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Fantasy Golf Picks — 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks, Predictions, Rankings and Sleepers

Pat Mayo makes his 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks, while breaking down the field and rankings for the event and previewing the course and key stats.

Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from Bay Hill.

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2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational: Field

Field: 120 Players
Cut: Top 65 and Ties
Lineup Lock: Thursday, March 3
Defending Champ: Bryson DeChambeau

The removal of WGC Mexico from the schedule has benefitted no tournament more than the 2022 Arnold Palmer. After getting squeezed between Riviera/Mexico and THE PLAYERS, most of the top-end players normally associated with this event took a pass a year ago. Not the case this time around.

Bryson DeChambeau is playing for the first time since injuring himself (and since his dalliance with the Saudi Golf League, although he has now publicly stated he’s staying on the PGA TOUR, FYI). Joining Bryson is World No. 1 Jon Rahm, 2018 winner Rory McIlroy, Sungjae Im, Paul Casey, Scottie Scheffler, Adam Scott, Viktor Hovland, Will Zalatoris, Marc Leishman and reigning Masters champ Hideki Matsuyama

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bryson DeChambeau has withdrawn from the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

As per usual, there is also a massive contingent of international talent in the field in Orlando too: Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Matt Wallace, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Ian Poulter, Aaron Rai, Tommy Fleetwood, Danny Willett, Lee Westwood, Takumi Kanaya, Lucas Herbert, Min WOO Lee, Garrick Higgo, Henrik Stenson and Nicolai Hojgaard as they all begin their lead up to Augusta National.

Of that group, all have played in the U.S. already this year except for 2020 API champ Hatton. Making his stateside debut, and now ranked No. 23 in the world, the Brit has finished T6/T4/T28 in three Middle East starts in January and February.

There’s always a spot in the field given to the current U.S. Amateur champion (as long as they’re still an AM), in case you were wondering who James Piot was when you’re scrolling names.

2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational: Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Proximity 200+ Yards
  • Opportunities Gained
  • Par 3s Gained 200-225 Yards

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2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational: Course

  • Course: Bay Hill
  • Yardage: 7,466
  • Par: 72
  • Greens: Bermuda

2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational: Past Winners

  • 2021: Bryson DeChambeau -11
  • 2020: Tyrrell Hatton -4
  • 2019: Francesco Molinari -12
  • 2018: Rory McIlroy -18
  • 2017: Marc Leishman -11
  • 2016: Jason Day -17
  • 2015: Matt Every -19
  • 2014: Matt Every -13
  • 2013: Tiger Woods -13

2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational: Notes

Since we’re firmly entrenched in invitational season, here’s a reminder the field at the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational is smaller than the standard PGA TOUR event. Like the Genesis a few weeks back, there are only 120 players in the field, so at least 53% percent of players will make the cut. This allows for more flexibility when building DraftKings lineups at the bottom end of pricing, especially when the very bottom features players who have almost no chance of seeing the weekend. Take that into consideration and that shrinks the field even more. It’s good prep for The Masters, as the field at Augusta National is a more extreme version of this scenario with the field being even smaller.

This is your yearly reminder to consult the weather report before submitting lineups or making any wagers. A clear wave stack due to wind may emerge and you’ll want to take advantage of that. If the gusts are up, that will dramatically change the type of player you may want to target this week. Now, most years, the wind is up and it’s not too big of a deal. Then there was 2020. Weekend wind made the course a scoring death trap for the field. Matthew Fitzpatrick (69 in Round 4) was the only player to crack 70 on the weekend. Tyrrell Hatton was the first player since Geoff Ogilvy at the 2006 U.S. Open to fire two rounds over par on a weekend and still win. Of course, the forecast can change as the week goes on, but early indications show the leaders may get pelted with 30 mph winds Saturday afternoon. Considering Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari both staged at least six-stroke Sunday comebacks in 2018 and 2019, no one is ever dead at Bay Hill.

