Arnold Palmer Invitational Recap

2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational Tournament Recap: Bryson Bombards Bay Hill

A decent, but hardly profitable week is in the books. The card and DFS lineups really were an arms length away from making any noise through and through this week, resulting in a bunch of T10s and not much else to show for it.

Bay Hill reared its ugly head for the second year in a row, as players fought to survive at or under Par on Sunday. In the end, a final round 1-under 71 was enough for Bryson DeChambeau to edge past Lee Westwood and bring the Arnold Palmer Invitational title back to US soil for the first time since Matt Every’s win in 2015. The story this week was all about Bryson overpowering the golf course, and similar to his previous win at Winged Foot, he showed that if everyone is playing their approaches from thick rough, it’s best to do so 50 yards closer to the hole than the field. To that point, this tournament will be remembered as the time Bryson cleared the water on the Par 5 6th, twice putting himself in position for a 70-yard approach in two (he made Birdie each of those times).

Bryson’s theatrics aside, we also saw some encouraging, well-rounded play from Corey Conners, who slowly continues to become more competent in his short game (granted he would have won this tournament if he was able to sink a couple more 10-footers). Jordan Spieth has also continued his Fairway-to-Green hot streak. He was in contention all week before fizzling out on Sunday, but with another long distance hole out, this time a hole in one, he’s shown that almost all the pieces of his vintage form are finally back.

Okay enough about the players, let’s talk about how I did.

Outrights

  • Matthew Fitzpatrick +2500: -3 (T10)
  • Francesco Molinari +3000: +8 (MC)
  • Jason Kokrak +4900: -4 (T8)
  • Sam Burns +5000: +5 (MC)
  • Charley Hoffman +12000: -3 (T10)
  • Henrik Norlander +14000: +10 (71)
  • Matthew NeSmith +16000: +4 (MC)

Matchups (Season Total: 15-12-1)

  • Matthew NeSmith -112 > Sebastian Munoz (L)
  • Viktor Hovland -112 > Bryson DeChambeau (L)
  • Cameron Davis -137 > Keegan Bradley (L)

One & Done

  • Paul Casey: T10

The Good

All of the key stats and research emphatically gave me three names as must plays this week: Tyrrel Hatton (T21), Matthew Fitzpatrick (T10), and Charley Hoffman (T10). While none of these three ever made a serious run at winning the tournament this week, they all put themselves in position to win heading into Sunday before the weather got the best of them. While I was hoping for an outright win from one of these guys, this core put me in a fine position to do some damage in DFS. Additionally, Chris Kirk (T8) and Corey Conners (3) were both featured in Bombs & Values and proved to be two of the best values on the board by tournament’s end.

In terms of OAD, I’m still in a deep hole, and a T10 from Paul Casey isn’t going to dig me out of it, but it does help provide some leverage over popular players like Francesco Molinari, Sam Burns, and Patrick Reed, who failed to make the cut.

The Bad

There was a lot of bad. The Matchups were a clean 0-3 sweep, which means for the last 4 weeks I’ve gone back and forth either 3-0 or 0-3 each time. I had a lot of confidence in my card and that confidence was built on the foundation that Bryson, Rory, and Spieth (all written up as Fades) would not pose a threat to win, and open the door for the secondary tiered players. And uh, yeah…that didn’t happen! In the outright business, I always kind of hope that if my picks don’t win, somebody sub-20/1 does, because it is rarely worth my units to give myself exposure there. So that at least is a positive.

In terms of values, I had a lot of confidence this week in NeSmith, Norlander, and Cam Davis, and they all did not bring their A-game. Unfortunately all of my good lineups had at least one of these values in there and I did not have a combination of Hoffman + Kirk in any of my top lineups. The best 6-man team I could have assembled with my player core would have been Conners, Kirk, Hoffman, Fitzpatrick, Casey, Kokrak. Just didn’t create enough lineups to get to that combo this week.

Closing Thoughts

Never feels great to leave a week empty handed, but it does feel great knowing that THE PLAYERS is next week, and the Tournament Preview is already live. In hindsight, I probably put too much of an emphasis on Driving Accuracy here, which is why I overlooked Bryson, but even still, the Accurate Ball Striker profile I was looking for did fit Westwood and Conners’ styles. Bryson is starting to establish himself as a must-play on courses with thick/long, penal rough, as he proved again this week that he can muscle wedges onto the green from the rough on the same holes that mere mortals are struggling to reach with a mid-iron. He still has room to improve with his wedges, which is frightening, and it’ll be interesting to watch how he follows this performance up next week at THE PLAYERS.