Arnold Palmer Invitational
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Arnold Palmer Invitational Field
120 Players | T70 and Make the Cut
The field for the Arnold Palmer Invitational features five of the world’s top eight players: Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose; along with upper class TOUR regulars Brandt Snedeker, Hideki Matsuyama, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner and Zach Johnson. With the WGC-Match Play looming, followed by The Masters shortly thereafter, the final wave of Internationals are making sure to get their American reps in. Byeong-Hun An, Andy Sullivan, and Matthew Fitzpatrick are playing for the first time since Doral, while Belgian Thomas Pieters, the world’s 56th ranked player, makes his US debut, fresh off a third place showing in Thailand last week. Kiradech Aphibarnrat was in Thailand as well. He missed the cut.
While Snedeker is listed in the field, remember, he withdrew at the WGC-Cadillac with a rib injury, and pulled out of the Valspar before the tournament started. Danny Lee and Sean O’Hair are currently in the field too, however both prematurely called it quits at Copperhead last week. Monitor the status of all three, as they are the most likely candidates to withdraw before tee-off Thursday and leave you with a goose egg in your lineup.
Finally, defending US Amateur and NCAA Champion Bryson Dechambeau will lace up the spikes with Arnie watching on. Dechambeau was the first round leader in Abu Dhabi in January, and made the cut in all three stacked fields during the Middle East-European Tour swing. Top Aussie Amateur, Ryan Ruffels, will join him in Orlando.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Key Stats
Arnold Palmer Invitational Course
Bay Hill | Par 72 | 7,419 Yards
Despite its length, Bay Hill, historically, has been dominated by two types of players: Shorter-hitting accuracy mavens that find a hot putter, and Tiger Woods. Tiger has one fewer win at THIS EVENT (8) than Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson have in their careers (9). That’s also matches Sergio Garcia, Snedeker and KJ Choi’s win totals, and more than Day, Rose, and Kuchar (7). Crazy, right? And, since Tiger can barely dominate standing up right now, outside of the truly elite players in the field, I’ll be targeting the other style of golfer. Distance off the tee will always have an advantage on Par 5s, but there are a collection of shorter hitters that can still generate an elevated birdie or better percentage on the longer holes and score on the lengthy Par 3s. If a player can’t consistently stick a long-iron, forget about them this week; all four Par 3s are 200+ yards while 36-percent of approaches will be from a similar distance.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks
Adam Scott – This is officially “Chalk Week” for the Yahoo! game. Scott has two wins and a second in his last three starts, why would you fade him?
Jason Day – People have jumped off the Day bandwagon pretty quickly this season. I understand he’s not winning every second event, but this is golf, if that was your expectation, you’ve LOST IT!!!! Now, the Aussie certainly isn’t at peak form, but he’s tackled some pretty strong fields in 2016 and has gone 23rd/11th/MC/10th. Not terrible. This may be a week the public opts for Scott and a lesser name in the A-List, stick with Day instead.
Henrik Stenson – When I listed the prototype player for this course, I should have just said, “Players like Henrik Stenson.” Deadly Tee-to-Green (9th), dominant from the key P3 range in 2015 (6th), and has finished 2nd/5th/8th/15th the last four years at Bay Hill.
Kevin Kisner – Kisner is quickly becoming American Stenson. The distance is lacking (90th), but he kills it in almost every other facet of the game: SG: T2G (31st), SG:Putt (39th), Birdie Average (4th), GIR (24th), Accuracy (8th), and, despite his lack of driving distance, Kisner is ninth in Par 5 Birdies or Better.
Rory McIlroy – It’s Rory. Play him. If you need more of a sell-job, enjoy losing.
Justin Rose – Rose is more inconsistent than the other elite players, but his upside is exactly the same. He’s been all or nothing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational (MC/2nd/15th/3rd/MC), but enters in good form (17th/16th/6th) and Top 15 grades in 200+ yard birdies or better, SG: T2G, birdie average, and overall birdie or better rate.
Camilo Villegas – Since I’m eating chalk for most my picks, I’ll swerve on the C-List. I can assure you, few will have Villegas on their roster. Camilo has finished no worse than 21st the last three years, and enters with three straight cuts made. While the blow up potential is high, extremely high, he’s been very solid doing the little things this season: Driving Efficiency (5th), 3-Putt avoidance (24th), Scrambling (34th), and Par 3 Scoring (28th). From the Key Par 3 range, 200-225 yards, Villegas is seventh in 2016.
Graeme McDowell – I swung and missed with GMAC last week, but one poor start isn’t enough to deter me. McDowell has Top 10s two of the past four years at Bay Hill, his accuracy (5th) will keep him out of the water, and his proximity from beyond 200-yards from the short grass (7th) is where the majority of his shots will come from this week. Plus, for a weak hitter off the tee (181st), he’s been lights out on Par 5s (11th in birdies out better).
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