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Expert Picks: Arnold Palmer Invitational
Sean Zak and Ryan Asselta offer their fantasy golf  picks  for this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational.
By Jason Rouslin
Monday, March 12, 2018

Welcome to this week's edition of the Fantasy Six Pack, where we highlight six golfers to use in two popular fantasy golf platforms, DraftKings and FanDuel. On each, you must select six golfers for your lineup under a specific salary cap. (DraftKings $50,000, FanDuel $60,000). As a reminder, I'm a golf nut with a 1.3 handicap and a nose for analytics — according to Rotogrinders, I'm one of the top-10 daily fantasy golf players. The Arnold Palmer Invitational Championship is on tap, I'll be on site for the practice rounds! Follow me along on social media for course and player updates.

The Tournament

Average Winning Score: -13
Average Cut:  +1.5
Yardage:  7,419 yards
Par: 72
Green Surface:  TifEagle Bermuda
Fairway/Rough:  Bermuda
Skills emphasized:  One less par 3 and one more par 4 is one of the biggest differences between Bay Hill and Copperhead. Another key differentiator is that Bay Hill has more room off the tee, so driving distance could be back in play. It is still very much a second-shot course, so strokes gained-approach and proximity to the hole will be our two other key stats along with distance.

Top 5 finishers last year:

Marc Leishman
Charley Hoffman
Kevin Kisner
Rory McIlroy
Tyrell Hatton

Standout performers over last five years:

Henrik Stenson (Prior to his debacle last year. More on that later.)
Francesco Molinari
Zach Johnson
Jason Day
Justin Rose

Recap of last week's picks:

Incredibly, the tournament favorite, Jordan Spieth, along with many other high profile names, missed the cut. However, our core recommendations performed admirably with Garcia earning a top 5, Woods a runner-up and Hadwin a solid 12th. Hopefully those were good enough to help you earn some money last week. On to Bay Hill.

The Favorite:

Tiger Woods (Odds: 8/1, DraftKings $10,000, FanDuel $11,900) A meteoric rise. He's gone from 100/1 to win the Masters to the third betting choice at 10/1 and is the odds-on favorite to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It's truly remarkable. His success has been detailed just about everywhere, including last week when we emphasized the importance of his proximity to the hole stats. That strong approach/iron game was on display last week, where he ranked eighth in GIR. He knows Bay Hill just about as well as any course in the world – as you may have heard, he's won there eight times, tied with his most on any one course. He'll have an excellent chance at No. 9 this week.

Going Streaking: Players entering this week in great form

1. Adam Scott (Odds: 35/1, DraftKings $8,700, FanDuel $11,100) If you've tuned into any of Scott's rounds this year, you'd know his putting has been absolutely atrocious. It was no different at the Valspar, where he ranked fourth-worst among golfers who made the cut while losing more than 3.4 strokes for the tournament with the flatstick. Scott has struggled with consistency ever since the ban on anchored putting. The rest of his game, however, is clicking, as he ranked second last week in GIR. If he can figure out the putter he should be able to ring up his third top 15 in the last four starts.

2. Bubba Watson (Odds: 33/1, DraftKings $8,600, FanDuel $10,400) It really seems like the Bubba of old is the new Bubba…or to put it another way, he's back. A win at Riv followed by a 9th in Mexico, Bubba storms into the API, where he's had some mild success, fishing 14th in 2013 and 34th last year. Over his past four starts, he's gained on average 1.2 strokes tee-to-green, most of it from approaches, and about a half a stroke with the flatstick. Bubba couldn't make anything with the putter last year, so with his putting rounding into form, you can expect Bubba to contend for his third straight top 10.

3. Emiliano Grillo (Odds: 66/1, DraftKings $7,600, FanDuel $9,000) After making a little buzz last week at the Indian Open, Grillo returns stateside for his third start at the API. In care you missed what happened in India, here's a recap: Grillo came out blistering and took a four-shot lead into the weekend. On Saturday he closed with a double bogey and he and his playing partner, Pablo Larrazabal, had a tense exchange.



The controversy died quickly and Grillo went on to finish sixth. That's back-to-back top 10's after an eighth-place finish at the Honda three weeks ago. He finished seventh last year at the API and 17th in 2016. Over the last six weeks he's gained strokes with his putter, on his approach shots and off the tee. That should add up to success at Bay Hill.

4. Sam Burns (Odds: 100/1, DraftKings $7,200, FanDuel $9,000) This young and talented golfer needs to earn about 80-90 FedEx Cup points to earn himself a special temporary membership on the PGA Tour (see Jon Rahm from last year). This would give him unlimited Sponsor's Exemptions and set him on course to earning full PGA Tour status, again like Rahm last year and Jordan Spieth a couple year's back. The 80-90 points must be earned within his final three exemptions (each golfer gets a max of seven and by my count he has two left). This week that's the equivalent of a two-way tie for seventh or a four-way tie for sixth. If he doesn't get it done this week there are other scenarios that could happen – for example, a top 25 here and a top 8 at the alternate field event in the Dominican next week. Burns has been riding a hot putter, gaining 2 strokes per round, while also gaining close to a stroke with his approaches – a great combination. He's also 22nd on Tour in driving distance. I like Burns, the best collegiate player of 2017, to come very close to earning his PGA Tour card this week.

Henrik Stenson is off to a quiet start to his 2018 season.

Getty Images

Mulligans: Players who need a reset and expect to play well this week

Henrik Stenson (Odds: 30/1, DraftKings $9,100, FanDuel $11,200) After a terrible two days in Tampa and the nightmares from last years API, Stenson could use a few mulligans. After back-to-back top 10s eight weeks ago, Stenson hasn't done much of anything, and thus, most people won't be looking his way this week. Prior to last year's debacle Stenson had four straight top 10s and 5 straight top 15s at the API.

Where to play this fantasy Golf this week:

DraftKings: Normally home to the biggest prize pools, the buy-ins for each contest range from free all the way up to $5,300. Here is what they are featuring this week:

1. $33 Buy-in contest called the "DogLeg." It has a top prize of $100,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $500,000.

2. $4 Buy-in contest called the "Fore" it has a top prize of $25,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $325,000. The top 22% get paid.
4. $444 Buy-in contest called the "Pressure Putt" with a top prize of $100,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $400,0000 The top 22% get paid.
5. $5 Buy-in contest called the "Massive double up," where 50% of the lineups get paid, and you earn 2x your buy-in. These are often referred to as "cash games" and buy-ins for the 50/50 levels range from .25 cents all the way up to $10,000)
6. THE BIG ONE IS BACK! DraftKings announced the return of the MILLIONAIRE MAKER. This contest has a first place of 1 million dollars, and a guaranteed prize pool of 3.5 million. This contest will run for "The Masters" but you can start earning tickets to the contest this week through satellites. Satellite entries cost anywhere between .25 cents and $5.

FanDuel: Growing in popularity, FanDuel isn't quite as big as DraftKings, but still offers some great contests and a variety of scoring methods to differentiate from DK. This week's highlights include:

1. A $5.55 buy-in contest called the "Eagle," with a top prize of $20,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $100,000.

2. A $1 buy-in contest called the "Flopshot," with a top prize of $1000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $12,000.

Want to learn more about daily fantasy golf? Check out tourlevelfantasy.com for more information. Want to learn more about betting on golf? We cover that as well!

Jason Rouslin is founder of tourlevelfantasy.com. He has been playing golf for the last 20 years, betting on golf for the last five and writing about golf for the last two. Connect with him via Twitter @dfsgolfer23 or by email at Tourlevelfantasy@gmail.com.

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