The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history, and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
Adam Hadwin capped off what has been a dream start to 2017 for the Canadian with a win at Valspar. He shot a 59 at the Careerbuilder a couple of months ago, is set to get married soon and now has his first win on the PGA Tour. You’ll now see Hadwin in the field at Augusta in a few weeks. The other big story last week was the return of Patrick Cantlay to form. Cantlay was a can’t-miss prospect a few years ago who has had to overcome numerous obstacles just to get back out on Tour. His second place from last week ensures membership for the rest of the season, and you’ll likely be seeing his name on leaderboards a lot in upcoming weeks. We are now a mere three weeks away from Augusta.
This is the first year of the Arnold Palmer Invitational since the namesake’s death last season, and the field this year is a tad more stacked than it usually is as a result. From the top tier of players, Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy and last year’s champ Jason Day are all in attendance. We are also getting a plethora of great international players in attendance this week as Thomas Pieters, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer are all here. One last note on the field, as this is an Invitational event, the field this week is limited to only 120 players, meaning it should be easier (statistically speaking) to get 6/6 players through to Saturday, but it will also make getting at least five through vital.
Bay Hill — Orlando, Florida
Par 72, 7,400 – 7,500 yards
This course has hosted this event since inception but has undergone major renovations over the lifespan of this event. Unlike many courses, Bay Hill — in an attempt to ensure long-term viability — has actually had modifications done to it that have made it easier to play overall. The course used to play as a par 70 between 2007 and 2009 but reverted back to a par 72 in 2010 and remains that way today. After 2014, fairways were widened and overgrown rough and some trees were removed, making driving conditions easier for the players. New Bermuda greens were also added. Overall the last two winners of this event have been -19 and -17, and the weather for this week looks perfect, so I expect decent scoring from the players.
As mentioned above, the course features Bermuda greens, and as a traditional par 72, also features four par fives — none of which play longer than 570 yards. As such, these holes will yield a ton of birdies or better during the week and will need to be played in well under par by any player hoping for a top finish. While players will be able to score on the par fives, Bay Hill does carry some challenges along the way, including three par threes which measure in at 215 yards or longer. Players will also be challenged by the longer par four finishing hole, which requires an accurate drive off the tee and a steady hand on the approach to a semi-island green. All in all, expect Bay Hill to yield some low scores but also expect players who hit poor shots to be severely penalized. There are over 70 bunkers on the course and water is in play on half the holes. This is a course which rewards aggressiveness but can punish those golfers who push their luck too far.
LAST 5 WINNERS
2016 — Jason Day -17 (over Kevin Chappell -16)
2015 — Matt Every -19 (over Henrik Stenson -18)
2014 — Matt Every -13 (over Keegan Bradley -12)
2013 — Tiger Woods -13 (Justin Rose -11)
2012 — Tiger Woods -13 (over Graeme McDowell -8)
Four of the last six winners of the API recorded a finish of eighth or better in one of the Florida swing stops before their victory here (exceptions: Every ’15 and Day ‘16).
Six of the last Seven winners of the API finished the year ranked 54th or better in par five scoring in the year of their victory (exception: Every ’15).
Par 5 Birdie or Better
Birdie or Better Percentage
Par 3 Efficiency – 200-225 yards
Since the redesign, the course has become a little easier to score on, and golfers have really needed to take advantage of the par fives. Jason Day was second in the field last year in Par 5 Birdie or Better for the week, and past champions and top finishers have all generally had great weeks on the par fives. Scoring well on these holes will be important for DFS purposes too, and I think it is a stat to consider this week when making lineups.
The course this week carries some trouble but should also yield a lot of low scores too. Birdie or Better Percentage is a stat that should translate well. Since 2011, the lowest the winner of this event has ranked in Birdie or Better Percentage for the week is second, and last year’s winner Jason Day led the field in this stat.
