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DraftKings PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf Preview: Arnold Palmer Invitational Course History vs. Current Form

Zach Thompson takes a look at golfers with the best course history and current form ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The PGA TOUR stays in the Sunshine State for the second straight week as the focus shifts from Tampa to Orlando, which will host this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. Sandwiched between the WGC-Workday Championship last week and THE PLAYERS Championship next week, this week’s event doesn’t have quite as strong a field as we’re accustomed to at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, but we should still get a great tournament from a good field on this well-known track.

Each week this season, I’ll take a look at two of the key factors to consider when building DraftKings lineups. We’ll take a look at players who have a good history at the specific course being played (or similar courses if it’s a new venue), and we’ll also take a look at some of the golfers coming in with the best recent results.

Set your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups here: PGA TOUR $800K Flop Shot [$200K to 1st]

Course History

We go from one extreme to the other on the course history spectrum. Last week, we had a course that had never been played by a PGA TOUR event at The Concession Golf Club, and now we head to Bay Hill, which has hosted a PGA TOUR tournament every year since 1979. There’s obviously plenty of data to dig into, and here’s a quick look at some of the players with the best showings over the past five years:

Course History

Player Name Salary 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Player Name Salary 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Rory McIlroy $11,500 27 4 1 6 5
Bryson DeChambeau $11,000 27 -- 2 46 4
Patrick Reed $10,200 -- -- 7 50 15
Tyrrell Hatton $10,000 -- 4 69 29 1
Matthew Fitzpatrick $9,800 27 13 88 2 9
Sungjae Im $9,700 -- -- -- 3 3
Jason Day $9,200 1 23 22 -- --
Francesco Molinari $8,700 9 7 26 1 --
Marc Leishman $8,200 17 1 7 23 2
Jason Kokrak $8,100 20 56 88 10 18
Rickie Fowler $7,800 -- 12 14 40 18
Charley Hoffman $7,600 -- 2 14 71 13
Luke List $7,200 -- 17 7 10 --
Chris Kirk $7,000 12 98 13 15 --
Keith Mitchell $6,700 -- -- -- 6 5
Lucas Glover $6,600 27 7 49 10 105
Sung Kang $6,300 116 -- 58 6 9

While the deed for the land is still in the family of the great Arnold Palmer, it’s obvious that Rory McIlroy ($11,500) has owned this course over the past few seasons. He won the event in 2018 and finished in the top six each of the past four years. He has never missed a cut here and only finished outside the top 25 once in his six career appearances.

Rory’s success is a great template for putting together a profile of the kind of golfer that typically excels on this track. The course sets up with a feel that is similar to a lot of European tracks, which is probably why international golfers have fared so well here lately. No American has won since Matt Every ($6,100) took home back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015 for his only two career PGA TOUR wins. Due to the doglegs, hazards and bunkers, many approach shots will be from over 200 yards, and international players are familiar with courses built with similar specifications in both Europe and Asia. Expect plenty of different flags on the leaderboard again this week with a strong international contingent and really only Patrick Reed ($10,200) and Bryson DeChambeau ($11,000) among the high-profile Americans playing this event.

Francesco Molinari ($8,700) of Italy definitely seems to be a good fit here as well making the cut in all seven of his career tournaments at Bay Hill, including a win in 2019 and three other top-10 finishes. He also seemed to find a nice groove putting in his most recent tournament, gaining .780 strokes per round on the green on his way to a T8 at The Genesis Invitational two weeks ago.

If you are looking for some bargain options with good history, check out Chris Kirk ($7,000) or even Keith Mitchell ($6,700). Mitchell has used top-10 finishes here to earn his way to the Open Championship the past two seasons, although his recent results haven’t been good. Kirk has looked good on the PGA TOUR so far this season and posted three top-20 finishes in his four events in 2021. He satisfied his Major Medical Extension with his T2 at the Sony Open in Hawaii and will be able to play the rest of the season in that category as a result. Kirk didn’t play this event last season but posted top-15 finishes in three of the four previous seasons.

