The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the Fantasy Labs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
Unlike last week at the Honda Classic, the Arnold Palmer Invitational will feature a stacked field with the likes of Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, etc. You get the point. The field is just 123 players this week, but top 70 and ties all still make the cut, so around 58% of the golfers will make it to the weekend.
Let’s dive in!
As always, I backtested various metrics in our PGA Models to find out which have been the most valuable at Bay Hill. Per our Trends tool, here’s how the top 20% of golfers in various metrics have done at this course (in Plus/Minus valuation).
Historically, this course has yielded averages of 51.27 DraftKings points and a +1.61 Plus/Minus with a 53% Consistency Rating to the field.
I’m listing only those metrics that tested positively above the baseline:
- Long-Term Greens In Regulation: +7.34
- Recent Par-5 Scoring: +6.57
- Long-Term Driving Distance: +6.37
- Recent Eagles: +4.97
- Recent Driving Distance: +4.68
- Long-Term Par-5 Scoring: +4.45
- Recent Birdies: +4.32
- Long-Term Par-4 Scoring: +4.26
- Long-Term Tournament Count: +4.22
- Long-Term Eagles: +4.16
- Long-Term Bogeys: +3.12
- Recent Adjusted Round Score: +2.88
- Long-Term Birdies: +2.79
- Long-Term Missed Cuts: +2.01
- Long-Term Scrambling: +1.83
- Recent Putts Per Round: +1.58
- Long-Term Driving Accuracy: +1.41
- Long-Term Par-3 Scoring: +1.35
- Long-Term Adjusted Round Score: +1.07
- Recent Bogeys: +1.06
- Recent Scrambling: +0.92
- Long-Term Putts Per Round: +0.63
- Recent Greens in Regulation: +0.04
Bay Hill is a lengthy par 72, 7,454-yard course, so bombers will have a bit of an edge here, and that shows ups in metrics I backtested with both Long-Term (LT) and recent Driving Distance (DD) backtesting favorably.
The biggest metric that stands out is greens in regulation (GIR), so players’ approach to the green will be crucial here. Normally when GIR is important, I also like to look at Strokes Gained: Approach for good measure.
Key metrics to focus on: GIR, Driving Distance, Birdie or better scoring, Par-4 and Par-5 scoring.
And as usual, I like Long-Term and Recent Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score) as a catch-all metric.
Best DFS Plays at 2019 Honda Classic
$10,000 and Above (DraftKings Pricing)
With the loaded field at the API, you can comfortably fit in any of the top-priced guys over $10,000. Those golfers include: Rory McIlroy ($11,400 DraftKings; $12,200 FanDuel), Justin Rose ($10,700 DraftKings; $12,100 FanDuel), Rickie Fowler ($10,400 DraftKings; $11,500 FanDuel) and Brooks Koepka ($10,200 DraftKings; $11,400 FanDuel).
I don’t have an issue starting any of these guys, but I’m drawn to Rose in particular. Not only does he lead this price range in LT Adj Rd Score (67.6), birdies per tournament and adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s, but he leads the entire field in those categories — and he is $700 cheaper than Rory.
Rose’s -3.1 adjusted strokes on par 4s is truly amazing considering it’s a full stroke better than Fowler, who has the second-best mark in that metric.
This price range is loaded and you can fit two or three of these golfers into your lineup if choosing to go with a balanced build.
Jason Day ($9,900 DraftKigs; $11,700 FanDuel) leads this tier with 16.7 birdies per tournament and -1.9 adjusted strokes on par 4s. He’s also solid on par 5s, averaging -5.3 adjusted strokes on them over the past 75 weeks.
The main issue with Day is he relies on his putter (28.4 Putts Per Round) a lot, so if his putter runs cold, his scores may struggle. That said, he still owns three top-13 finishes this season despite ranking 149th in Strokes Gained: Approach this season.
Bryson DeChambeau ($9,700 DraftKings; $11,200) had been on fire with four top-15 finishes before his 56th-place finish at WGC-Mexico. I’d like to think he can bounce back in this one after his week off. Over the past 75 weeks, he’s sporting just an 8% missed-cut rate and his -5.8 adjusted strokes on par 5s in that timeframe trails only Rose and Steve Stricker.
Hideki Matsuyama ($9,300 DraftKings; $11,000 FanDuel) is a solid fit for Bay Hill with his 305-yard LT DD and 70.4% of GIR over the past 75 weeks. He’s also in excellent recent form with his 67.4 recent Adj Rd Score — the third-best mark in the field. Moreover, Deki’s approach game has been strong this season, ranking fifth in Strokes Gained: Approach.
Tommy Fleetwood ($9,100 DraftKings; $10,600 FanDuel) leads the field in GIR (72.9%) over the past 75 weeks, he also possesses top-five marks in birdies per tournament and adjusted strokes on par 5s.
Jason Kokrak ($8,300 DraftKings; $9,500 FanDuel) continues to play quite well. He has made the cut in his last 14 events, with his last missed cut happening in July of last year. Kokrak is a good fit for the course, sporting a 308.9-yard LT DD and hitting 70.5% of GIR. His approach game has also been great this year, ranking seventh in Strokes Gained: Approach.
Lucas Glover ($8,200 DraftKings; $10,000 FanDuel) is on a heater with his three top-12s in his past four tournaments. His current odds indicates he’s underpriced, sporting the 13th-best odds but is priced as the No. 19 golfer on DraftKings.
Ian Poulter ($8,000 DraftKings; $10,100 FanDuel) leads this tier with his 15.3 birdies per tournament and -5.3 adjusted strokes on par 5s over the past 75 weeks. He’s the only golfer in this pricing tier who is averaging over 15.0 birdies per tournament and more than -5.0 adjusted strokes on par 5s in that timeframe. Poulter has been tearing it up of late, with four-straight top-six finishes over his past four events.
Louis Oosthuizen ($7,900 DraftKings; $10,100 FanDuel) is probably a better tournament than cash play. His recent form leaves much to be desired, but he owns the 16th-best LT Adj Rd Score but is priced as the No. 24 golfer on DraftKings. Oost is reasonably long of the tee with his 302.6-yard LT DD and has hit 67.9% of GIR in that same timeframe.
He missed the cut at Bay Hill last year, but his putting was awful, averaging 32.0 Putts Per Round (PPR). However, he’s also somewhat of a bargain when you factor in his price with his LT Adj Rd Score and odds to win — checking in with the 14th-best odds.
Zach Johnson ($7,700 DraftKings; $9,800 FanDuel) and Adam Hadwin ($7,700 DraftKings; $9,300 FanDuel) don’t have much length off the tee, but they’ve each shown success at Bay Hill in the past. They’re also solid cut-makers, sporting missed-cut rates of 15% and 14%, respectively.
Hao-Tong Li’s ($7,400 DraftKings; $9,400 FanDuel) 15.0 birdies per tournament leads this pricing tier. He’s in great form with his 67.6 recent Adj Rd Score despite hitting just 62.5% of GIR in that timeframe. However, his long-term marks are excellent, hitting 68.3% of GIR and averaging -4.8 adjusted strokes on par 5s while missing just 12% of cuts.
$6,900 and Below
Update: Gooch has withdrawn from the API.
Talor Gooch ($6,800 DraftKings; $8,800 FanDuel) is mildly intriguing if you find yourself needing a scrub value. He owns two missed cuts this season, but he’s also finished inside the top 20 in his other three tournaments, including two top-fours. None of his metrics jump off the page, which is par for the course in this price range. However, he does rank fourth in Strokes Gained: Approach this year.
Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more golf coverage!
Pictured above: Hideki Matsuyama
Photo credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports