The PGA tour moves from the Sunshine state to California this weekend for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. This PGA Tour tournament has a $20 million prize fund, and the field is set for what should be an intense tournament. WagerTalk golf handicapper Andy Lang shares his thoughts on this week’s field and potential betting opportunities.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Field
It’s a loaded field again, as most of the big names will be playing this week in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, and this course can be a brute when the conditions are harsh. In 2018, Rory won this event at -18, and last year when the weather was brutal, Scheffler won with a score of -5. The par 5’s should be gettable this week, but the rest of the course can be challenging.
The rough has been grown outside the fairways, but the rough has been taken off in areas that lead to water so wayward shots can roll into the drink. If the course is firm, drives will stop immediately, making this course longer and more difficult, and the greens can be unpredictable. That said, guys who struggle with putting won’t be making my card. Also, the wind is the big story at this course. It is expected to be windy on Friday, and the wind is expected to calm down on Saturday, with good conditions expected on Thursday and Sunday.
As we all know, the weather can change at the drop of a dime, but if we’re looking at head-to-head matchups, I would hope to find guys playing similar tee times, so they get the same weather Thursday and Friday. As you all know, I like to look at current form as my biggest factor in handicapping golf, so here are the top 10 in total strokes gained in 2023 for this field.
1. Jon Rahm
2. Scottie Scheffler
3. Max Homa
4. Jason Day
5. Collin Morikawa
6. Chris Kirk
7. Tony Finau
8. Xander Schauffele
9. Patrick Cantlay
10. Will Zalatoris
Arnold Palmer Invitational Players to Avoid
Last week we had Aaron Wise and Denny McCarthy as our Players That Can Trip You Up, and both performed well below expectations, so hopefully, that was helpful to you all. This week we have a stacked field with several names I’m nervous about for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Matthew Fitzpatrick ($8,800) – Fitzpatrick has a neck issue he’s dealing with, and it’s showing as he’s finished MC, 29th, MC in his last three tournaments. Why is he playing this week? Well, he’s part of the PIP program that requires the Top 20 players to play in at least 16 of the 17 elevated tournaments this year. He’s been quoted as saying, “I do think there’s too much golf,” and on Feb. 1, he said, “I hurt my neck last Saturday. So it’s still not 100%. I can still play, but I’ve not got full speed” (credit to Paolo Uggetti of ESPN for that great article). In 2023, he’s 45th in total strokes gained in this field, an alarming -0.36 strokes gained in approach, and he’s outside the top 35 in putting. No way I’m betting on Fitzpatrick this week.
Rory Mcilroy ($10,600) – Fading Rory cashed us 7 units last tournament he played in, and I’ve seen nothing that makes me want to bet on him. Last tournament, he hit some long bombs into the hole on and off the green in the first two rounds, and those shots stopped falling on the weekend, and he was a mess. His round 4 was a disaster, and he limped home to a 29th-place finish as he was a top 3 betting favorite coming into the week. He’s a top 3 betting favorite again this week, and there’s no way I’m betting on him. He has the 39th-worst strokes gained putting in the field this week. I will repeat that. The 3rd highest betting favorite…is 81st in putting this year. He has good course history here, but that doesn’t matter when you’re struggling with your game, as he has admitted that he is. His course history is good, but last year 11 golfers finished ahead of him, so don’t let the course history fool you, and don’t let other articles talk you into him with their lazy research and being scared to point out that Rory is not playing like a top 3 golfer. There are way better golfers to put your money on this week.
Arnold Palmer Invitational DFS Darlings
If it’s your first week reading this, first off, welcome!!! Second, I only play one lineup a week, and I go head-to-head against someone, so I can only report my personal results in my head to heads.
It was a great week with DFS last week as all my darlings/players made the cut making for an easy weekend as my opponent was never really in it. This week I’m going stars and scrubs with three players $7000 or less and three big names who all have a chance at competing for the win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Zach Johnson ($6500) – I don’t know what fountain of youth Zach has found, but he’s made the cut in every tournament this year and finished 12th last week, albeit at a weak field. But his course history here is insane. He’s made the cut every year since 2012 and is the only golfer to do so. If he makes the cut and gets points on the weekend, he’s a steal.
Danny Willett ($6800) -Willett has suddenly started showing up on the weekend as he’s finished 41st, 18th, and 29th in the last three tournaments. He’s also made the cut the last three years here, so that combo makes him very attractive at $6800.
Byeung Hun An ($7000) – He’s made the cut every tournament this season, going 5/5 in made cuts, and he’s played here six times and made the cut every time. His putting isn’t great, but it hasn’t stopped him from making the weekend this year. I’ll take him at $7000.
Jason Day ($8500) -He’s really underpriced here as he’s talked about how much better his game and mindset are this years following the passing of his mother last year. He’s finished 9th, 5th, and 7th in his last three tournaments and looks to be in incredible form, both physically and mentally.
Max Homa ($9700) – He’s finished top three in three out of his last four tournaments, and has solid finishes the last three years here. He’s playing top 5 golf in the world right now. This feels like a great price.
Jon Rahm ($11,500) – I just want the best golfer on the planet in my lineup. He’s won three out of the last five tournaments he’s played in, with his other finishes being 3rd and 10th.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Free Play
Jon Rahm Top Continental European -145 (DraftKings) I think this price is a gift for Rahm in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. His next biggest competition is Viktor Hovland at +400, and Hovland has no finishes better than 12th this year, and as much as I like Hovland, he continues to be priced like an elite golfer, but he’s not right now. After that, it’s Alex Noren, Thomas Detry, Adrian Meronk, Molinari, Straka, Lingmerth, and Aberg. Straka is the only guy I would say has the ability to come out of nowhere and finish top 5 in a loaded field and not be intimidated by the big names, but he’s missed the cut every time he’s played here. Nobody in this group scares me at all, it would take Rahm having a bad tourney to lose this, and I don’t see that happening with how good he’s playing.