Based on the past few years, shots gained on approach is the key statistic to consider over shots gained off the tee or around the green. Last year, Max Homa ($8,500) ranked fifth in that category on his way to a T22 finish while Rory, Byeong Hun An ($7,100) and Tom Hoge ($6,500) were also in the top 10 in that category. On the PGA TOUR so far this season, Matt Wallace ($6,900), Keegan Bradley ($7,000) and Matthew NeSmith ($6,900) are the only players in the top 10 in that category in this week’s field.

Current Form

For the second straight week, there are several players who have been doing work on a variety of professional tours leading up to this event, and we also had two events last week on the PGA TOUR with alternate-field Puerto Rico Open along with the WGC-Workday. You can find some players with strong form from those other events listed below, but here are those with the hottest form based on the main PGA TOUR events since the calendar turned to 2021:

Current Form

Player Name Salary Sentry TOC Sony Open The American Express Farmers Insurance Open Waste Management AT&T Pebble Beach Genesis WGC-Workday
Player Name Salary Sentry TOC Sony Open The American Express Farmers Insurance Open Waste Management AT&T Pebble Beach Genesis WGC-Workday
Rory McIlroy $11,500 -- -- -- 16 13 -- CUT 6
Viktor Hovland $10,600 31 -- -- 2 -- -- 5 2
Patrick Reed $10,200 21 -- CUT 1 -- -- -- 9
Sungjae Im $9,700 6 56 12 32 17 -- -- 28
Jordan Spieth $9,300 -- -- -- CUT 4 3 15 --
Louis Oosthuizen $8,800 -- -- -- 29 11 -- -- 6
Francesco Molinari $8,700 -- -- 8 10 -- 59 8 --
Will Zalatoris $8,600 -- -- -- 7 17 55 15 22
Max Homa $8,500 -- -- 21 18 42 7 1 22
Marc Leishman $8,200 24 4 -- 18 -- -- 32 39
Kevin Na $8,000 38 1 CUT -- -- -- 38 11
Cameron Trigale $7,700 -- -- 56 18 17 7 26 --
Matt Jones $7,400 -- 11 21 48 30 34 8 --
Andrew Putnam $7,100 -- CUT 21 -- 7 55 32 --
Chris Kirk $7,000 -- 2 16 -- CUT 16 -- --
Matthew NeSmith $6,900 -- CUT CUT 48 7 16 20 --
Doug Ghim $6,600 -- CUT 5 37 -- 21 CUT --

There are a number of players that appear on both lists, showing a nice convergence of form and course history for Rory, Reed, Molinari, Marc Leishman ($8,200) and Kirk. Homa and Nesmith, who were mentioned above for their statistical profile, also have posted strong results in 2021 and make solid targets as well.

Jordan Spieth ($9,300) will be returning to action after not qualifying for last week’s WGC. He will be teeing it up for the first time competitively at Bay Hill, though, which usually isn’t a recipe for success. His form has been great, though, especially on approach and with his putter, so he could overcome his lack of familiarity with the course and continue his resurgence. Will Zalatoris ($8,600) will also be playing in his first Arnold Palmer but continues to show he belongs in the ranks of the top golfers in the world with strong showings in events with elite fields.

Cameron Tringale ($7,700) and Matt Jones ($7,400) both didn’t play last week in Florida but showed good form during the West Coast swing, and they’ll look to carry over that momentum this week. Jones actually has a third-place finish at Bay Hill as well back in 2015 and will look to continue the excellent putting that has seen him gain almost a full stroke on the field per round over his 36 measured rounds this season.

Not shown on the chart above are the results from last week’s Puerto Rico Open, where Branden Grace ($7,500) claimed a one-shot victory with a closing round six-under. Others in the field this week who placed in the top 15 in that event at Grand Reserve Golf Club include Andrew Putnam ($7,100), who finished T5, Cameron Percy ($6,500), who finished T7, and Emiliano Grillo ($7,400) who finished T11. It’s also not reflected on the chart above that Paul Casey ($9,100) and Tyrrell Hatton ($10,000) each picked up wins on the European Tour earlier this season as part of the Gulf Swing in the Middle East.

Set your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups here: PGA TOUR $800K Flop Shot [$200K to 1st]

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