This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Arnold Palmer Invitational
Bay Hill Club (7,454 yards, par-72)
$1,638,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner
A strong contingent of 123 invitees head to Arnie's place in Orlando for the second leg of the Florida Swing after the likes of Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Keith Mitchell provided enough final-round drama to keep the Honda Classic from strictly becoming a Vijay Singh resurrection. The golf club at Bay Hill has played host to the invitational since 1979, now honoring the late Arnold Palmer as the event's champion receives an iconic red cardigan sweater in addition to a cool $1.64M. Making the trek to the API will be 31 of the Official World Golf Ranking's top-50, including six of the top-10 as a talented field looks to remain sharp ahead of next week's PLAYERS Championship. Don't expect much precipitation as sunny skies are on tap with temps reaching into the mid-80s throughout the weekend, while a generally tame wind should result in reasonable scoring conditions.
Recent Past Champions
2018 - Rory McIlroy
2017 - Marc Leishman
2016 - Jason Day
2015 - Matt Every
2014 - Matt Every
2013 - Tiger Woods
2012 - Tiger Woods
2011 - Martin Laird
2010 - Ernie Els
Key Stats to Victory
Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
Proximity approaches > 200 yards
Strokes Gained: Putting
Bay Hill rewards both quality putting and exquisite ball striking, so there are multiple avenues to finding the podium as exhibited in recent years. Rory McIlroy finished outside of the top-40 in GIR percentage during his 2018 win, but led the field in driving distance and putting average as he reached 18-under with just four total bogeys. On the other hand, Marc Leishman hit the most greens in regulation en route to a 2017 victory, despite averaging less than 295 yards off the tee to go along with an underwhelming 116 total putts. One constant is par-5 scoring, however, so proximity on approaches from over 200 yards comes into play on more than just Bay Hill's lengthy par-3s. The rough has been grown to over three inches in certain spots, resulting in the selection of additional long irons as players make a sacrifice for precision, especially given the inclusion of countless dog legs and water features.
FanDuel Value Picks
Rory McIlroy, $12,200 - Leading the Tour in SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Total, McIlroy has strung together four straight top-5s culminating with runner-up honors at the WGC-Mexico Championship. His putter was on fire en route to a 2018 victory at Bay Hill, but he'll need to improve upon his current standing of 150th in one-putt percentage in order to defend this week.
Jason Day, $11,700 - Coming off back-to-back top-5s at Pebble Beach and the Farmers Insurance Open, Day heads to the site of his 2016 API win at fourth on Tour in birdie average, sixth in SG: Off-the-Tee, 13th in SG: Putting and 35th in par-3 scoring. He's made the cut in six consecutive Bay Hill appearances, highlighted by top-25s in each of the past four years here.
Brooks Koepka, $11,400 - Rebounding from mediocre results at the WGC-Mexico and Saudi International, Koepka racked up 18 total birdies at the Honda Classic last week while gaining over six strokes approach. He finished second in driving distance and performed just fine with the flat stick on familiar bermuda grass, but ultimately fell one stroke short of Keith Mitchell and his heroics on the par-5 18th. Koepka's ownership was down due to a lousy track record at PGA National, which could be the case again at Bay Hill given he's never posted a top-25 at Arnie's place.
Bryson DeChambeau, $11,200 - With frustration mounting after a disappointing T56 in Mexico, there's no doubt DeChambeau will have put in a lot of work to improve for this week's invitational. During last year's edition, he led the field in par-5 scoring and hit 52 greens in regulation on the way to a solo-second finish behind McIlroy. DeChambeau is now up to fifth in the OWGR and ninth in birdie or better percentage.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Byeong-Hun An, $9,700 - The South Korean is frequently hampered by a rotten putter, but nonetheless carries enough upside thanks to his tee-to-green play. An currently paces the Tour in SG: Around-the-Green while ranking 11th in SG: T2G, 29th in birdie average and 31st in total driving. He has yet to miss a cut this season and notched a T14 at Bay Hill in 2018, when he led the field in par-3 scoring and finished top-10 in both driving distance and GIR percentage.
Luke List, $9,100 - The volatile DFS sweetheart has performed well in every-other start since the season opener, so if this trend were to continue, a high finish at the API seems inevitable after burning gamers with a missed cut at the Honda. Much like the aforementioned Benny An, List simply can't putt but pounds it off the tee and ranks top-15 in SG: Tee-to-Green. Additionally, the latter is 18th in par-5 scoring and 40th in rough proximity with an API resume that includes back-to-back top-20s.
Aaron Wise, $8,800 - The 2018 Rookie of the Year may have already gotten his sophomore slump out of the way, having missed the cut in three straight starts from the Desert Classic through the Genesis Open this winter. Wise bounced back with a top-20 at the WGC-Mexico, however, where he averaged five par-breakers per round and finished eighth in SG: Tee-to-Green. He's fifth on Tour in birdie average and par-3 scoring.
Sam Burns, $8,300 - A potential GPP flier despite iffy recent form, Burns is 30th in driving distance and 53rd in proximity from over 200 yards. He fell victim to an MDF last week at the Honda Classic, but lost all his strokes around the green as he scrambled at a rate of just 55 percent. Burns made the cut during his debut here in 2018 and entered Sunday's final round inside the top-15 before faltering down the stretch with a five-over 77.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
It certainly may come back to bite, but I'll likely be limiting my exposure to Rickie Fowler after his tie for second at PGA National. A respectable finish combined with his overall likeability would naturally work to inflate ownership, but he was constantly saved by his short game at the Honda and is second on Tour in average distance of putts made. It wouldn't be shocking if at least a sliver of regression is on the horizon while he's priced above Koepka and DeChambeau, each of whom are better golfers than Fowler.