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  • Writer's pictureNate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Out of the Rough: Arnold Palmer Invitational (2024)


The PGA Tour turns its attention to the first of two back-to-back Signature Events with a stop first at the Bay Hill Club for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.


Last week’s Cognizant Classic was formally part of this tougher stretch of tournaments on the PGA schedule but with the changes we saw, it ended up more of a birdie-fest than anything.


Florida will be a buzz as following the Arnold Palmer Invitational is another Signature Event known as the “Fifth Major” in THE PLAYERS Championship.


Prior to last year’s Elevated Event status of this event, the API as it’s known, used to draw smaller fields due to it being played annually the week prior to THE PLAYERS.


However, with a continued Elevated Status tag, the majority of the Tour’s best will be teeing it up this week.


This week also serves as the fourth-of-eight Signature Events on the PGA Tour’s schedule.


The Field

With the Elevated Event status, as previously mentioned, the majority of the Tour’s best will be in attendance this week.


Of those qualified that will not be attending this week are Tony Finau, Ryan Fox and Min Woo Lee.


The field sits at just 69-players which removes the possibility for a true Cinderella story just as we saw a year ago when Kurt Kitayama held off the likes of Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Cantlay to secure the 2023 title.


Kitayama will be back this week in an attempt to make it back-to-back API championships.


The field is headlined by World No. 1 Scheffler and No. 2 McIlroy who both are former champions of this event.


Beyond those two names, we’ll see the familiar names that we have become accustomed to seeing during these Elevated Events.


Jason Day joins Kitayama, Scheffler and McIlroy as the only other former champion in this week’s field.


The Course

Bay Hill Club & Lodge was purchased by Arnold Palmer in 1974 and the event has used his name since 2007.


Bay Hill Club & Lodge plays at a lengthy 7,400 yards and par 72.


It joins the Tour’s “grinder” portion of the schedule as making par at most holes will be considered a good score.


To put into perspective how difficult this course can be, over the last seven years, only Kevin Chappell has registered four rounds in the 60s in the same event.


We’ll see plenty of approach shots from 200-plus yards due to the length of the course. Bombers off the tee too will get a leg up, getting down the fairways.


As well as getting off the tee with distance, accuracy too will be key. Bay hill is known for its notoriously thick rough. Missing the fairway will be detrimental this week.


Bay Hill features fast and firm Bermuda greens. Approach shots will be taken with a “bump-and-run” approach as high-arching shots tend to bounce off the firm greens.


The course also features an extensive amount of penalty areas and water is in play on nine of the holes. It too is littered with sand traps.


The Arnold Palmer Invitational has caused the highest percentage of penalty strokes in three of the last five years.


The weather will almost certainly be a factor this week as well. Two years ago the weather took a turn for the worse over the weekend, causing the event to turn into a scrambling contest with the greens nearly becoming impossible to reach in regulation.


In years where weather is a factor, the median score has fallen to plus-five.


The Weather

If you’re sick of weather impacted events on the PGA Tour, you may want to look away. As of the time of writing this, there are chances for isolated thunderstorms on Saturday and a 50-percent chance of precipitation on Sunday. Thursday and Friday look clear at this point without a chance of precipitation and temperatures in the low-to-mid 80’s. Winds will begin to climb on Friday, going from five miles-per-hour on Thursday to 11 miles-per-hour on Friday. Winds will continue to climb heading into the weekend, reaching 15 miles-per-hour on Saturday with the chances of isolated thunderstorms. The winds will go down to nine miles-per-hour on Sunday. Again, just as I said last week, the winds are unpredictable here at Bay Hill and will always be a factor, no matter what the forecast may suggest.


Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)

  • Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) / Average Driving Distance

  • Proximity to the Hole From 200+ Yards

  • Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)

  • Strokes Gained: Putting Bermuda (SG: PUTT Bermuda)

  • Bogey Avoidance

  • Average Par 5 Scoring

  • Sand Saves Percentage

  • Scrambling

  • Ball Striking


DFS Suggestions

$10,000+

I don’t often do this but I’m going to the clear top of this price range and suggesting Scottie Scheffler ($11,300.) As my Out of the Rough co-host Jake Friedman argues, the guys at the clear top of the pricing often draw less ownership as people tend to steer away. With that being said, I have to play Scheffler this week. He’s going to win sooner-or-later, it’s simply going to happen. He’s a former champion of this event, winning in 2022. He also placed T4th here a season ago and in his only other outing, in 2020, placed T15th. On the season he has gone T3rd at the WM Phoenix Open, T5th at The Sentry Tournament of Champions, T6th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, T10th at The Genesis Invitational and T17th at The American Express. I think a top-five is a darn near lock for Scheffler. He is also currently second on Tour in SG: APP, fifth in bogey avoidance, ninth in SG: OTT, 14th in par five average scoring, 23rd in SG: ATG, 35th in scrambling, 57th in ball striking, 79th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards and 126th in average driving distance. Now, we know he has some red flags, namely on the greens as he ranks 169th in SG: PUTT Bermuda but he is also bad from the sand, as he ranks 184th in sand saves percentage. 


