After last week’s visit to the Swamp, the PGA Tour makes the short trek to Orlando for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club. With four reachable par 5s, four par 3s over 200 yards, and four par 4s 460 yards or longer, Bay Hill forces players to hit about 12 mid- to long iron approaches. The API is no wedge fest.
So let’s consider some players who have what it takes on longer approaches:
Rory McIlroy $11,800
You may think this is an overly obvious pick, but Rory is actually one of the best values on the board. At 5/1 to win, he is by far the best player at Bay Hill; the closest to him is Fleetwood at 16/1. The DraftKings pricing algorithm often under-values players who are a cut above the rest of the field. This week, McIlroy’s combination of consistency and upside makes him a no-brainer for me. In his past three appearances at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he has finished sixth, first, and fourth. He has placed fifth or better in each of his past six starts. Furthermore, he’s No. 1 in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, No. 5 in Approach, and No. 1 in par-3 scoring over 200 yards. What else do you need to know?
Collin Morikawa $8,400
$8,400 is a great price for the top iron player in the field. Morikawa has gained strokes on approach in all but one event as a professional, and partly for that reason, he has yet to miss a cut. Bay Hill has always favored elite ball-strikers, so I expect Morikawa to be in contention this weekend.
Stenson is your horse for a course. Over the past eight years, he has seven top-17 finishes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, including four top fives. For his entire career, Stenson has been one of the world’s best iron players—especially long irons—so it’s no surprise that he has done well at Bay Hill. There are only one or two other spots where you would want to use him this year, so he is a great option this week.
The 2017 champion, Leishman has an obvious affinity for the API. He has finished 23rd or better in each of the past four years. His high ball flight with his long irons gives him an edge at Bay Hill, especially when the greens firm up later in the tournament. This season, Leishman already has a win under his belt and will be looking to add more hardware to the trophy case.