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PGA DFS: Vegas Report - Arnold Palmer Invitational


Welcome back to the PGA DFS: Vegas Report. Keith Mitchell captured his 1st career PGA Tour title at the Honda Classic. The 27-year-old sunk a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole to avoid a playoff with runner-up finishers Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka. The victory skyrockets Mitchell up the Official World Golf Rankings from 161st to 68th and provides him a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour. The former Georgia Bulldog entered the event coming off of three missed cuts in his previous four tournaments, but most diehard fans inside the industry were not overly surprised by his triumph. Mitchell had a stretch from July to November last season that saw him make nine of 10 cuts, which included five top-30 finishes. The Palm Beach Post may have called Mitchell a "No-Name Champion" in their headline, but I can assure you that this is not the last we will hear from the big-hitting American.

I was relatively satisfied with how our betting card turned out at the Honda Classic. We took a new approach of highlighting 10 golfers for the event and saw eight of the 10 players make the weekend. The goal should never be to be perfect when dealing with outright selections because we are looking for some volatility, but I have no complaints about an 80 percent success rate. Lucas Glover at 60/1 was our best finisher, concluding the tournament in a share of fourth place. For those with each-way betting, Glover's finish would have graded as a victory at 1/4th the odds and rendered a winning week.

Our head-to-head selection of Zach Johnson -115 over Kiradech Aphibarnrat had a pressure-free weekend after Aphibarnrat missed the cut at 10-over par. It didn't hurt that Johnson flirted with the top of the leaderboard on Thursday and Friday, but the Thai golfer did just about exactly what we projected in our analysis. If you are looking for ways to figure out value and your edge on a given wager, I think last weeks head-to-head write-up provided an excellent learning tool. It had slightly more math than some would care to see, but it's essential to be able to quantify your advantage. I'll provide the link here in case you missed it, but assuming you were along for the ride last weekend, let's dive into some value plays we will be targeting at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots.  Sign Up Now!

For an in-depth breakdown of the top DraftKings and Fanduel plays, check out Joe Nicely's weekly Horse For The Course that highlights the best fits for the week's course.

To see who the RotoBaller staff is selecting in the weekly 'One and Done' contest, click here

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

Sign Up Now!

 

2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational - Bay Hill Club & Lodge

7,419 Yards - Par 72 - Greens Bermuda

After last week's Honda Classic left everyone disappointed with the quality of the field, the Arnold Palmer Invitational has created one of the strongest collection of players you will find outside of a major or WGC event. The invitational status of the tournament will keep the entries down to around 120 golfers, but we will see the same rules of the top 70 players and ties making the cut. That will allow a little more aggression on DFS sites when it comes to roster construction, but the quality of the field has nobody safe to play the weekend.

Bay Hill is a challenging layout, especially if the wind blows. Rory McIlroy captured the title last season at 18-under par, but that explosion in scoring doesn't do justice to the difficulty of the venue. Water comes into play on nine holes, and it is heavily bunkered with 85 sand traps. The par-fives will present the most natural scoring chances, but the par-threes are long and complicated.

Proximity to the hole from 200+ yards will be crucial this weekend, which is one of the reasons why Bay Hill is a second shot course. Over 33 percent of approaches come from 200 yards or beyond and strokes gained approach has been 2.2 times more influential on the top-five finishers than strokes gained off the tee. Players will need to be able to scramble around Arnie's masterpiece and create birdie opportunities when possible. The venue is long at over 7,400 yards, but it doesn't allow golfers to bomb-and-gauge with no risk. There is a strategy that comes into play on most holes, and players will need to understand the risk/reward behind every shot.

Arnold Palmer Invitational Best Bets

The Arnold Palmer Invitational is one of those events that features a stacked field and a considerable likelihood that the winner ends up being an upper-echelon golfer. That is usually a recipe disaster for someone like me that is trying to find value down the board. On my spreadsheet, all 10 players at 33/1 or less graded inside the top-14. It is nearly impossible to locate value when that is the case, and unless you have each-way betting, it feels like an event that could quickly drain your funds. I would tread carefully with your exposure at this event.