Water ripples in the eye line of almost every shot and sand (84 bunkers) is ubiquitous, not to mention that the rough is longer than the wedding scene in “Deer Hunter.” Similar to Riviera a few weeks back, Bay Hill actually plays longer than its 7,419 yards. With the prevalent water and series of doglegs, the holes have more distance to carry than they actually measure on the scorecard. More so when you consider the average drive is over five yards shorter than the average PGA TOUR event (277 yards to 283 yards). While there are only nine officially listed water hazards, the wetness directly affects those nine holes in an impactful way. Fortunately, the greenside bunkers at Bay Hill are some of the easiest on TOUR annually.

Players are forced to lay up off the tee to keep dry or set themselves up for a clean look at the green, the reason driving accuracy at Bay Hill (66%) is over five percentage points above the TOUR average (61%). Do that or risk paying the price — like on the par 5 sixth hole. You can take the water on to save some distance (hello, Bryson) and try to get on the green in two, or you can end up carding an 18 like John Daly in 1998. Since 1983, No. 6 has produced 23 scores in the double-digits. That’s the most on TOUR by a large margin.

If you’re someone who leans on stats and modeling to make decisions, beware of the international players whose primary tour is not the PGA TOUR. Small samples, strung across myriad years for some, will yield insufficient results — both good or bad.

Strokes Gained: Approach has been over two times as influential on the top 5 finishers as SG: Off The Tee, and three times more impactful than SG: Around The Green. The gap between each of the SG stats shrinks if expanded to the top 20 finishers. Looking at winners only, SG: APP is 2.7 times more impactful than SG: OTT and 4.2 times against SG: ATG. While SG: APP is always one of the most important stats to look at, it’s more pronounced this week with so many approaches coming from beyond 200 yards. Historically, around 30% of approaches will come from that distance, one of the largest distributions of approach shots from 200-plus yards of any course on TOUR.

Much of that has to do with the par 3s, as they average over 215 yards in length. Jason Kokrak, Thomas Pieters, Tom Hoge, Sam Burns and Kevin Na are the top players on holes from this length over the past 36 rounds.

The greens at Bay Hill have annually played extremely quick in comparison to most courses. The players with the most Strokes Gained: Putting per round on fast + LIGHTNING greens per round, over their past 36 rounds are: Zach Johnson, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Rory McIlroy, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Troy Merritt, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Sam Ryder, Adam Scott and Pat Perez.

Isolating those fast and lightning greens to just Bermuda putting surfaces: Zach Johnson, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Brendon Todd, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Denny McCarthy, Cameron Young, Sam Burns, Sahith Theegala and Kevin Kisner lead all players.

Marc Leishman and Jason Day have won both at Bay Hill and Torrey Pines in the past six years.

Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, Marc Leishman, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton have the most Strokes Gained: Total in the past five years at Bay Hill.

Anirban Lahiri, Si WOOO Kim, Cameron Champ, Charl Schwartzel, Henrik Norlander and Tim Herron have lost the most.

Bryson, Bezuidenhout, Kokrak, Fitzpatrick, McIlroy, Hatton, Sungjae, Chris Kirk, Matt Wallace and Max Homa have posted top 25 finishes in each of their past two starts. In only one appearance, Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris both have top 15 finishes.

2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks

Will Zalatoris ($9,400)

We’re doing it again! The driving was a bit off at the Genesis and he failed to gain strokes putting for the sixth consecutive start, but the results keep coming. It’s now T6/2nd/T26 for Zalatoris in 2022. He’s tops in approach over the past 12 rounds and is No. 1 in proximity from beyond 200 yards. Tee to green, he absolutely checks out. We just need this to be the week he starts making his putts. Although it’s not very often, when Zalatoris gains on the greens, it’s usually a significant amount. The last three times he’s been a positive with the flat stick — all on Bermuda greens, btw — he’s averaging +3.3 SG: PUTT. That’s enough to win if everything else remains normal.

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Danny Willett ($6,400)

There were a lot of positives to take away from the 2016 Masters champ’s performance at the Honda. Putting was not one of them. Willett was T12 in SG: T2G despite his T48 finish — that’s what losing 4.4 strokes on the green will do. The good news is he’s gained in two of four starts at Bay Hill in his career, so it’s not impossible for him to turn it around. Plus, if the weather gets dicey, that’s always to his benefit. From the players at the bottom of the board, Willett is an easy way to save salary.

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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2022 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 24 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time.

Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at and the best will be addressed on the show.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) 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 do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. 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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