$9,000-$9,900

My overall favorite once again this week is Xander Scahuffele ($9,800.) Schauffele is currently second on Tour in bogey avoidance, fifth in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, tenth in SG: OTT, 11th in ball striking, 13th in scrambling, 16th in SG: APP, 19th in SG: ATG, 21st in par five average scoring, 42nd in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 57th in average driving distance and 124th in sand saves percentage. He tops my model this week by a large margin actually. He’s played this event just twice prior, placing T39th last year and T24th in 2020. On the season he placed T3rd at The American Express, T4th at The Genesis Invitational, T9th at the Farmers Insurance Open and T10th at The Sentry Tournament of Champions. Like Scheffler, a win is coming for Schauffele. We can only hope it’s this week as I’m playing two units on him at +1400. For those reading this as lines change, I’m comfortable playing him down to +1200. Also consider Sam Burns ($9,300.) Burns is the second name on my model this week. He’s currently first on Tour in both bogey avoidance and scrambling, fifth in both par five average scoring and ball striking, eighth in SG: OTT, 19th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 23rd in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 26th in average driving distance, 53rd in SG: APP and 106th in sand saves percentage. His downfall comes in the form of a 154th placement in SG: ATG. However, he has shown improvement from event-to-event on the season, getting close to even in his last outing at The Genesis. On the season he placed T3rd at the WM Phoenix Open, T6th at The American Express, tenth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and T10th at The Genesis Invitational. He has played in this event each of the last six years, highlighted by a T9th in 2022. I’m playing two units on him at +2200 and would continue to play him at +1800.


$8,000-$8,900

This isn’t a price range I’ll spend a lot of time in this week but there are some decent options. First up we have Wyndham Clark ($8,500.) Clark has not had much success here at Bay Hill, playing three times with the best finish of T34th a year ago. However, Clark is a much better golfer now that he ever has been. On the season he has a victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He’s currently sixth on Tour in par five average scoring, seventh in sand saves percentage, 22nd in average driving distance, 46th in bogey avoidance, 52nd in SG: OTT, 54th in SG: APP, 58th in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 61st in ball striking, 91st in SG: ATG, 95th in scrambling and 120th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards. Also consider former API Champion Jason Day ($8,200.) Day is a guy who loves this course and event. Dating back to 2010, he’s played this event eight times. In those eight events he’s placed in the top 25 in six of them. He won it in 2016 and placed T10th here a year ago. He’s also in some great form, placing T6th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and ninth at The Genesis Invitational in his last two outings. He’s currently fourth on Tour in SG: ATG, 17th in bogey avoidance, 26th in par five average scoring, 32nd in scrambling, 51st in SG: APP, 64th in average driving distance, 78th in SG: OTT, 79th in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 86th in sand saves percentage and 103rd in ball striking. The 168th placement in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards scares me a bit but the proven track record here helps ease those worries.


$7,000-$7,900

Now this price range I could talk about 12 different guys. The first of which will be Matthieu Pavon ($7,900.) Pavon is currently first on the entire Tour in SG: APP. He is also ninth in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 14th in bogey avoidance, 20th in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 27th in ball striking, 34th in scrambling, 35th in SG: OTT, 47th in sand saves percentage, 66th in average driving distance, 71st in par five average scoring and 123rd in SG: ATG. He will be making his API debut this week. He of course won the Farmers Insurance Open this season and followed that up with a third place finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He also placed T7th at the Sony Open in Hawaii and T28th last week at the Cognizant Classic. I’m playing a unit on him at +10000 and would be just fine playing him down to +7500. Also consider last year’s winner, Kurt Kitayama ($7,300.) Kitayama is currently second on Tour in scrambling, ninth in bogey avoidance, 23rd in SG: APP, 28th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 36th in SG: OTT, 44th in par five average scoring, 53rd in average driving distance, 107th in ball striking, 109th in SG: ATG, 116th in SG: PUTT Bermuda and 138th in sand saves percentage. He of course is the defending champion for a reason. On the season he placed T8th at the WM Phoenix Open. I’m playing a unit on him at +8000 and would play him down to +7500.


$6,900-

My first play here is Patrick Rodgers ($6,500.) Rodgers has had some great showings this season, most recently placing T6th at the Mexico Open at Vidanta. He also placed T9th at the Farmers Insurance Open and T14th at The Sentry Tournament of Champions. Prior to a missed cut last year, Rodgers had made the cut here in five consecutive years, highlighted by a T7th in 2018. He is currently 14th on Tour in ball striking, 25th in bogey avoidance, 26th in average driving distance, 29th in SG: OTT, 35th in par five average scoring, 46th in SG: ATG, 52nd in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 75th in sand saves percentage, 84th in scrambling, 105th in SG: APP and 107th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards. Also consider Webb Simpson ($6,000.) We’ve seen Simpson just twice on Tour this season and they haven’t been great finishes. Webb finished T24th here last year, playing this event for the first time since 2017. He has made the cut more than he has missed it and placed T11th in 2009. On Tour he is currently 12th in sand saves percentage, 14th in par five average scoring, 19th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 46th in scrambling, 47th in bogey avoidance, 53rd in SG: OTT, 58th in SG: APP, 71st in ball striking, 99th in average driving distance, 105th in SG: ATG and 128th in SG: PUTT Bermuda. Not a bad resume for someone at the bottom of this price range for sure.


Betting Card

  • Xander Schauffele (+1400) - 2u

  • Sam Burns (+2200) - 2u

  • Adam Scott (+5000) - 1u

  • Kurt Kitayama (+8000) - 1u

  • Matthieu Pavon (+10000) - 1u

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