For those who missed it, please check out the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational Preview and Betting Strategies for the types of golfers you should look to target, as well as our DFS picks for the event.
With that in mind, here’s who I like this week at the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational (with odds courtesy of MyBookie.ag):
Pre-Tournament Futures Odds (With Top 10 Prop Odds)
Tommy Fleetwood – 14/1 (+160): Going back to the well for a guy coming off a blown 54 hole lead is a perilous proposition. For many players it’s a giant caution sign to stay away. But for Fleetwood he’s shown nice bounce backs in the weeks after close calls in his career. Following his 2nd place finish at the 2019 Open Championship to Shane Lowry he came back the next week with a T4 finish at the WGC FedEx St. Jude Classic. In this tournament last year he was one shot off the lead heading into Sunday only to finish T3. The next tournament was the Players Championship where he was one shot off the lead after 54 holes only to falter to a T5 finish.
While in neither case he could seal the deal, he at least put himself in position for a bounce back win. Fleetwood hits all the right notes of a player that should play well at Bay Hill, and in his career he’s done exactly that by gaining 2.2 strokes per round on the field across 12 career rounds. Some people are shying away from him, but I’m not.
Bryson DeChambeau – 16/1 (+175): Speaking of coming back to the well on a guy off a close call, let’s go back to Le Artiste himself. He should have won the WGC Mexico Championship but made a few costly mistakes with his approach shots down the stretch that handed Patrick Reed the win. But his much talked about and publicized body transformation has vaulted him into the conversation of one of the best players off the tee on the PGA Tour. Bryson has gained over 15 shots off the tee in his first 12 ShotLink measured rounds this season, and has matched that with great putting and iron play to give him very good finishes on the leaderboard. Bryson has played well at Bay Hill in the past, and as long as he keeps up these numbers a win is in his near future.
Tony Finau – 33/1 (+300): He’s going to get a win at some point, and the time to get him at this price will come to an end. Despite his historical results at Bay Hill, in theory he should be the type of player to excel there. Longer players can get a huge edge off the tee at Bay Hill and with generously wide fairways there’s plenty of room for him to operate. The weather forecast also looks like it could see some moderate to heavy winds during the tournament, and throughout his career he’s about 0.4 strokes better in windy conditions than his normal baseline strokes gained performance. He’s going to fall into a win sooner rather than later, and this could be the week.
Henrik Stenson – 40/1 (+400): Stenson has yet to play on the PGA Tour in the calendar year 2020, but he has one of the best track records at Bay Hill of anyone in the field. Over 42 career rounds he’s gained 2.15 strokes on the field at Bay Hill with five Top 10’s in his last seven appearances. He didn’t make much noise playing over on the European Tour so far this year, but he proved he was capable of winning when he won the Hero World Challenge back in December. Yes, it was only against 17 other players, but when you can beat guys like Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed, Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas you definitely have it in you to win a full field event. Like Finau he’s an excellent player in windy conditions because he has such control over his irons, and he stands a great chance to finally climb the mountain and conquer Bay Hill.
Others to Consider (With Top 20 Prop Odds)
- Tyrrell Hatton – 55/1 (+225) & Rafa Cabrera Bello – 60/1 (+225): Hatton and Cabrera Bello were featured in the DFS column this week, and for all the reasons I liked them there I can see each emerging as a dark horse winner.
- Lee Westwood – 60/1 (+250): This pick is more with my heart than with my head. I have concerns about how Westwood has been getting by mostly with his putter the last two tournaments, and anyone who has followed his career closely in his career knows that’s always been his kryptonite. I have this gnawing feeling he’s going to put up another good performance at Bay Hill to try and shove it in the face of Paul Azinger, who on the broadcast last week poo-poo’d the European Tour and anyone who’s had success over there. By now the readers have probably picked up a theme of how high I am on the European players this week, as I can see one of them having extra motivation to win for the European Tour players this week. He’s one of those guys I can see doing just that.
- Alex Noren – 140/1 (+450): Noren showed flashes of his old self early in the season, but his last two tournaments his ball striking has regressed. Where Noren has had the most success on the PGA Tour is on the Florida swing and on less than driver golf courses like PGA National, Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass. Given he has shown glimpses of great ball striking this year, he’s a deep longshot candidate for a surprise victory.
Other Props and Matchups
Hideki Matsuyama Top 10 – +200: Let me first start out by saying this – I love Hideki this week. Given the golf course set up and the expected windy conditions he’s one of the most ideal players I can think of to have success this week. The problem, however, is I just don’t trust his putter to go all in on a victory. But a Top 10 bet? Sure, I can absolutely buy into that.
Brooks Koepka Top 20 – +125: It’s been ugly for Koepka since last year’s Tour Championship. A knee injury hampered him throughout the fall, he had a fairly lackluster performance over on the Middle East swing on the European Tour, and he’s been pretty bad in his first two PGA Tour events. But I’m willing to back a Top 20 finish this week at Bay Hill mostly out of faith and his overall reputation on the PGA Tour in his career. He has the reputation of only caring about big events and the majors, and uses regular events as tune-ups. While I can’t stand the PGA Tour’s attempts to make the Players Championship a major and jam the marketing behind it down our throats, I think that’s a tournament he feels would mean something to his legacy if he won. If that’s the case, then he should be locked in to at least post a Top 15 finish at Bay Hill to get himself ready to go all in next week at TPC Sawgrass. Betting with your heart in golf is never advisable, but for a player like Koepka I think this is a good spot to do it.
Lee Westwood -130 over Phil Mickelson: The reasons why I like Westwood this week are above. As for Phil, you can’t fake your way around Bay Hill and that’s all that Phil has been doing for the better part of a year. Sure he finished 3rd at both the Saudi Open and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but overall he’s been an abject disaster both off the tee and with his approach shots and has been saving himself with his scrambling. That’s not going to cut it this week at Bay Hill, and Westwood should do enough to best him one on one.
Rafa Cabrera Bello -115 over Brendan Steele: My affection for Cabrera Bello is well documented this week. As for Brendan Steele, while I can give a player like Tommy Fleetwood the benefit of a doubt after coming off a close call, I can’t afford the same leniency to Brendan Steele. The last time we saw him have a close call was the Sony Open, where he lost in a playoff to Cameron Smith. The following week he lost four strokes to the field tee-to-green at the American Express to a mediocre T43 finish against a much weaker field and a much easier golf course than Bay Hill is. Steele doesn’t really profile as a guy who fits Bay Hill, and Cabrera Bello should beat him one on one.