PGA DFS Arnold Palmer Invitational Targets

If you need PGA DFS to remedy football withdrawal, I post DK targets each week on Fake Pigskin. My goal every week is to offer targets in each price range, identifying two to three low-cost/reasonable floor targets as core pieces for all my lineups.

In DFS golf, it’s all about getting your guys to the weekend, first and foremost. The way DK prices their fields out, I almost never will play anyone 10k or above. With something as random as golf performances week to week, they simply do not justify the investment in my mind.

Generally, I will fill out my roster with guys in the $7,500-$9,000 range. The factors I consider are event history, course layout versus player strengths, recent form, and prime bounce back candidates who are playing well, but happened to miss the cut the prior week.

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One factor does not necessarily outweigh another. And, like any good speculative decision-making process, instincts always play a role. Of course there’s my personal favorite factor–as is the same with other fringe DFS sports–the DK pricing model has no clue what the fuck it is doing!

Last season, I consistently laid out the theory that rostering players five figures and above just was not worth it week to week. Scroll toward the end on my results page to see how I used the Masters results as evidence to support this. The point is, golf performances week to week are so erratic. I would generally suggest the good ole diversification strategy.

Going a step further, unlike most other DFS games that have positions, golf is just picking six guys that are doing the same exact thing in a given week. That said, probably more than any other DFS sport I’ve played, leaving 1-2k on the table is perfectly fine. Do not feel like you HAVE to spend your entire cap.

Throughout this season I will post more thorough analyses of why both approaches make DFS golf a bit different from football, hoops, and baseball. And how ridiculously futile it makes it when trying to win. All that in mind, let’s take a look at the Arnold Palmer Invitational (API) information to clarify some unique characteristics that you may want to consider before lineups lock.

Course: Bay Hill Club and Lodge   Orlando, FL   Par 72   Yardage 7,381

The API is an early season marquee event on the PGA Tour. Bay Hill has graciously played host every year since 1979. And with one of golf’s Mount Rushmore names sponsoring, it typically brings out a majority of the tour’s biggest names.

Unfortunately, that will no longer include one Eldrick Woods, who has won the event a ludicrous eight times in his career.  A nagging neck is to blame for his absence this week. One can’t help wondering if this Jupiter investigation is playing a part, and that Tiger is truly BACK once and for all.

One thing is for sure, he will likely be missing out on a birdie fest compared to last week’s Honda Classic. Unlike the defensive PGA National course, Bay Hill is set up for scoring. Here is the last five years’ winners and their scores:

2018 Rory McIlroy -18
2017 Marc Leishman -11
2016 Jason Day -17
2015 Matt Every -19
2014 Matt Every -13


Since its last renovation in 2010 Bay Hill has played to a par 72. The course features four very gettable Par 5s, including 16 which begins one of the most iconic three hole finishing stretches in golf.

Scoring on 16 will be a huge factor Sunday if scores are close because the monster par 3 and 4 that await on 17 and 18 are typically the toughest holes on the course.

Keys to Success

Along with hole 16, overall par 5 performance will be key. Players will need to keep adding birdies to their cards if they want a chance to contend here. The best way to do it will be to take advantage of the four Par 5s that generally rank as Bay Hill’s easiest holes year over year.

As mentioned, players who can get hot and pile up the birdies are going to be ideal here. I know. You could copy/paste that sentence into every week’s preview. But the point is that this isn’t like last week’s Honda Classic where playing for pars is a win on many holes.

Similar to my dating strategy, players will need to attack and convert at every opportunity that presents itself. Par 5 performance, birdie average, and strong approach games are the stats I am considering most when identifying targets this week.

Chalky McChalkerson (Five figures to round 9k)

Shockingly, players at the top of most categories statistically are… You guessed it. The best players in the world! Ya see, golf stats don’t lie.

If you are gaining strokes on the rest of the field, you’re finishing higher in tournaments, and in contention to win more often than your peers–i.e., you’re better.

In contrast, Matthew Stafford can throw for 200 yards and two scores in garbage time for 10 straight years, irrefutably producing great stats. But no one is confusing him for a great quarterback. Or eating at the same dinner table as guys like Brees or AR12.

Point being, there really aren’t empty stats in golf. Guys that are consistently contending/winning by definition are gaining strokes on the field. This will always translate into elite stats in one way or another.

Which is why I think you can’t go on stats alone. And be realistic about playing the top guys week to week in DFS. Don’t automatically fade them. Just understand anything outside a top 10 finish really isn’t going to do much for your lineups. Speaking of chalk….

With Tiger out, that leaves four players in the five-figure range. Not gonna hear me say to fade any of those guys.

(Getty Images)

What I will say is that Fowler and Koepka were the only guys that bought you what you paid for last week. Shit, my favorite of the bunch–Adam Scott–didn’t even keep his weekend hotel reservations.