Similar to last week, I decided to change up the dynamics of the article. Included below are 10 golfers that I would contemplate placing a wager on at Bay Hill. That doesn't mean you should bet every name listed, and in fact, it would be nearly impossible to have a winning week if you did. Instead, this is meant to serve as a tool for you to examine and try to piece together your own wagers. Remember, you want to try and win around the same amount on every player, so keep that in mind when putting together your choices at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.


#1 Justin Rose - 12/1, DK Price $10,700, FD Price
$12,100

You could make a substantial case for Rory McIlroy this weekend given his form and course history, but I am happy to get a discount on DFS sites and an increase in the betting market on Justin Rose. Those that follow this article weekly will know my disdain for betting the very top of the board. However, Rose is a unique situation when it comes to his odds. The Englishman has arguably been the best player in the world since the end of 2017, winning six times in his last 32 events, not to mention his 16 additional top-10 showings.

Rose has had a slow start to begin 2019, playing only three worldwide tournaments, but the second-ranked player in the world was able to win at Torrey Pines in January, even though the golf community practically counted him out for the week. Rose had made an equipment change entering the event but showed that the hoopla surrounding his switch was all for naught. If we remove Rose's missed cut from the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2014, he grades out statistically as perhaps the best course fit I have seen since I started handicapping golf. But even if we keep that result on record, he has provided three top-13 showings in the previous three years and slightly edges McIlroy when attaching 50 percent weight onto statistics, 30 percent to form and 20 percent to course history. There is never a ton of value when you bet someone at 12/1, but there is enough to warrant consideration.

#2 Rafa Cabrera Bello - 60/1, DK Price $7,500, FD Price $9,900

Anytime an event features long iron play from over 200 yards, Rafa Cabrera Bello becomes a name that you must consider. The Spaniard ranks second on the PGA Tour when it comes to proximity to the hole on approach shots from beyond 200 yards, and he also ranks 14th compared to the field in strokes gained putting. Cabrera Bello has never played Bay Hill before, but he is a Bermuda specialist that does his best work in strong fields and less-than-driver courses.

Bay Hills length is extreme, but it is even more daunting than it appears because most shots require strategy off the tee. Thirty-three percent of all second shots come from over 200 yards, and every player will have to deal with their fair share of long iron play. Cabrera Bello seems to be better suited than most to handle the intimidating layout and is a potential bargain at 60/1.

#3 Tommy Fleetwood - 35/1, DK Price $9,100, FD Price $10,600

Tommy Fleetwood is still going to come in around 13 percent owned on DraftKings, but it feels like one of those weeks where the Englishman is going to go slightly under-the-radar. His statistics, form and course history are all respectable, but he isn't jumping off the page as much as he normally would.

Fleetwood has provided two top-26 finishes here in his two attempts, and he enters the week as the second-ranked player in the field in proximity from 200+ yards. The 28-year-old has lacked a finish better than a share of 16th in his five worldwide starts to begin 2019, but he is creeping towards a significant result and just needs to put together a complete effort to finally find his breakthrough in America.

#4 Ian Poulter - 50/1, DK Price $8,000, FD Price $10.100

Some golfers run hot and cold with their results, and Ian Poulter falls into that category. The 43-year-old is projected to be one of the highest owned options on DFS sites this weekend, but his ability to string together results in bunches cannot be ignored. Poulter finished in a share of third place at the WGC-Mexico Championship and has provided three additional top-six results in his past three European Tour stops.

The Englishman has fared well at Bay Hill throughout his career, posting five top-25s since 2011, and he ranks inside the top-six this season compared to the field in par-five scoring, sand save percentage and greens in regulation. At an outright price of 50/1 and $8,000 price tag on DraftKings, he is worth a second look in all game types.

