This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Arnold Palmer Invitational
Course: Bay Hill Club and Lodge (7,454 yards, par 72)
Winner: $1,674,000 and 500 FedExCup points
The second leg of the Florida Swing brings us to one of the biggest tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule. The House that Arnold Palmer built, Bay Hill Club and Lodge features a few of the most iconic holes in golf including the horseshoe par-5 6th hole and the infamous par-4 18th hole. A number of those memories on Bay Hill's 18th hole have been courtesy of Tiger Woods. He has owned this course with a record eight wins. Unfortunately, we will not see him this week as he battles a stiff back and preps to presumably get ready for next week's PLAYERS Championship. It still will be a terrific field in Orlando with Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele, Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, and Phil Mickelson among the notables. Conditions will be difficult this week with dry and firm greens along with winds that will regularly push 20 mph.
Key Stats to Victory
Bay Hill will test every aspect of a player's game, and even more so this week given the windy and dry forecast. The greens usually exceed 13 on the Stimpmeter, which make it one of the fastest on Tour. It starts from the tee. Length will always be an advantage, but accuracy should take precedent this week, especially given the firm conditions. It will be nearly impossible to stop approach shots below the hole out of this rough. Even when you do hit fairways putting the ball close to the hole here is not easy. Last year Bay Hill had the third-highest proximity to the hole of any course. The elite iron players will have room to separate from the field, which is why Tiger Woods has been so successful through the years here. Keeping bogeys off the card will be important on this difficult course. Much like last week at PGA National, I place value in players who rank well in scrambling and/or SG: Around-the-green. Experienced players should have the advantage on these bermuda greens which feature a lot of subtle nuances for this type of surface. With how slick the greens will be, three-putt avoidance will also be fairly critical. You're going to have the total package this week.
FanDuel Value Picks
Rory McIlroy, ($12,200)
Speaking of total package, world No. 1 is the clear favorite in this stellar field. He has finished inside the top-five in each of his last six starts worldwide. While McIlroy has to be annoyed he has only one win in that stretch, the Northern Irishman will never let you down. He ranks first in SG: Total and first in scoring average this season. The icing on the cake is that he has gone T4-Win-T6 the last three years at Bay Hill.
Tommy Fleetwood, ($11,800)
Another consistently great player with the total package, Fleetwood is coming off a solo third last week at PGA National. In his last 19 starts, the Englishman has seven top-five finishes and 16 top-25's. Fleetwood ranks fifth in SG: Total this season, which includes being eighth in both SG: Tee-to-green and GIR percentage. He has already taken fondly to Bay Hill with two top-10's in three starts. Fleetwood's T3 last year even included a third-round 76.
Marc Leishman, ($10,400)
The Aussie is just the 15th highest priced player this week on a course where he has been as good as anyone over the last decade. Leishman owns three top-seven finishes at Bay Hill, which includes his victory back in 2017. He has not finished worse than a T23 each of the last four years. Leishman ranks fourth in SG: Approach this season.
Byeong-Hun An, ($10,300)
An's T4 last week at PGA National put him back into the top 50 in the OWGR, which is critical with the Masters coming up. He is a player on the rise with five top-15's in his last eight starts. An is a strong ball striker who also has the length to take advantage of four gettable par-5's. He also ranks sixth in SG: Around-the-green after leading that stat last season. An is trending at Bay Hill with a pair of top-15s the last two years.
Longer Shots with Value
Ryan Moore, ($9,100)
Moore has posted three top-15's in seven starts this season. He comes to Bay Hill where he has been solid throughout his career, notching a pair of top-five's, including a T5 in 2018. Moore has also made eight of his last nine cuts in Orlando. He is always a threat for courses like Bay Hill where your ball striking needs to be top tier. Moore has finished inside the top-25 on Tour in driving accuracy and SG: Approach in each of the last three seasons. The putter has really come around this season as well, ranking top-15 in putting average and three-putt avoidance.
Ian Poulter, ($9,000)
Bay Hill has been a nice venue for Poulter. He has made every cut here since 2011 and has six top-25's in that stretch. As conditions get tougher, Poulter seems to rise towards the top. His short game is the main reason why. Last year he ranked top-30 in both SG: Around-the-green and SG: Putting. Poulter was also 10th last season in Par 5 birdie or better percentage, which will be key at Bay Hill as there is limited scoring opportunities outside the four par-5's. He went T16-T17 in the desert before a T27 last week at PGA National.
Joel Dahmen, ($8,900)
After being forced to withdraw in Scottsdale, Dahmen has gone T14 at Pebble and then T5 at Riviera. This season he ranks 15th in SG: Tee-to-green and 12th in proximity to the hole. He is also 24th in SG: Off-the-tee, 35th in scrambling, and 36th in putts per round. Dahmen is solid at worst in all areas of his game, which will be important when trying to take on this beast that is Bay Hill with the forecasted conditions.
Alex Noren, ($8,600)
Noren is having somewhat of a resurgent season after a complete dud in 2019. He has made six-of-seven cuts with three top-15's already, which is one more than he had all of last season. His stats line up well for what I think it will take to find success this week around Bay Hill. Noren ranks top-30 on Tour this season in SG: Approach, SG: Around, SG: Tee-to-green, scrambling, and scoring average.
Strategy Tips for this week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
There's enough depth in this field to go ahead and reach for a sure thing like McIlroy or Fleetwood. Some players near the top I would be hesitant to pay for would be Hideki Matsuyama (short game/putting), Brooks Koepka (form/injury), and Justin Rose (form). Other five figure players not mentioned I have interest in would be Adam Scott (ball-striking/form), Patrick Reed (short game/form), Henrik Stenson (course history), and Collin Morikawa (literally never missed a cut). Consistency through the bag is what you're going to need if you hope to be among the leaders on Sunday afternoon. Because of the forecasted conditions, missed greens should be even more common than they have in recent years. Much like a week ago at PGA National, the ball-striker that is scrambling the best should be your man to hoist the trophy.