The PGA TOUR season continues its Florida stretch with the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.  Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau is still recovering from multiple injuries and will not be available to attempt a repeat.  Still, there are plenty of big names available for this year’s event.  That includes the likes of John Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Viktor Holland, Scottie Scheffler, Hideki Matsuyama, and many more.  To afford the aforementioned big names (all $10,000 or more on DraftKings), you’ll need to pepper in some potential diamonds in the rough.  This leads me to my PGA DFS Arnold Palmer Invitational Sleepers, a list that outlines cheaper DraftKings alternatives, as well as their long-shot odds to win (via DraftKings Sportsbook).  For fun, I’ll provide my One and Done pick, as well.

So grab your favorite red cardigan – or perhaps a sweater vest, as it’s starting to get warmer – and prepare for what is likely to be a dandy of a tournament.

Oh, and obviously, the term “SLEEPER” can be interpreted in a number of different ways.  In this case, it’s the lower cost players that stand out in key statistical areas, specifically the 6K Range on DraftKings.  Each also fits as a potential long-shot for a top ten (or better).  Some crazier than others.

Before I shift to this week’s picks, a few additional notes on Bay Hill and the API:

  • 2021 winner Bryson DeChambeau gained 12.4 strokes Tee to Green, 7.0 strokes Off the Tee, 4.2 strokes on approach, and 2.7 strokes putting.  Overall, a very balanced performance.
  • During his 2020 victory at Bay Hill, Tyrrell Hatton gained 10.3 strokes Tee to Green, 7.3 strokes on approach, and 3.4 strokes putting.
  • Four of the six toughest holes are Par 4’s between 450-500 yards in length.
  • The Par 3’s play quite difficult here.  Two are among the toughest holes on the course, per Fantasy National.  Three of the Par 3’s (all 215 yards-plus in length) yielded a birdie rate under 9%.
  • As briefly outlined by the last two champions, SG: Approach is key here, but so is SG: Off the Tee and a consistent overall performance Tee to Green.
  • GIR numbers are pretty important for top finishers, per Fantasy National.
  • The cut line is consistently over par, so a focus on players who excel at Bay Hill (and/or on difficult courses) is definitely a good idea.
  • The weather forecast looks pretty consistent, with highs in the upper 80’s and lows mostly in the 60’s.  Winds can pick up here and are expected to be in the 10-15mph range Friday through Sunday.  Little to no rain is expected at the current time.

To land on my favorite DFS Arnold Palmer Invitational Sleepers, I ran a few models on Fantasy National, featuring my favorite stats for the event.  Most stats that I outline cover a player’s last 36 rounds versus the field.  Based off that data, here are my top 6K range sleepers on DraftKings, accompanied by their odds to win the event (via DraftKings Sportsbook).  I follow that with my One and Done pick for the week:

PGA DFS Arnold Palmer Invitational Sleepers: 6K DraftKings Plays and Odds

Aaron Rai (DK: $6,600, WINNER +25000, Top 5 +4000, Top 10 +1600)

Rai has faltered a bit over the last month, with a 61st place finish being his best over the last three events.  Still, he has gained strokes on approach in three of four events (and six of eight).  He finished 2021 with three straight top 20 finishes and had a 6th place finish at the Farmers back in January.  He fares well on difficult venues, ranking 24th in the field in total strokes gained (last 36 rounds, via Fantasy National).  He is new to Bay Hill and struggles with his putting.  Other than that, Rai holds his own in other key statistical categories.  That includes ranking 31st in SG: Off the Tee and 35th in the field in GIR Gained (both over his last 36 rounds played). 

Carlos Ortiz (DK: $6,900, WINNER +10000, Top 5 +2200, Top 10 +1000)

Ortiz’s game has been streaky at best, but he has gained on approach in his last two events.  He has also gained strokes putting in three straight events.  He finished 2021 with a runner-up finish at Mayakoba and a 25th place finish at the CJ Cup.  The 2022 season has seen three straight made cuts, but no finish better than his T33 at the Phoenix Open.  Over his last 36 rounds played (via Fantasy National), Carlos Ortiz ranks 24th in the field in SG: Approach and 18th in total strokes gained at difficult venues.  He is also 15th in SG: Putting on Bermuda greens.  

Alex Smalley (DK: $6,400, WINNER +25000, Top 5 +4000, Top 10 +1600)

He’s good enough, he’s strong enough, and gosh darnit, people like him?  SNL references aside, Smalley is an interesting option.  This is his first run at Bay Hill.  As for recent form, he has made four of five cuts, but a T25 at The Amex was his top performance.  Statistically, Bermuda greens are his preferred surface and the only where he has gained strokes putting.  He’ll need to improve his approach game.  While Smalley has gained strokes off the tee in five straight events, he has lost strokes on approach in four of his last five.  He has gained strokes putting in four of five, so a strong round with his irons and there could be a surprise result this week.

Matt Wallace (DK: $6,400, WINNER +20000, Top 5 +3500, Top 10 +1400)

Other players I considered were certainly ranked higher in statistical models.  Wallace’s recent form isn’t there, I’ll warn you of that.  In two February starts, he’s lost 9.2 strokes on approach.  That led to missed cuts at both the Genesis and Phoenix Open.  Still, the year 2021 featured six top 20 finishes.  He performs well at difficult venues (17th in the field in total strokes gained over his last 36 rounds).  Also, what’s most intriguing is how Wallace has performed at Bay Hill.  Matt Wallace finished as follows at the API over the last three years: T18, T24, T6.  So, if you believe that a favorite venue can help right the ship for a talented player, then Wallace is your guy.  It’s a stretch, but stranger things have happened. 

Others I Considered:

  • Aaron Wise, Davis Thompson, and Patrick Rodgers


2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational One and Done Pick

Matthew Fitzpatrick (DK: $9,200, WINNER +2000, Top 5 +400, Top 10 +200)

The recent illness is concerning, but that was also the case last week when I was concerned over Daniel Berger’s injury.  In the end, I should have been worried about Berger’s Sunday collapse.  As for Fitzpatrick, he was my gut pick prior to running any statistical models.  After running them, I was still convinced.  Where Rory and Viktor ranked higher, I was concerned about Hovland’s recent performances at Bay Hill (no better than T40).  Rory is steady here, but I’d rather consider him for other events.

As for Matthew Fitzpatrick, he provides the right balance of stats, recent finishes, and performances at the API.  First, Fitzpatrick is lights out on Bermuda greens.  Over his last 36 rounds played, he ranks first in the field in strokes gained on Bermuda greens.  He also ranks 5th in SG: Off the Tee and 11th in strokes gained at Difficult venues.  He didn’t rank super high in the SG: Approach category, but he has gained on approach in three straight measured events, including at the Phoenix Open and at Pebble Beach.  At these two events, he finished T10 and T6.  Combine that with three straight top ten finishes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and there are many reasons to consider him this week.  In the end, I couldn’t be swayed.

Others I Considered:

  • Viktor Hovland and Rory McIlroy


Who do you have as your favorite PGA DFS Arnold Palmer Invitational Sleepers?  How about your favorite long-shot plays or One and Done picks?

Chime in with your favorite picks below.  Either that or stop by to praise or poke fun at mine.

Best of luck and as always, thank you for visiting The Wife Hates Sports!

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