Arnold Palmer Invitational Faves & Fades

2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational Faves & Fades: The 3 Best Players To Play and Avoid In DFS and Betting Markets

In Bombs & Values I talked about a slew of options at the bottom of the betting board and low end DFS value options for this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. That means we have a bona fide Stars & Scrubs week and will have ample opportunity to work in a few of the top names here as well.

The below Faves are a tight-knit group of guys I’ll be actively targeting to bet and have exposure to in DFS, and the Fades are players I’ll be looking to pivot off of or target against in Matchups. Let’s jump on in!

Faves

A cooler head was needed to prevail on a chaotic Sunday at Bay Hill.  Somehow it belonged to Tyrrell Hatton | Golf News and Tour Information |  Golf Digest

Tyrrel Hatton (+1800, $10,000)

If Matt Every can repeat his title defense here at Bay Hill, there’s nothing stopping me from believing that Hatton can too. With his elite combination of Approach and consistency OTT, it’s no surprise to see Hatton has had such success at this track; he fits the profile perfectly. He’s also been lights out putting at Bay Hill, gaining at least 2 strokes putting in all 4 of his trips to this event.

I admittedly do not follow the Euro Tour closely, but a quick look at his recent results tell me he won an event just over a month ago and then followed that up two weeks later with a T6. His Ball Striking has been incredibly solid recently, and since the behemoth that was Winged Foot, Hatton has gained strokes both OTT and APP in his next 8 measured events between the PGA and Euro Tours. While the Fantasy National database doesn’t factor in the Euro data where he’s been on a tear, he still ranks #7 SG:BS. He’s also #1 in Total Proximity on Approach and #2 SG:P at Bay Hill in this field.

Hatton ranks better than average in all of my key stat categories this week, but it’s especially promising to see he’s one of only 3 players in this field to rank in the Top-40 in OTT, APP, BS, P, and Course History. Of all the names at the top of the board, Hatton comes in with the most well-rounded recent form and added benefit of proven course history.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (+2500, $9,800)

Matthew Fitzpatrick has a stupid face. There’s no way around that, and I’ve faded him for years based on that fact alone. But after walking away from the RSM Classic empty handed while watching Robert Streb’s equally as stupid face hoist a trophy, I’ve started to swallow my pride and take a more analytical approach. So beyond face value, I don’t see any reason not to play Rat Fitzpatrick. Woops, I mean Matt!

Fitzpatrick is basically a carbon copy of Hatton for me in that both Brits are better than field average in the key categories and rank Top 40 in the most important of those categories. He has a win under his belt on the Euro Tour just 3 months ago at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, and is riding in with hot form coming off of 3 straight T20 finishes. Though not the stellar Ball Striker that Hatton is, Fitz holds his own, ranking #11 in SG: APP and #9 SG: T2G, and especially excels Putting, where he ranks #5 on Bermuda grass, and #1 at the API.

Fitzpatrick consistently delivers at The API with 3 T13s-or-better in the last 4 years. Expect him to be hungry for the title this time around after a few close calls to continue the International champion trend.

Francesco Molinari (+3000, $8,700)

If we play word association with Francesco Molinari right now, I think most people’s minds go straight to his topped drive at Pebble Beach three weeks ago. And the next visual that pops into my head is him dunking it into Rae’s Creek at the 2019 Masters. Molinari is such a solid player, especially with his Ball Striking, it’s too bad his reputation’s been marred recently by all the misfortune.

While everyone is still pointing and laughing about Molinari’s duffed tee shot, I’ve already turned the page to see the all the good in his recent form. He finished T8 last we saw him at The Genesis and has 3 T10 finishes in his last 4 events. Since returning to the Tour last October at the Shriners after taking an extended break post-COVID, Molinari has gained strokes T2G and OTT in 5 of his 6 measured events. If you remove the AT&T Pro-Am to spare Francesco of the embarrassment, he ranks 11th SG: APP, 5th SG: T2G, and 9th SG: TOT.

Recent form aside, let’s not forget that Francesco Molinari is completely unflappable at Bay Hill. In 7 career trips here, he’s never finished worse than T34. He has 4 T10s here, including a victory the very last time he showed up on these grounds in 2019. As a stakeholder in Molinari Major Futures throughout 2021, I tend to blindly support him, trying to will back to life his old form. I think that’s been working so far, because we are seeing plenty of flashes of vintage Francesco as of late.

Fades

PGA Tour pro tells vintage Jordan Spieth story from junior days

Rory McIlroy (+850, $11,500)

Rory has definitely shown signs that he is starting to turn a corner with his game, and there’s no doubt that a return to his home residence state of Florida will do him some good, especially as he preps his game to complete the career slam at The Masters next month. But as the +850 favorite and highest-priced player on Draft Kings, I’m not willing to pay that price and hope that this is the moment his whole game finally clicks. At this price, anything but 1st place is a disappointment, and there are cheaper players like Hovland, Reed, and Hatton who come into this event with more recent wins and established all-around form.

Sure, Rory is a defending champion and course killer here. But whenever I weight Course History, I always compare recent form coming into the event in prior year’s to what we are seeing this time around. Over the last 24 rounds, Rory ranks a mediocre 61st in SG: APP and 51st in Putting. Not to overlook his #1 OTT rank, but that’s heavily weighted by his Distance, and masks the fast that he is 91st in this Field in Driving accuracy, which could present problems given the amount of water on this course.

Rory has just one T5 on Tour since the 2020 API. This is not a price I’m willing to pay in the hope he can land just his second since then.

Bryson DeChambeau (+1200, $11,000)

I got over excited to play Bryson at The Genesis, thinking he was going to hit irons onto the short Par 4 10th, make a few Eagles, and separate from the pack. I’m not going to make the same mistake twice while everyone else fantasizes about Bryson driving the horseshoe Par 5 6th.

Bryson’s irons are bad right now. He’s gone 5 straight events since The Shriners last October without gaining strokes on Approach and ranks 49th in this field SG: APP. While he’s shown consistent success at this event over his career, his driver is also as inaccurate as it’s ever been, ranking 115th in Driving Accuracy in this field. Given the number of hazards on this course and higher likelihood of wind compared The Concession last week, I don’t expect Bryson to fare much better than his T22 finish at the WGC Workday last week.

Jordan Spieth (+1800, $9,300)

I faded Jordan Spieth at The AT&T Pro-Am on the hypothesis that he could only play well in front of a crowd to distract himself from his own thoughts, and I was very wrong to do that. The truth is, however, that Pebble Beach was the perfect course to mask Spieth’s driving flaws, as you can get away with clubbing down to 3-woods and long irons off the tee there to play positional golf. That is very much not the case at The API. Despite his resurgence, he still ranks #106 SG: OTT and #43 SG: APP over his last 24 rounds. Fairway-to-green, I love what I’ve been seeing from Spieth lately. But his recent driving form makes me question how many fairways he’ll actually be playing from, and with this being his first ever trip to Bay Hill, it’s hard for me to be bullish with so many other proven players at the API around him.

Spieth is +210 to miss the cut this week, and if this course requires him to take out the driver as much as I think it should, it’s sounding like it could be an early exit.