layout at East Lake Golf Club, though the small field at the TOUR Championship beckons caution in relying too much there.
These stats will be the keys to success in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge.
|Key Stats for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Birdies or Better Gained|
|Greens in Regulation Gained|
|Strokes Gained: Par 5s|
|Proximity Gained: 200+ Yards|
With so much attention on getting to the green and converting opportunities, these key stats all make sense. Hitting greens and knocking it close, especially from long distance (i.e. on par 5s) lead to birdie and eagle putts. Driving is important every week, but Molinari -- not exactly a bomber -- led the field in strokes gained: off the tee last year and McIlroy -- arguably the best driver alive -- was 35th off the tee when he won in 2018.
The winner has ridden a top 10 putting performance each of the past few years, but good luck trying to figure out which guy is going to pull that out. A hot putter will work just about every week, but we pick up some putting inherent in the birdies or better and par 5s stats and don't need to isolate putting or bermuda splits.
All four par 3s are over 200 yards, and according to stats from Fantasy National Golf Club, approach shots come from beyond 200 yards on a plurality of holes at Bay Hill.
Course History Studs
McIlroy won here in 2018 after going absolutely bonkers on the greens, but it was far from an outlier as he's played here each of the past five seasons and finished T6, WIN, T4, T27, and T11.
Henrik Stenson has played here 10 consecutive years with just one missed cut in 2017. He's finished inside the top 20 seven times, including four top 5s.
Molinari came from way back on Sunday to steal the tournament, notably draining a 44-foot putt on the 72nd hole to cap off a bogey-free 64. He'd had success in prior editions, having played each of the six seasons before his win with finishes of T26, T7, T9, T17, T5, and T34.
Marc Leishman is another annual visitor to Bay Hill. He won in 2017 and has four other top 25s over the past 10 years.
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.