Welcome back to Golf News Net’s weekly fantasy golf picks. Each week of the PGA Tour season, we’ll present our top picks for that week’s tournament and make recommendations for DraftKings’ one-week fantasy leagues.
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This week is the final stop of the 2016 Florida Swing, as the PGA Tour heads to Orlando for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Mr. Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge. Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott headline the field as Matt Every is the two-time defending champion.
Last week, you’re loving us if you paid attention to our Ryan Moore and Bill Haas tips.
For GNN Plus subscribers, you can access our top-15 finish chart and season-long trends on DraftKings valuations. They’ll be available at your disposal as part of a growing set of tools to help in your research. Going forward, GNN Plus subscribers will also get access to the last five years of leaderboards for an event, namely the top 15 and ties from 2011-2015, the data that we use to define our horses for courses each week.
Now, on to the picks!
1. Adam Scott — Best player on the planet right now and winner of his last two starts. He shot 62 here in 2014 to give himself a 54-hole lead, but he came up short.
2. Henrik Stenson — Stenson loves himself some Bay Hill. He’s been in the top 15 here in four of the last five years. Pretty close to automatic.
3. Justin Rose — Rose is close to Stenson-level automatic. He has three top-15s in the last three years and hasn’t finished outside the top 17 in the last five.
4. Rory McIlroy — McIlroy has a Sunday problem, as in he can’t figure out how to break 70 in his last two final rounds. However, he contended in both those thud finishes. T-11 here in last year’s debut.
5. Ryan Moore — Moore should have won the Valspar Championship, if only he could’ve made a mid-range putt. Has a good record here, including a T-4 in 2012.
6. Matt Kuchar — Kuchar plays well in this event, and he’s starting to come around. Top 11 finishes at Riviera and Innisbrook suggest his ballstriking is on point.
7. Brandt Snedeker — Sneds had to pull out of Doral with a rib problem, so we’re keen to that this week. However, the Torrey Pines winner has a friendly record here, with two top-15s in the last five years.
8. Jason Day — Although Day hasn’t come out of the gate how he’d like or how he ended 2015, he still has the ideal game for Bay Hill: length to manhandle some of the par 5s and great putting numbers.
9. Zach Johnson — Johnson is ideal for Bay Hill because of his short game, which lets him hang around on the scorable par 5s. Two top-15s here in the last five years. He also made an albatross here.
10. Scott Brown — Yeah, Scott Brown. He has a pair of top-15s in his Florida Swing starts and he finished T-13 here in 2013.
My DraftKings team for this week:
1. Henrik Stenson — $11,100
2. Ryan Moore — $9,800
3. Zach Johnson — $8,300
4. William McGirt — $7,700
5. Scott Brown — $7,400
6. Trevor Immelman — $5,700
If you want to win at DraftKings daily fantasy golf, you have to figure out a way to find six golfers that play all 72 holes and earn roughly 85 points each.
You likely have to identify a couple of players in the top five, at least the top seven, and you’d ideally not have a player finish outside the top 20.
Doing that takes research, looking at a variety of factors, including:
- Finish trends, both in recent weeks on the PGA Tour and at that week’s event,
- Salary trends, deciphering which players are showing value based on their performance, and
- Statistical trends, identifying the common threads among winners in that week’s event
That’s what Golf News Net will deliver each week to GNN Plus members in this space, offering a complete research package which dives into these three areas to find the players that should be in your lineup for this week’s Valspar Championship.
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We start by looking at the recent past, back at players who have finished inside the top 15 in the last five PGA Tour events — not their last five starts. Here are the players in the Arnold Palmer Invitational field with the most top-15 finishes in the last five PGA Tour events:
- Adam Scott – 3 – T-2 Northern Trust Open, WIN The Honda Classic, WIN WGC-Cadillac Championship
- Matt Kuchar – 2 – T-8 Northern Trust Open, T-11 Valspar Championship
- Ryan Moore – 2 – 10th Northern Trust Open, 3rd Valspar Championship
- Scott Brown – 2 – T-10 The Honda Classic, T-7 Valspar Championship
We’re also interested in the players in the field that have finished in the top 15 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational multiple times in the last five years:
Henrik Stenson – 4
Kevin Na – 3
Brandt Snedeker – 2
Brian Davis – 2
Ernie Els – 2
Freddie Jacobson – 2
Graeme McDowell – 2
Jason Kokrak – 2
Justin Rose – 3
Keegan Bradley – 2
Mark Wilson – 2
Matt Every – 2
Matt Jones – 2
Ryan Moore – 2
Trevor Immelman – 2
Zach Johnson – 2
Ideally, we want to find players who are both playing well now and have a history of playing well at Bay Hill. We only have one this week: Ryan Moore.
DraftKings salaries change from week to week, depending on field strength and size, as well a player’s recent record and their history on a course. It’s in looking at how a salary changes over time that we might get some clues as to players that could be a little overrated or underrated.
Here’s the list of players in the field playing $1,000 over their average salary this season:
- Ryan Moore
- Matt Every
Here are players with multiple top 15 finishes in their last five events that are playing less than $600 above their average salary for the season, with players with salaries BELOW average value notated:
- Matt Kuchar ($1,000 BELOW)
- Scott Brown
Like Innisbrook, Bay Hill has been resurfaced with the same new grasses on the fairways and greens. What we don’t know is how speedy these surfaces will be. They were slow by PGA Tour standards last week. Either way, proximity to the hole is a big deal here this week. That should take into account the wider fairways at Bay Hill and the newer putting surfaces. Since Bay Hill can be played with or without distance, we’ll look at the general figure.
1. Vaughn Taylor
6. Adam Scott
9. Graeme McDowell
T-17. Rob Oppenheim
T-21. Kevin Kisner
T-23. Hideki Matsuyama
T-25. Lucas Glover