When filling out a DraftKings lineup (use the promo code SGP), picking among the favorites is a fairly safe proposition. It’s when you have to choose between a pool of golfers down the line is where you make or break your chance to win big.
Here’s the critical decisions you’ll face as you fill out your lineup for the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational (values courtesy of DraftKings).
Golfers Valued $8,000-$8,900
- Tony Finau – $8,900
- Henrik Stenson – $8,800
- Byeong Hun An – $8,700
- Marc Leishman – $8,600
- Matthew Fitzpatrick – $8,500
- Collin Morikawa – $8,400
- Bubba Watson – $8,300
- Lee Westwood – $8,200
- Tyrrell Hatton – $8,100
- Billy Horschel – $8,000
- Vikor Hovland – $8,000
For the second tournament in a row, Byeong Hun An got off to a dreadful start before roaring back over his final three rounds to post a respectful finish. An had opening rounds at the WGC Mexico Championship and the Honda Classic of 75 and 76, respectively, before shooting a combined 19 under over his final six rounds combined in each tournament. In both instances his putter was largely responsible for the slow starts, but for the first time since the Sanderson Farms Championship he posted positive strokes gained putting at the Honda Classic. Can he replicate his success on another bermuda green surface? It should be noted that the last three times he posted positive strokes gained putting after a string of negative performances, he followed it up the next tournament with another positive performance. I like that trend and if he can match that up with his usual stellar ball striking it should yield another solid finish at Bay Hill.
Following his win at Torrey Pines Marc Leishman hasn’t had very good results on the leaderboard. He’s still putting up pretty decent ball striking numbers at the Genesis and WGC Mexico, but he negated that by losing six strokes on the greens across each tournament. Call it a hunch he reverses these bad putting performances on bermuda, which he typically has excelled on in his career. He also is a former winner at Bay Hill and has gained over a stroke and half per round across 36 career rounds. While I don’t think he can match his 2017 victory, I can see him on the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday.
After his victory at the Turkish Airlines Open last fall, Tyrrell Hatton said in his interview that he had been a little lost in his game due to some off the course issues. We don’t know exactly what those are but given his play last fall and early this year it seems like he’s back on track. After posting five Top 20 finishes in the fall (including his victory), Hatton played excellent at Club de Chapultepec with a T6 finish and gained 10.6 strokes on the field tee-to-green. Hatton has a good track record at Bay Hill and is set up for another solid finish.
Golfers Valued $7,500-$7,900
- Max Homa – $7,900
- Phil Mickelson – $7,900
- Abraham Ancer – $7,800
- Kevin Kisner – $7,800
- Scottie Scheffler – $7,700
- Wyndham Clark – $7,700
- Rafa Cabrera Bello – $7,600
- J.T. Poston – $7,600
- Ian Poulter – $7,600
- Brendan Steele – $7,500
- Joaquin Niemann – $7,500
- Charl Schwartzel – $7,500
Rafa Cabrera Bello got off to a rocky start to his PGA Tour season with a missed cut at Pebble Beach. At Riviera and Club de Chapultepec, however, he was much better. Cabrera Bello posted back to back Top 20 finishes and gained 5.6 strokes tee-to-green and 5.39 strokes putting across both tournaments. He’s heating up at the right time and comes into Bay Hill on the heels of last year’s T3 finish. A T3 finish might be a little optimistic but he should find a way to post another solid Top 20 finish and be useful for DFS lineups.
Ian Poulter quietly had a decent performance at the Honda Classic last week with a T27 finish, posting three rounds of 70 with only a 72 blemishing his result for the weekend. He posted positive strokes gained in all three tee-to-green categories as well as posted positive strokes gained putting on the week. This came off a pair of Top 20 finishes on the European Tour as well. Poulter has a good, not great, track record at Bay Hill in his career, gaining 0.6 strokes per round on the field across 48 career rounds. I don’t expect him to be highly owned in this group and he’s set himself nicely for another quiet but decent finish this weekend.
Joaquin Niemann is in a funk. Across his last three tournaments he’s lost 0.4 strokes tee-to-green to the field and has missed his last two cuts. Niemann is way too good of a ball striker to be this bad and I think a reversal of his fortunes is on tap. Bay Hill is a demanding golf course that places a premium on ball striking tee-to-green, and any regression to the mean with that should propel him to a return to the top half of the leaderboard on the weekend.
Bottom of the Barrel (Golfers <$7,500)
Maverick McNealy – $7,400: McNealy got off to a rough start to his PGA Tour rookie season, but he’s made eleven straight cuts with six Top 30 finishes. His ball striking numbers have also significantly improved, as he’s gained 13.6 strokes on the field tee-to-green over his last eleven ShotLink measured rounds. McNealy also competed at Bay Hill in 2016 and made the cut as an amateur, gaining about 0.6 strokes per round on the field tee-to-green. Another solid finish should be in order for him.
Sebastian Munoz – $6,900: This price is probably too low for Munoz. He’s posted five Top 30 finishes over his last eight starts and has gained over 13 strokes on the field tee-to-green across his last 15 ShotLink measured rounds. He’s never played Bay Hill before but given his solid form he should at least make the cut and offers Top 30 upside at a very low price.
Corey Conners – $6,900: Like Niemann, Corey Conners is too good of a ball striker to continue to post figures this mediocre. Across his last 16 rounds he’s gained a little over nine strokes on the field tee-to-green, which is normally pretty good for most middle of the road players. Unfortunately for Conners, he’s such a poor putter that anytime his ball striking numbers dips his performance on the leaderboard dips too. Call it a hunch he shows well at a golf course that demands great ball striking, and given he has typically putted much better on bermuda surfaces an average putting week out of him should yield a very good result for his price point.
Others to Consider: Bud Cauley ($7,400), Alex Noren ($7,300), Kevin Na ($7,300), Charles Howell III ($7,200), Carlos Ortiz ($7,100), Lanto Griffin ($6,800), Matthew NeSmith ($6,800), Danny Lee ($6,500)