The next tournament on the Florida Swing is the Arnold Palmer Invitational (API) at Bay Hill Club and Lodge. The course will play as a par 72, measuring 7,454 yards and will be putt on Bermuda greens. Last year, this tournament was the last full-field event before the COVID-19 shutdown.
After a grueling test at Concession Golf Club, those coming over won’t have much of a respite this week. The Arnold Palmer Invitational played difficult last season, with the winning score at 4-under par. Since 2016, the winning score is averaging just above 12-under par. Some traveling from Bradenton to Bay Hill include 2018 API Champion Rory McIlroy (+900, $11,500), Bryson DeChambeau (+1250, $11,000), Hideki Matsuyama (+2800, $9,400) and defending champion Tyrrell Hatton (+1800, $10,000). Somewhat similar to last week, the field will not be the usual 156 golfers. Since it’s an invitational, the field consists of 123 players as of the time of writing.
Bay Hill has played host to the event since 1979. The late Arnold Palmer made renovations in 2009, including changes to all the greens, bunkering, yardage and moving it from a par 71 to a 72. The course emphasizes accuracy off-the-tee over distance with multiple doglegs and eight water hazards that’ll be in play on nine holes lining both fairways and greens. Even though the course is close to 7,500 yards, golfers routinely elect to take less than driver to get their shots in the fairway with thick Bermuda rough. We see this with golfers hitting fairways in regulation at a higher rate over the TOUR average and not hitting their drives as far, with the average driving distance coming in at less than the TOUR average. Therefore, golfers are hitting long-irons into these challenging greens, especially on the four par 4s measuring 450 to 500 yards. Scoring will be difficult on the par 4s this week, which means those who can take advantage of the four par 5s should have the edge over the field. We can’t forget how difficult last week was around the greens, so those who also have a solid short game on Bermuda grass should be considered.
Lineups that are rostering golfers coming in with solid form versus good course history are something to watch. This week, we should consider golfers who historically play well either in Florida or at Bay Hill. Four of the top five golfers in Strokes Gained: Total here have either a win or a runner-up finish in the past five years. Conversely, players like Sungjae Im (+2250, $9,700) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+9000, $7,500) have played well in their first starts but teed it up the week previous either in Florida at the Honda Classic or a WGC event, which is the type of form we should be considering.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (+2500 to Win, $9,800 on DraftKings)
We’ve now seen back-to-back tournaments with the Englishman in solid form, gaining an average of 5.6 strokes tee-to-green. Fitzpatrick has mentioned he likes playing courses like this, which is evident with his runner-up finish here in 2019 and ninth-place finish last season. Fitzpatrick should garner a hefty roster percentage, but he should be worth it this week given how well he’s hitting it, ranking 27th in approach and 20th off-the-tee over his past eight rounds on the PGA TOUR.
Will Zalatoris (+5000 to Win, $8,600 on DraftKings)
Zalatoris’ ball-striking was fantastic last week, which led to a top-25 finish on a challenging course in a WGC field. The putter let him down, losing close to five strokes, but the experience last week on challenging, Bermuda greens should help him this week. A sixth-place finish at the U.S. Open last season and a top 15 at the Genesis Invitational proves the young Zalatoris can play with the best, especially on demanding tracks.
Lanto Griffin (+7000 to Win, $7,700 on DraftKings)
Griffin ranked 11th in approach last week but struggled around the greens. Like Zalatoris, experiencing tight Bermuda lies should help Griffin at Bay Hill, where he finished 36th last season. His proximity from 200-plus yards out, which has the highest distribution of approach shots here, is stellar, ranking 21st over his previous 24 rounds.
Matthew NeSmith (+11000 to Win, $6,900 on DraftKings)
Few have been better tee-to-green than Nesmith, ranking eighth over his previous 24 rounds. More specifically, no one has been better than him with their approach over the same timeframe, and that’s what you need at Bay Hill. He’s also a good Bermuda putter, ranking 31st over the previous 12 rounds, but he may become more popular as the week progresses. Sebastian Munoz (+11000, $6,700) hasn’t been hitting it at a high level like he was toward the end of last year. Still, Munoz gained 4.9 strokes with his irons at Concession Golf Club last week and will get another week on Bermuda, which is his preferred putting surface.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
21+ (18+ NH). CO/IL/IN/IA/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/MI only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is reidtfowler) 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.