Arnold Palmer Invitational Recap
Francesco Molinaro rode a hot Sunday putter all the way to the winner’s circle this past weekend in Orlando. After a subpar round on Saturday that left him 5 strokes behind the leader and seemingly out of contention, Molinari fired an 8 under 64 on Sunday to finish at 12 under par. He won the tournament by 2 shots over 3rd round leader Matthew Fitzpatrick. Sungae Im, Tommy Fleetwood, and Rafa Cabrera-Bello finished in a tie for 3rd at 9 under par. Molinari has played less tournament golf than almost anyone so far in 2019, having entered only 2 events prior to last week’s tournament. Clearly it didn’t take long for him to regain his great form from last year, though. Along with the hot putting stroke, Molinari finished the week 2nd in SG: OFF THE TEE at Bay Hill. Molinari entered the tournament at odds of 35 to 1.
The Players Championship Preview
Staying in the state of Florida, the PGA Tour moves to Ponte Vedro Beach for the event commonly referred to as “the 5th major”. The Players Championship is played at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass and annually features one of the very best fields in golf. There will be 144 players teeing it up, and the standard cut rule of top 70 and ties will apply after the 2nd round. Unless an injury pops up, each of the top 50 players in the world will be in action this week.
Webb Simpson is the defending champion. After a 2nd round 63 last year, nobody was able to get close on the weekend as he finished at 18 under par and won by 4 strokes. Charl Schwartzel, Xander Schauffele, and Jimmy Walker all tied for 2nd at 14 under par. Simpson won the tournament while leading the field in driving accuracy and finishing last in driving distance during the week. The winning score has been between 10 under and 18 under par each year dating back to 2009. The other winners of this event over the past 7 years are Si Woo Kim, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Martin Kaymer, Tiger Woods, and Matt Kuchar.
Some tournament and course details are shown below.
· Par 72
· 7,189 yards
· Bermudagrass greens
· Average difficulty ranking 18th over past 3 years (out of 50/51)
· Winner prize money $2.25M
TPC Sawgrass is more of an accuracy course than a distance course. Webb Simpson proved that last year. The key is to avoid the trouble. Everyone knows about the famous island green on hole 17, but there is water scatter all over the course. There are 17 water hazards and 88 bunkers. The greens are TifEagle bermudagrass and are overseeded with poa and bentgrass. As usual, they are expected to be fast this week. It’s worth nothing that the tournament is being played in March rather than May for the first time since 2006, thus meaning different conditions than in past years.
The early weather forecast does not include any precipitation, but does include some wind. Winds on Thursday are expected to be around 15 mph with gusts up to 20 mph. The rest of the week calls for winds around 10 mph gusting up to around 15 mph. The highs will be in the 70s on Thursday and Friday, but likely won’t get out of the 60s on the weekend.
Length is by no means a necessity this week at TPC Sawgrass. Although distance will help on the four par 5s, the main priority this week will be keeping the ball in play. That being said, I recommend leaning toward players that are sharp with their irons, especially over the past month or so. This tournament frequently produces high finishers that are in good form leading up to the event. Bogey avoidance is another key stat this week, as avoiding trouble is important to finding success at TPC Sawgrass. Being on bermudagrass again this week, be sure to take note of players that play well on this surface.
Golfers to consider for your lineups!
Hideki Matsuyama - $8,300
He has 4, count them 4 top 25 finishes here in 5 years! He is sitting on a 9.4x value across 6 starts this year and also comes in as #6 on our custom model specific for this course. He is also 1st in Proximity 200+ over the last 50 rounds and 9th in overall Proximity over his last 50.
Adam Scott - $8,200
Crushing this course finishing 11th, 6th, 12th, 38th and 38th over the last 5 years he also comes in as a very high #2 rank in our custom model. He is also a very impressive 1st and 5th in the two Par 5s on this course over his last 50 rounds.
Paul Casey - $7,900
Shocked at the price tag when I was scrolling through for my first look I immediately put a star by his name. Casey finished 22nd here in 2017 and 23rd in 2016. He is also in the top 20 in both of the Par 5s for this course. He is also sitting on a nice 10.5x average over his last 5 starts.
Keegan Bradley - $7,400
The last 3 years he has finished 7th, 60th and 35th. He is ranked 115th in the Par 5: 500-550’s over his last 50 rounds but he is also ranked 15th in the Par 5 550-600 so I’m less worried about that one stat. He is 17th in total proximity and 8th in SG: Approach and even comes in as #7 on our custom course specific model. A solid value in the $7k range.
STAT MONSTER SECTION:
HOT GOLFERS TO START THE YEAR: (Golfers who are providing the highest value to salary ratio since January 2019 and playing at least 4 tournaments.)
1. Trey Mullinax - $6,000 putting up 11.5x value across 6 starts.
2. Brian Stuard - $6,100 putting up 11.3x value across 6 starts.
3. Rafa Bello – $7,400 putting up 11.3x value across 4 starts.
4. Jason Kokrak - $6,700 putting up 11.2x value across 6 starts.
5. Michael Thompson - $7,200 putting up 11x value across 6 starts.
Average Finishes in 2019:
1. Rory Mcilroy - $10,800 – Average finish of 4.2 with 5 starts.
2. Justin Thomas - $11,100 – Average finish of 10.5 with 6 starts.
3. Xander Schauffele - $9,000 – Average finish of 13.0 with 5 starts.
4. Jon Rahm - $9,500 – Average finish of 13.8 with 6 starts.
5. Dustin Johnson - $11,400 – Average finish of 14.8 with 4 starts.
6. Charles Howell - $7,300 – Average finish of 15.3 with 7 starts.
7. Rafa Bello - $7,400 – Average finish of 17.3 with 4 starts.
PAR 5 MONSTERS: (Golfers who ranked high in last 50 rounds for Par 5 scoring.)
1. Gary Woodland (1st & 21st)
2. Justin Thomas (2nd & 4th)
3. Adam Scott (5th & 1st)
4. Brooks Koepka (10th & 6th)
5. Adam Hadwin (12th & 3rd)
6. Bubba Watson (15th & 6th)
CONSECUTIVE CUT STREAKS on PGA TOUR: (Golfers with the longest cut streaks.)
1. Gary Woodland – 21 cuts
2. Keegan Bradley – 18 cuts
3. Byeong Hun-An – 16 cuts
4. RafaBello – 16 cuts
5. Rickie Fowler – 16 cuts
6. Marc Leishman – 16 cuts
7. Fowler, Kokrak, Hideki and Webb – all tied with 15 cuts.
5 CONSECUTIVE CUT HERE: (Golfers with the highest consecutive cut streaks here.)
1. Adam Scott
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Zach Johnson
4. Sergio Garcia
5. Ian Poulter
DRAFTKINGS vs. FANDUEL Pricing Differences: (Largest price gaps. It should be noted that the average price on FD is much higher than DK but these are the biggest gaps.)
1. Gary Woodland - $7,500 on DK vs. $10,100 on FD.
2. Adam Scott - $8,200 on DK vs. $10,700 on FD.
3. Phil Mickelson - $7,900 on DK vs. $10,400 on FD.
4. Zach Johnson - $7,000 on DK vs. $9,400 on FD.
5. Rafa Bello - $7,400 on DK vs. $9,400 on FD.
Thank you for reading and good luck!