Fantasy Golf Picks, Odds, and Predictions for the Arnold Palmer Invitational
2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational Fantasy Preview
Don’t worry folks: you didn’t go to bed on Wednesday night and sleepwalk into some kind of Hot Tub Time Machine scenario and wake up in 2002.
Tiger Woods really IS playing quality golf again and contending for titles, and Paul Casey really HAS ended a nine-year PGA TOUR title drought just a matter of days after Phil Mickelson ended his own torturous dry period.
Whatever your thoughts on Tiger’s on and off-course peccadilloes, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be glad to see him ripping those approach shots again. The big stick is going to be his Achilles heel, you would fancy – be hasty before going all in on him at Augusta – but at ‘club down’ courses like Copperhead he stands every chance of winning a title soon enough if he continues in this vein.
But the final word from the Valspar Championship has to go to Casey, a man much-maligned for his willingness to refer to himself in the third person as much as his torturous commentary as he makes his way around the course. He is a fine player, mind you, and looks in fine fettle ahead of a return to the Augusta layout he adores so much.
The battle for the green jacket will commence in three weeks’ time, and so all eyes are on the big guns as they make their final preparations for the Masters. You will have ample opportunity to scout some more at this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, the last act of the Florida Swing, as a high quality field assembles to tackle the great man’s beloved Bay Hill course.
Tiger Woods plays his shot from the 14th tee during the final round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course on March 11, 2018 in Palm Harbor, Florida. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Last Week’s Fantasy Results from the Valspar Championship
Last week all seven of our main picks made the cut despite a lot of the big names like Spieth and McIlroy falling victim to the cut line on Friday. With seven playing on the weekend, we’ve improved our cuts-made ratio to roughly 81% this season with 96 players making the weekend out of 119 total picks this season.
Paul Casey of England poses with the Valspar Championship trophy after winning at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course on March 11, 2018 in Palm Harbor, Florida. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
As Casey marched on to victory, we ended up with four players finishing in the Top 16 including Sergio who charged up the leaderboard with a closing 65 Sunday with eight birdies. Our second pick Adam Hadwin closed the weeks with a T12 and Luke List and Jamie Lovemark both finished T16.
2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational Field
The natural headliner this week is of course Tiger Woods, who will tee up for consecutive weeks for the first time in an eternity. The eight-time winner of this tournament is the favorite with the sportsbooks to add a ninth Bay Hill trophy to his collection.
Competition will come from the likes of Jason Day, first in the Farmers Insurance Open and second at Pebble Beach in his last pair of starts, Justin Rose – who has a home in Orlando, and Hideki Matsuyama, who will pay for the first time in a month after suffering a wrist injury.
There are plenty of other interesting angles this week, with Rory McIlroy desperate to find some form ahead of the year’s first major, while tournament co-host Rickie Fowler will be looking to prove that hosting duties don’t have to necessitate a below-par performance out on the course.
Defending champion Marc Leishman is in town, as are a quartet of European Tour stalwarts who all have top-10s at Bay Hill to their name: Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Henrik Stenson and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
Rickie Fowler plays his shot from the 14th tee during the final round of World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship at Club De Golf Chapultepec on March 4, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
This Week’s Course Preview
We’ve been treated very nicely of late with the chance to watch top quality golf played at some of the finest courses around, with Riviera, PGA National and Copperhead all providing a stern test of ball striking, rather than the grip ‘em, rip ‘em and tear it apart style courses that feature on the Tour elsewhere.
Happily, Bay Hill is the perfect location at which to sign off the Florida Swing. Originally designed by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee back in 1960, Arnold Palmer actually took over the property in 1976 and it became his pet project until his sad passing in 2016.
The great man was known for his tinkering of the layout but it has only undergone two major overhauls in more than four decades. The latter of which widened the fairways and trimmed trees in 2014, and it’s perhaps no surprise to note that the winning scores have increased since, by and large.
