The PGA TOUR remains in Florida this week for the 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, which is held at Bay Hill (par 72, 7,454 yards) in Orlando. Tyrrell Hatton edged out Marc Leishman by two strokes a year ago, finishing at only four under par. This is the worst winning number posted at Bay Hill since 1983 and it was all due to some extreme winds in Orlando that week. As of Monday night, the weather for this year’s edition of the Arnold Palmer Invitational looks rather ideal, with no high winds projected for any of the four days and Saturday being the only day with some rain in the forecast. Prior to Hatton’s victory, the average winning score at Bay Hill was 15.4 strokes under par for the five previous seasons, and we can safely expect the winner to approach 20 strokes under par this time around.
This par 72 is a classic Florida style course with plenty of water and sand to worry about. Distance isn’t overly important and most of these golfers will club down off the tee, in an effort to give themselves at better look at these greens. In other words, Bay Hill is a second shot course and we should mostly be focusing on elite iron players this week. Hatton ranked 2nd in SG APP and 9th in GIR here last season, and six of the past ten golfers to record a win at the Arnold Palmer have finished inside the top-ten in GIR during their victories. With Bay Hill being a par 72, there a four par fives on site, which rank as the four easiest holes on the scorecard. Taking advantage of these holes is obviously important, but scoring on the par fours has been more crucial at this track. Over the last decade, nine of the ten golfers to leave Orlando with the big check have ranked inside the top-ten in SG on the par fours at Bay Hill.
The greens here are Bermuda grass and you have to be an above average putter to climb the leaderboard at this venue. In fact, eight of the last ten Arnold Palmer Invitational champions have ended the week in the top-eight in SGP, with Rory McIlroy leading his field in 2018 and Tiger Woods also doing so in 2013. This week is one of the rare occasions that I believe we should be putting a heavy weight on putting stats when choosing our golfers.
As an invitational, this will be a smaller field of only 125 players. Still, there will be a top-65 and ties cut line following the second round, meaning that a higher percentage than usual will be proceeding to the weekend. This makes it an ideal week to build more stars and scrubs DraftKings lineups, and below I present to you four of my favorite targets at $7,400 or lower for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Adam Hadwin, $7,400
With a bigger emphasis on putting this week, Hadwin has to be considered at only $7,400. His flat stick is arguably the best club in his bag and over his last 12 rounds, the Canadian ranks 9th in SGP. His T26 at the Genesis Invitational was Hadwin’s fourth made cut in a row and he has been competing on the weekend in eight of his past ten appearances on Bermuda grass.
Additionally, the 33-year-old has a spotless 3/3 record at Bay Hill, most notably with a T6 in 2017. If Hadwin can combine some decent ball striking with his excellent work on the greens, a top-25 is certainly obtainable for him this week. Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that Hadwin has only seen a DraftKings main GPP ownership of 4.9% over his past five starts, and he should come with a single-digit ownership yet again.
Zach Johnson, $6,900
Johnson is way underpriced for his consistency. He has only missed one cut in his past 15 starts, with six top-25s over this time. Johnson has produced positive strokes when approaching the green at seven of his last ten events, and he ranks 25th in total strokes gained across his last 50 rounds on par 72s that sport Bermuda greens.
As for his track record at Bay Hill, the two-time major champion is 16 for 17 in made cuts, including seven top-30s. Via DraftKings Sportsbook, Johnson’s -225 odds to make the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational are the best of all the golfers who cost less than $7,000 for DFS purposes this week.
Matthew NeSmith, $6,900
NeSmith has been outstanding and him being this cheap is honestly inexcusable. He has made four consecutive cuts and has finished T7, T16 and T20 in his past three. If we compare the last 12 rounds of all of these golfers, the 27-year-old ranks 3rd in SG APP, 3rd in SGT2G, 3rd in GIR and 15th in SG on par fours. For his career, NeSmith possesses positive splits on Bermuda and he just carded a T7 at the Phoenix Open, which was the last time he teed it up at a course with this green type.
Regardless of price, not many players in this field are striking it as well as NeSmith right now, and his missed cut at Bay Hill last season in his course debut is irrelevant considering his current form.
Sebastian Munoz, $6,700
At the WGC-Workday Championship, Munoz had a stellar week striking the ball. During this T22 finish, which was his fourth made cut in his past five tournaments, the 28-year-old ranked T2 in GIR and 7th in SG APP. The 4.8 SGT2G and 4.9 SG APP he collected at Concession are the most Munoz has generated in six starts and his top putting splits come on Bermuda grass. In his last seven starts at courses that feature this type of green, Munoz has recorded four top-25s.
He missed the weekend in his first attempt at Bay Hill last season, but Munoz is a far better player now and we can’t let this stop us from attacking him at this cheap of a price. He is currently the 59th ranked player in the world, but the 66th highest priced golfer on DraftKings this week.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Hunta512) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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