#5 Zach Johnson - 90/1, DK Price $7,700, FD Price $9,800

From 2016-2018, Zach Johnson never finished worse than 60th on tour in strokes gained putting, which included two top-25 seasons. But shortly into his 2019 campaign, the American is in a share of 134th place, losing strokes on the greens in seven of his past eight rounds.

Johnson's putting has been hit-and-miss from different distances, ranking fifth in the field when faced with a putt over 20 feet, but he has struggled mightily from inside 10 feet, placing him 73rd out of 123 players. The 43-year-old is starting to round into form with the rest of his game, and he has shown enough success with his flat stick over the years for us to know that this is just a bad stretch for the 12-time PGA Tour winner. Johnson flirted with the top of the leaderboard during the Honda Classic last week on Thursday and Friday but didn't see his odds move because of an awful finish that dropped him into a share of 59th place. I am willing to overlook his recent struggles and believe we are getting a steal at 90/1.

#6 Danny Willett - 150/1, DK Price $7,000, FD Price $8,100

Danny Willett nearly fell off the face of the earth after winning the Masters in 2016. The victory moved him up to ninth in the world, but by the time the 2018 Masters had concluded, Willett had fallen all the way down to 371st in the world. He hit an all-time low of 442nd last July, but something began to click right around that time.

Willett has made 10 of his last 14 cuts, which includes seven top-25 results and a victory during his previous outing at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. The six-time European Tour winner has skyrocketed back up to 73rd in the world, but his outright price of 125/1 hasn't necessarily taken into account his current form. The Englishman recorded a share of 29th here in 2015 and is ranked eighth in the field in strokes gained approach and 13th in proximity over 200 yards. Willett's $7,000 price tag on DraftKings has him projected to only be owned at 3.2%, and he is a sneaky option that can help you capture a GPP tournament.

#7 Sam Ryder - 300/1, DK Price $6,700, FD Price $8,500

I am going to include Talor Gooch and Nate Lashley into the same discussion here. There's good chalk that you are willing to accept like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas because they are top-tiered players that have an exponentially higher probability of winning the event than practically anyone else. And then there is bad chalk like Talor Gooch and Nate Lashley. My spreadsheet is about to explode with Gooch and Lashley jumping out in every statistical situation, regardless of how I run the calculations.

Gooch is priced at $6,800 on DraftKings while Lashley comes in at $6,900. However, their nearly 16 percent projected ownership makes me realize that I am not the only person that has found them to be game-changing plays at a cheap price tag. When that happens, I prefer to deviate from the pack and find pivot options that might go overlooked.

Sam Ryder at 300/1 provides a very similar skill set but without the current form that the aforementioned Lashley and Gooch are displaying. Ryder is a solid iron player that is very good out of sand traps and can score on par-fives. He isn't going to pop off the board because he hasn't come better than a share of 40th place this season, but the American has made four of five cuts and appears to be trending in the right direction. I may regret missing out on Gooch and Lashley, but at $6,700 on DraftKings and three percent projected ownership, I think this is a great spot to be different, and 300/1 presents us with nearly two times the value.

#8 Chesson Hadley - 200/1, DK Price $7,200, FD Price $9,300

If Sam Ryder is one of the replacements for Talor Gooch or Nate Lashley, Chesson Hadley will be my other pivot selection. Hadley's erraticness has been his most significant deterrent lately, but the 31-year-old has sprinkled in a few close calls.

In Hadley's previous nine tournaments, he has missed four cuts but has also rendered four top-20 finishes, including a second-place showing at the CIMB Classic and a share of seventh in Vegas. The American is the perfect GPP or outright selection because of those results, and he enters the week ranked fifth in strokes gained approach, first in total proximity and fifth in proximity over 200 yards. His less than five percent projected ownership is perfect for someone trying to locate a contrarian golfer, and Hadley has the game to succeed in Florida.