With the par threes all playing approximately between 200 and 230 yards this week, looking at specific stats from that yardage makes sense. Efficiency and scoring on longer par threes will be a decent guide as to who might be able to handle these longer holes better, or at the very least, find out who has performed well on these holes this season. The last three winners have all ranked inside the top 10 at Bay Hill in this category for the week of their win.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
Kevin Na$7,600 and 67-1
Cameron Smith$7,300 and 200-1
Webb Simpson$7,100 and 101-1
Luke List$7,200 and 150-1
Sean O’Hair$7,300 and 125-1
Daniel Summerhays$7,200 and 200-1
Sean O’Hair is coming off a withdraw but is back this week and brings great course form with him. O’Hair has made eight of his last nine cuts at Bay Hill, a run that includes a runner-up finish from 2009.
Henrik Stenson nearly won this tournament in 2015 and followed that up with an impressive third place finish last year. His overall results in his last seven visits to Bay Hill are 52-47-15-8-5-2-3. After warming up last week with a strong top 10, he looks like a really strong play at a course he’s dominated the past few years.
Zach Johnson has played here 12 years in a row since 2005 and only missed the cut once. He also has four top 10s in that span, a string which includes a fifth place from last season. He hasn’t started the season strongly but could easily pick things up here.
Jason Kokrak doesn’t have a long course history, but he’s finished 20th, sixth and fourth here over the past three years. He’s a great par five scorer, and obviously likes this layout. Kokrak is also coming off three made cuts entering the week.
Cash Games: In a field of only 120 golfers, I think it is ok to push your focus on upside this week since at least 58% of the field will make the cut here, and I prefer rostering one of the top two players this week in cash games as a result. Henrik Stenson is likely the player with the better floor, although Rory McIlroy has the higher win equity, and I’d lean Rory if forced to choose. Other targets here include Tyrell Hatton, Paul Casey, Thomas Pieters, Kevin Kisner and Marc Leishman
Tournaments: There is a lot of risk/reward types of plays in this field. It’s likely Jason Day will go very under-owned at the top. He’s started very slowly in 2017 but was third in Birdie or Better Percentage last season and will eventually pick things up. Louis Oosthuizen is a touch overpriced at $9,300 but he’s been in decent form all season as well and could be very low owned. A top five by him would make him a great leverage play in GPPs. Other potential tournament targets include: Martin Kaymer, Sean O’Hair, Russell Henley and Harris English.
Top Recent Form (Overall):
1. Wesley Bryan: He has now made four straight cuts and finished 4th-4th-7th in his last three starts. He’s -26 over his last 12 rounds of play.
2. Anirban Lahiri: He has made six straight cuts worldwide and only finished outside of the top 20 once in his last four starts. He led the field in birdies last week in India and is fourth in Birdie or Better Percentage on the PGA Tour thus far in 2017.
3. Tyrell Hatton: He has continued his great roll with a 10th place finish in Mexico (despite stomach issues). Only one round over par in his last eight rounds on Tour and has now finished 25th or better in each of his last 10 starts worldwide.
Top Strokes Gained: Tee to Green from Last Week
1. Tony Finau
2. Patrick Cantlay
3. Chad Campbell
Top Strokes Gained: Putting from Last Week
1. Keith Mitchell
2. Danny Lee
3. Jonas Blixt
MY PICK: PAUL CASEY ($8,800)
Casey, remarkably, has only one win on US soil thus far in what has otherwise been a very impressive career. While he’s let some opportunities slide by recently, his game is still in top form. He ranks 12th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and third in Strokes Gained: Around the Green on the year, suggesting he’s on top of pretty much every facet of his game, outside of his putter. Casey hit the ball brilliantly at the Honda Classic but was near dead last in putting for the week (and still finished 11th). He may have found something in Mexico though as he gained strokes on the field putting in the final two rounds. With a ninth place finish at this event from last season to build on, Casey looks poised for a big week. I’m going out on a limb and saying Casey not only produces for DFS here but lands his second PGA Tour win as well.
MY SLEEPER: HARRIS ENGLISH ($6,700)
English got off to a rough start in 2017 but may have found his groove somewhat last week. He started with a 77 last week but shot six under in round two to make the cut. English may not have too many great results yet, but he’s still ranked 41st for the year in Birdie or Better Percentage and has shot some low rounds at Bay Hill before, a history which includes opening with a 66 and a 68 in 2015. In English, you’re getting a golfer that is trending upwards, has the requisite length and short game to take advantage of the par fives and who comes in with a decent track record at Bay Hill. He carries solid upside at a cheap price and is one of my favorite plays under $7k this week.
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