But this is still a tough test at a full 7,419 yards for its Par 72, with comprehensive bunkering and water in-play on nine holes. The Bermuda fairways and greens, having been re-seeded a few years ago, are now in pristine condition, but the wind can act as a key source of defense following the thinning of the foliage.
In 2017 a whopping 13 of the 18 holes averaged over par; this is far from a pre-Masters jolly!
Arnold Palmer’s favorite viewing spot of the 18th green during the final round of the PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 19th, 2017 at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, FL. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Weather Forecast for Orlando, Florida
Unusually, the weather forecast looks rather benign this week with the strong Floridan winds easing to a gentle breeze in time for Thursday’s first tee.
All four days should be sunny, with a cool start in the mornings giving away to highs of 82 degrees later in the day – especially at the weekend, with Saturday and Sunday the pick of the days.
The sunny and dry weather will keep the ball running smoothly, and an even grater premium will be placed on accurate ball striking.
Last Year’s Results from the Arnold Palmer Invitational
If you can sink a 50ft eagle putt when chasing the leaders on a Sunday, you are going to put yourself in a strong position to contend for honors. And when all around him were hesitant, Marc Leishman was anything but.
Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman held a three-shot lead overnight heading into Sunday, but neither could capitalize on their position. The Hoff played the front nine a disastrous 39 shots, handing the initiative to Kisner.
But he came up short and failed to make a single birdie on the back nine, meaning that Leishman’s final round of 69 was enough to secure him the title; his first since the Travelers Championship five years prior.
Kisner and Hoffman clung on to a share of second place, with Rory McIlroy and Tyrrell Hatton rounding out the top-five.
Where to Play Fantasy Golf for the Arnold Palmer Invitational this Week
A couple of weeks shy of the Masters, now is the time to build our bankroll! If you can, spread your funds across a variety of different contests this week, including this pair:
- PGA $500k Dogleg: Once again, DraftKings’ top contest is the $500k Dogleg, which offers a $100k top prize for a $33 buy in, with the first 20 teams home earning a minimum of $1k.
- PGA $350k Fore: Try your hand in one of the smaller multi-entry contests like this one, where first prize is a tasty $25k for a $4 buy in. Again, the top 20 trouser $1k each.
This Week’s Fantasy Notes for the Arnold Palmer Invitational
With a decent bank of form to utilize on tough curses during this Florida Swing, clearly the best strategy to adopt this week is to draft those who have been in fine form lately.
Both of the courses at PGA National and Copperhead are far from being a walk in the park – neither is Bay Hill, by all accounts – and with all three played on Bermuda we have an obvious basis for comparison.
The key difference is that the players will be taking driver and three-wood off the tee more this week, especially with the Par 5s being so crucial, but since the fairways have been widened accuracy seems to be less of a concern; indeed, Leishman ranked a respectable, if not spectacular, T17 for fairways found 12 months ago.
But his irons were on fire, whether from the short or the long grass, as he raked first for Greens in Regulation. You don’t need to worry about the flat stick so much if you are lasering your approach shots into 10ft.
Like we say, this is a course where Par 5 scoring really is at a premium. Leishman’s winning mark was -11 a year ago, and he played the Par 3s in -1, the Par 4s in +1 and the Par 5s in -11….go figure.
On the regulation holes, bogey avoidance is crucial, and as if any extra context was needed Leishman ranked T14 for Birdies Made and T3 for Bogey Avoidance.
Typically great wind players tend to do the business at Bay Hill, with the rollcall of winners including Tiger, Leishman, Jason Day, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els. There have been plenty of other notable performers in the wind, such as Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, who have finished second here. That may be less of a factor this year given the forecast, but still worth knowing.
Florida form, Bermuda putting, Par 5 birdie making and bogey avoiding….there’s not a whole bunch else you need to focus on this week.
Our Top 5 (and Top 2 Sleeper) Fantasy Picks and Odds to Win the Arnold Palmer Invitational
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Fantasy Golf Predictions This Season (2017-2018)
Total Top 3s
Total Top 10s
Total Top 25s
Total Winners Picked
Total Runners-Up Picked
Total Made Cuts (Includes Sleepers)
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