#9 Si Woo Kim - 80/1, DK Price $7,800, FD Price $9,200

Si Woo Kim has quietly put together two consecutive top-four finishes at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Genesis Open. His stellar play has him ranked inside the top-10 compared to the field in strokes gained around the green, birdie or better percentage, strokes gained putting and scrambling.

Despite his recent run of success, the South Korean is only projected to be seven percent owned on DraftKings and enters the week priced as an 80/1 longshot to capture the title. Kim has won a title in two of his three seasons on tour but is experiencing a 52 tournament drought since his last victory. However, the 23-year-old has proven to have the moxie to get the job done late on Sunday and has already won in Florida during his career at the 2017 Players Championship.

#10 Kevin Kisner - 100/1, DK Price $7,200, FD Price $9,000

The return to Bermuda should do wonders for Kevin Kisner. The American made a few mistakes during his second-place showing in 2017 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but the runner-up finish mixed with three consecutive top-28 results entering the week seems to be pointing in Kisner's direction unobtrusively.

Kisner comes into the week ranked 13th compared to the field in strokes gained putting and 12th in bogey avoidance. His $7,200 price tag on DraftKings has him projected to be five percent owned, and this feels like a big outright price on the two-time PGA Tour winner

Bonus Bomb

Michael Kim - 750/1, DK Price $6,200, FD Price $7,100

If Michael Kim landed within a top-seven each-way position and I didn't recommend him, I wouldn't have been able to stomach it, so here is a free bonus bomb selection.

Kim's 750/1 outright price makes sense if you consider he has missed his previous five cuts and seven of his past eight, but there are a few interesting factors that point in the 303rd-ranked golfer's direction. For starters, Kim's third-best PGA Tour result came during the 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational, resulting in a share of 17th place. The finish could have been better if Kim didn't stall out during his final round and shoot an even-par 72, but a runaway victory during last year's John Deere Classic shows that the 25-year-old is capable of handling an intense Sunday.

Of players on tour that have hit a minimum of 30 attempts from at least 200 yards this season, Kim grades fifth with a 41'9" proximity on 49 attempts and has played those holes in 10-under par. Two thousand eighty-six approach shots were hit outside 200 yards during last year's Arnold Palmer Invitational, which was the most of any tournament on the season. It's a longshot wager for a reason, but Kim's game is suited to find success at Bay Hill, and the event hasn't been immune to providing its fair share of wonky leaderboards. Kim is priced at $6,200 on DraftKings and is projected to be under one percent owned.


MY TOP 30 RANKED GOLFERS FOR THE WEEK

Key Stats: SG Approach (25%), Proximity From 200+ Yards (20%), Par-Five Birdie or Better % (15%), Strokes Gained Putting (15%), Birdie or Better % (15) and Bogey Avoidance (10%) 

50% Stats/30% Form/20% Course History


Head-to-Head Play of the Week

Chesson Hadley -110 over Chris Kirk -110
Chesson Hadley 7,200 price tag on DraftKings vs. Chris Kirk $6,900 price tag on DraftKings
Chesson Hadley 4.5 percent projected ownership vs. Chris Kirk 1.4 percent projected ownership

0.82 Units to win 0.75

It is a complicated head-to-head card this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Part of it stems from the fact that the field features nearly 21 percent fewer golfers than usual and 58 percent of the players will make the weekend, but the sportsbooks also did a great job of mitigating too many advantageous matchups.

I don't like it when I start branching down too far on my spreadsheet for our selection because all we are doing is adding in a missed cut risk of our own. But it is difficult for me to view a head-to-head sheet and not try to pick out an opponent that I think is more likely to miss the cut. It took me until Chesson Hadley (who I have rated as my 36th golfer) to find a matchup that saw the opposition in the territory I wanted. Unfortunately, Hadley's numbers are incredibly volatile too, but I do think we have a slight edge over Chris Kirk.

