Just because last week's field wasn't loaded with the top of the talent pool on the PGA Tour doesn't mean it wasn't a fun watch. This week, though, we've got ourselves another designated event: the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
It's the final tuneup before THE PLAYERS next week at TPC Sawgrass.
With that in mind, let's dig into the course, the key stats, the win simulations, and the best bets of the week.
You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.
Bay Hill Club & Lodge Course Info & Key Stats
Distance: 7,466 (about 70 yards longer than the average par 72)
Fairway Width: 35.0 yards (53rd-narrowest of 80 qualified courses)
Average Green Size: 7,500 square feet (~125% of the PGA average)
Green Type: Bermuda
Past 5 Winning Scores: -5, -11, -4, -12, -18
Past 5 Cut Lines: +3, +2, +3, +1, +1
Key Stats (in Order of Importance): Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, Strokes Gained: Putting, Bogey Avoidance, Course History, Adjusted Strokes Gained
With a long par 72 awaiting, golfers will be tested right off of the tee box. datagolf shows an added importance on both driving distance and driving accuracy at Bay Hill, and that means that strokes gained: off the tee should be a key stat for us for this week.
It's very much worth noting that a high rate of the elevated yardage is comprised of long par 3s (averaging 210 yards). That leads to tough par 3 scoring. Overall, strokes gained: off the tee and approach (the two ball-striking stats) are the real separators here. The guys who can gain greens in regulation should be our targets.
It'll help to avoid rough, bunkers, and water, which are quite penal. That's partly why the winning scores tend to be low.
A tough overall test means the better golfers tend to separate. That's reflected in the course history.
Notably, the weather is going to be a problem. Wind gusts are going to make for tough conditions. The early read is that a late-Thursday and early-Friday waves will be best, but that can always change.
Golfers With Great Course/Event History
The best strokes gained averages among golfers who have played at least twice here over the past five years (a "-" indicates a did-not-play situation); results are listed from most recent to least recent:
- Rory McIlroy (+2.56): 13th, 10th, 5th, 6th, 1st
- Scottie Scheffler (+2.47): 1st, -, 15th, -, -
- Chris Kirk (+2.10): 5th, 8th, -, 15th, 13th,
- Sungjae Im (+2.02): 20th, 21st, 3rd, 3rd, -
- Matthew Fitzpatrick (+1.86): 9th, 10th, 9th, 2nd, MC
- Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+1.67): 20th, 7th, 18th, -, -
- Tyrrell Hatton (+1.56): 2nd, 21st, 1st, 29th, 69th
- Max Homa (+1.50): 17th, 10th, 24th, -, -
- Charley Hoffman (+1.42): -, 10th, 13th, MC, 14th
- Emiliano Grillo (+1.30): -, 21st, WD, -, 26th
- Corey Conners (+1.25): 11th, 3rd, MC, MC, -
Win Simulations for the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their golf betting odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets for the Arnold Palmer Invitational
The model doesn't see value on any of them in particular.
We do see value (via the model) on some guys in the next tier: Xander Schauffele (+2400), Tony Finau (+2800), and Patrick Cantlay (+2400). The field itself resembles a major setup, and seeing the favorites a bit overvalued with some value on the next tier makes sense as a result.
I don't like long shots for an event this loaded, and we tend to see the best of the best win.
I'll add in top-10 and top-20 bets once odds are posted.
Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for the Arnold Palmer Invitational
All stats cited below originate at datagolf and reference ranks relative to the field over the past 50 rounds. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. References to my combo model refer to a combination of long-term, field-adjusted form, key stat performance, and hole-by-hole-level strokes gained data.
Best of the Best
Jon Rahm (FanDuel Salary: $12,200 | Golf betting odds: +700) - I have been on Team Rory over Team Rahm recently due to game theory and recency bias, and it might be the wrong week to move away from McIlroy at a course where he has been so good, but it's hard to discount Rahm at all. He finished 17th here last year, he ranks 4th in strokes gained: tee to green, and he is 1st in strokes gained: putting. That's enough to make his salary justified.
Tony Finau ($10,800 | +2800) - Finau hasn't had a storied history at Bay Hill. In his lone start over the past five seasons, he missed the cut in 2020 (despite ranking second in the field in strokes gained: approach per round). The putter was just bottom-three in the field over those two rounds. Other than that, he's been T28, T43, and cut at Bay Hill. Lately, he's a new golfer and ranks third in strokes gained: tee to green and eighth in strokes gained: putting.
Others to Consider:
Rory McIlroy ($11,900 | +950) - Dominates at Bay Hill; 1st in T2G and 30th in putting.
Patrick Cantlay ($10,700 | +2800) - Probably the most under-salaried stud; 3rd at Genesis to prove he's still in form.
Matthew Fitzpatrick ($10,300 | +3600) - Very good form at Bay Hill (four straight top-10s); 23rd in distance and a great short game.
Tom Kim ($9,800 | +5000) - Tom Kim doesn't seem like the most ideal fit for Bay Hill because he's shorter-than-average off the tee. However, he's got top-five iron play and isn't so short that he can't contend. Plus, his elite accuracy (fifth-best) can keep him out of the rough and in play off the tee, which is a viable strategy -- especially with the irons being so damn good.
Tommy Fleetwood ($9,600 | +7000) - Fleetwood has found success at Bay Hill in the way of four top-26 finishes over the past five years and a top-10 the year before that. He enters with pretty sound form despite middling results (T38, T59, cut, T20 in 2023), and he ranks 15th in approach and in tee-to-green play over the past 50 rounds.
Others to Consider:
Cameron Young ($10,000 | +4600) - Right game to succeed here (3rd in distance) and 13th here last year.
Corey Conners ($9,500 | +7000) - Top-11 in both OTT and APP; 11th and 3rd here the past two years, as well.
Keegan Bradley ($9,500 | +7500) - 25th in approach and 34th off the tee; consecutive top-11s at Bay Hill.
Tom Hoge ($9,000 | +12000) - Hoge leads this field -- yes, this field -- in strokes gained: approach over the past 50 rounds, and that's with field-strength adjustments, according to datagolf. Where he struggles is off the tee (74th) and around the green (100th). That being said, he's still 30th in accuracy, and with the larger greens, he could find himself near the top of the board in greens in regulation by the end of the week. He's finished 26th, 15th, cut, and 32nd at Bay Hill over the past five years in his four starts.
Brian Harman ($8,600 | +17000) - The bottom falls out in this field pretty quickly, and so balance is very appealing. But Harman ranks top-37 in both off-the-tee and approach strokes gained to sit 28th overall in ball-striking. He's not long (96th) but is accurate (22nd). Though that hasn't led to much recent success at Bay Hill, he has three top-20s in his career at the course. With the form he's in now, he's a pretty viable value play.
Others to Consider:
Aaron Wise ($8,900 | +12000) - From a favorite to a value last week to this one; T17 here last year and 2nd in T2G in it.
Patrick Rodgers ($8,400 | +21000) - Doing a lot of work with the wedges but is six-for-seven with made cuts at Bay Hill.