I would not avoid guys like McIlroy or Fowler this week, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to include them either. I’ll gladly take guys like Fleetwood and Molinari who have relatively similar floor/upside combos at a more cap friendly price. Jason Day at $9,900 seems like a bargain pivot as well.

Sweet Spot (9kish to around 7.5k)

Hideki Matsuyama  $9,400
2019 season, Cuts: 7/7  Top 25s: 5  Top 10s: 1  Wins: 0
Course History (since last renovation), Cuts: 4/4  Top 25s: 2  Top 10s: 1  Wins: 0

After getting over a thumb/hand ailment early in 2018, Hideki is back to his dart throwing self. Coming into last August, he ranked 83rd in FedEx points and was at risk of missing the Tour Championship for the first time in his career since joining full-time.

Notoriously streaky, “good” Hideki caught fire to end the year, finishing T-15 or higher in each playoff event, including a T-4 finish in his fifth consecutive Tour Championship appearance. The steaminess has not stopped.

Matsuyama has yet to miss a weekend in 2019, managing five top 25s in seven starts. Statistically he’s fifth overall in strokes gained on approach shots, and modestly ranks T-27 in Par 5 scoring.

If he can get his shaky wand going, expect to see him teeing off late Sunday afternoon.

Si Woo Kim  $7,800
2019 season, Cuts: 8/10  Top 25s: 5  Top 10s: 3  Wins: 0
Course History (since last renovation), Cuts: 2/3  Top 25s: 0  Top 10s: 0 Wins: 0

No shaky wand problems here. Yet. For whatever reason, Kim’s putting numbers to begin this season have been wayyyyyy up from their usual terrible level.

Through last week, the 23 year-old South Korea product ranks third on tour in putts per round, the main driver behind his eighth ranked birdies per round at 4.86.

(Source: Andrew Redington/Getty Images North America)

He’s young and I don’t necessarily expect it to last. But right here, right now? I’m going with the hot hand heading into a tournament where scoring is going to be a must in order to remain on the first page of the leaderboard.

Besides, who knows? He might be young but this is his fourth professional year on tour. Maybe we are just witnessing an ascending talent putting it together… Perhaps this year’s Cameron Smith?

Other Considerations
  • Luke List $7,900 — Prime bounce back spot. I know. It’s becoming a weekly ritual.
  • Fleetwood and Molinari for the aforementioned reasons.

Mispriced Players (best values)

Henrik Stenson  $8,100
2019 season, Cuts: N/A  Top 25s: 0  Top 10s: 0  Wins: 0
Course History (since last renovation), Cuts: 8/9  Top 25s: 6  Top 10s: 5  Wins: 0

The approach shot savant has battled through some nagging injuries over the past year. Even so, he’s still maintained a high level of play. In 16 starts last year, he managed nine top 25s and five top 10s. He also maintained his elite approach game ranking first in GIR for the year.

This is usually right around the time last year’s 36 hole API leader ramps up his schedule each season. And his five top 10 finishes in his last six API appearances suggests he enjoys Bay Hill as much as his precious three wood. 

Getty Images

As long as Stenson is suiting up, I’m assuming he’s healthy. If he’s healthy, he’s capable of winning any tournament he plays in. One vintage performance from him and he’ll move right to the 9k range. I’ll enjoy his soft price now while it lasts.

Other Considerations
  • Rafa Cabrera Bello $7,500 — Also a bit underpriced here. Solid all around game. Will get his first PGA Tour win soon.

Longshots (7kish and below)

Aaron Wise  $7,000
2019 season, Cuts: 4/7  Top 25s: 3  Top 10s: 1  Wins: 0
Course History, Cuts: 1/1  Top 25s: 0  Top 10s: 0

I love this guy. He’s young, can hit the ball a mile, and is able to laugh off getting stone walled by his girl on national television.

AP Photo/Eric Gay

Based on my IG stalking, he hasn’t rested on his 2018 Rookie of the Year laurels for this season. In addition to a new frame, Wise has continued his rep as birdie hoarder in 2019.

After ranking 12th overall last season in birdies per round, he, again, sits near the top of the tour tied for fifth with Rickie Fowler through last week. Digging in this range, I want guys that can go on tears, providing the upside that make them worth the risk. Wise is exactly that.

Other Considerations
  • Harold Varner III $6,900 — Playing solid going back to last season. Stats up across the board. Has hot twitter takes on Antonio Brown and The Bachelor.

Core Players

Last season, I started including my core players to build around in all my lineups. I try to identify targets before prices are released to stay focused, and avoid editing my lineup 2,000 times ten minutes before lock.

For example, I might auto-play Fleetwood as long as he remains in his price range regardless of the tournament. These selections are players that I believe have top 25 floors with top 10 upside, and a reasonable case to win. This season’s tracking begins now. Core selections this week:

  1. Matsuyama
  2. Stenson
  3. RBC
  4. Kim

Good luck in Orlando! Don’t hesitate to reach out on twitter compliments and insults are always welcome.


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