Kirk has been boom-or-bust at Bay Hill the past four seasons, providing two top-13 finishes and two missed cuts. The upside he possesses isn't ideal, but Kirk has been brutal in his previous 11 events. The American has missed seven cuts and hasn't had a showing better than a share of 41st. I discussed how Hadley isn't an ideal cash-game option this weekend and should be played primarily as a GPP choice in my best bets section, but it is the only spot that I could find to squeeze in a little value. I believe we only have a 3.2 percent implied probability advantage, but it was the most I could find in a non-coinflip situation. Good luck this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational!


2019 Head-to-Head Record (9-3-2)

+7.30 Units Year-To-Date From H2H Bets

Tournament

Head-to-Head Bet

Bet

My Picks Finish

Opponent Finish

Result

Total

Safeway Open

Sangmoon Bae +130 Over Chris Kirk

1.00 Units to Win 1.30

MC (+2)

MC (E)

Loss

-1.00

CIMB Classic

Kevin Na -120 over Kevin Tway

1.50 Units to Win 1.25

T19 (-17)

T27 (-13)

Win

1.25

CJ Cup

Paul Casey +100 over Marc Leishman

1.25 Units to Win 1.25

T18 (-8)

T18 (-8)

Push

0

WGC-HSBC

Thomas Pieters +120 over Kevin Na

1.00 Units to Win 1.20

T18 (-1)

T54 (+10)

Win

1.20

Shriners

Austin Cook +100 over Russell Henley

1.00 Units to Win 1.00

MC (+1)

MC (-1)

Loss

-1.00

Mayakoba

Kevin Chappell +100 over Charley Hoffman

1.25 Units to Win 1.25

T41 (-9)

MC (+2)

Win

1.25

RSM Classic

Patrick Rodgers -105 over Bronson Burgoon

1.05 Units to Win 1.00

2nd (-19)

MC (+2)

Win

1.00

Sony Open

Jimmy Walker -115 over Kevin Na

1.15 Units to Win 1.00

T51 (-6)

Did Not Start

Push

0

Desert Classic

Anders Albertson -110 over Anirban Lahiri

1.10 Units to Win 1.00

T34 (-14)

MC (-8)

Win

1.00

Farmers Insurance

J.B. Holmes +130 over Branden Grace

0.70 Units to Win 0.91

MC (+4)

MC (+3)

Loss

-0.70

Farmers Insurance

Jordan Spieth -110 over Alex Noren

1.10 Units to Win 1.00

T35 (-7)

MC (E)

Win

1.00

Waste Management

Ryan Palmer +105 over Kevin Tway

1.00 Units to Win 1.05

T60 (E)

MC (E)

Win

1.05

Genesis Open

Hideki Matsuyama -110 over Jordan Spieth

1.10 Units to Win 1.00

T9 (-7)

T51 (+1)

Win

1.00

Honda Classic

Zach Johnson -115 over Kiradech Aphibarnrat

1.43 Units to Win 1.25

T59 (+3)

MC (+10)

Win

1.25

 

2019 Outright Bets That Have Finished Inside the Top-10

Player

Event

Odds

Finish Position

Matt Kuchar

Mayakoba Golf Classic

66/1

1

Chesson Hadley

CIMB Classic

110/1

T2

Ryan Palmer

CJ Cup

150/1

T3

Sam Ryder

Shriners Hospitals

80/1

3

Chez Reavie

Sony Open

80/1

T3

Justin Thomas

Waste Management

10/1

3

Lucas Glover

Honda Classic

60/1

T4

Jason Day

CJ Cup

13/1

T5

Zach Johnson

RSM Classic

40/1

T7

Kevin Kisner

RSM Classic

40/1

T7

Webb Simpson

TOC

25/1

T8

J.B. Holmes

Safeway Open

60/1

9

Gary Woodland

Farmers Insurance

28/1

T9

Hideki Matsuyama

Genesis Open

30/1

T9

Shubankar Sharma

CIMB Classic

150/1

T10

 

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