The Sleeper Report: Fantasy Golf Sleepers, Long Shots, and Undervalued Picks for the Arnold Palmer Invitational
The 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational Sleeper Preview
After what feels like a lifetime of multiple champions dominating the PGA TOUR, how refreshing was it to see two talented young stars in the making battling it out for their maiden title on Sunday?
In the end, it was our very own “sleeper” selection Adam Hadwin – the outstanding Canadian who took to the front early on Saturday and never looked back – who picked up his first piece of silverware at the Valspar Championship ahead of another young player, Patrick Cantlay.
Hadwin has his name engraved on the trophy, but in some respects the real winner at Copperhead was Cantlay, a former world number one amateur who recorded the lowest PGA TOUR round in history by a player from outside the paid ranks by firing a 60 at the Travelers’ Championship in 2011.
But years of back injuries and personal tragedy – including witnessing the death of his caddie Chris Roth in a road traffic accident – derailed his comeback until he resurfaced at the AT&T Pebble Beach earlier in the year. And the rest, as they say, is history. Like with another fine player who has battled back from the brink, Nick Watney, it will be interesting to see how far Cantlay can go in 2017.
There were few other storylines of note from the Valspar; a tournament that passed by with little interest. The two Vegas favorites, Justin Thomas and Henrik Stenson, failed to shine – Thomas struggling with a stomach bug picked up in Mexico, Stenson playing his final 54 holes at -1 after opening with a round of 64. The Swede will have to improve this week at Bay Hill if he wants to hang with such illustrious company in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
This will be the first staging of the event since the passing of the man himself, and there has been uproar regarding the lack of OWGR top 50 players in the field. Many consider it to be a soiling of AP’s great legacy that so few could be bothered to make the trip, and you’d have a hard time disagreeing with that ideology.
But those in the field will pay their respects to the great man and get to enjoy the stunning Bay Hill Club too. Measuring 7,419 yards for its Par 72, Bay Hill has become synonymous with traditional Floridian golf; those without a strong tee-to-green game need not apply.
It was usually a tough old test with its small landing zones and tricky-to-read TifEagle Bermuda Grass greens, but new course superintendent Chris Flynn oversaw an overhaul in 2014 that delivered wider fairways and fewer trees. The result is that winning scores have improved from an average of -13 in the early 2000s to -19 and -17 in the last two editions.
So there’s lots for this field to look forward to this week, and what a field it is. Deciding who has the upper hand out of Rory McIlroy, Stenson, and Hideki Matsuyama is a tough task, and then when we add in the returning – and defending champion – Jason Day, recent Honda Classic winner Rickie Fowler and a stack of talented Europeans in Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters, and Matt Fitzpatrick; this is going to be an outstanding week of golf, and a fitting tribute to Arnold Palmer’s legacy; no matter about who isn’t here.
So who are this week’s best longshot picks? Let’s take a look…
The Arnold Palmer Invitational Fantasy Sleeper Report
You must be a Premium Member to view our exclusive fantasy golf picks.
Already a member? Sign in Here.
Want more of this week’s fantasy predictions? Check out our full fantasy preview for the 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational here.
Cover photo via Instagram