March 20 2013
Sergio Garcia has put together a remarkable run of top-25s since his win last August at the Wyndham Championship. (Cannon/Getty Images)
By Rob Bolton, Fantasy Insider
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Tiger Woods is a must-start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in every fantasy format that rewards success, but one-and-doners are still required to pause and review the options.
If Woods is still available to you and your rules don't exclude burning the defending champion, he makes it awfully difficult to invest elsewhere regardless who you have No. 2 on your board. Not only did he end a two-year winless drought on the PGA TOUR at Bay Hill last year, but he did so in convincing fashion, going five strokes lower than runner-up Graeme McDowell.
Woods either led or co-led the field in greens in regulation, par breakers, par-4 scoring average, par-5 scoring average and scrambling. He also finished fourth in strokes gained-putting. Two weeks ago, he picked off his fifth victory in the last 12 months with a wire-to-wire, two-stroke triumph at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. His splits throughout his bag at TPC Blue Monster at Trump Doral were ridiculous.
To suggest that you should holster him for the Masters, World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational of the FedExCup Playoffs would be reckless on my part. This is why I'm exhausting my lone self-imposed mulligan on using defending champions and burning him at Bay Hill. Woods' remaining sites for title defenses this season are the Memorial and AT&T National. If I were limiting my options to use my mulligan to events only he has won, the Arnold Palmer Invitational is the runaway choice.
The primary argument against not playing Woods is that this week's purse is just $6.2 million. One-and-doners expect nothing short of a victory when they plug him in, but no second-place paycheck matches the $1,116,000 awarded to the winner at Bay Hill.
If you can't burn him or you're committed to him later, Lake Nona's McDowell is a suitable replacement. Not only is he seeking to climb that final spot on the leaderboard at Bay Hill but he's also red-hot upon arrival.
Another Orlando resident, Ian Poulter, earns an endorsement as well. In his last two trips, he's finished T12 and solo third. What's more, he's still growing on one-and-doners that think of him only as a weapon for match-play events, so you'd likely have little company if you circled the Englishman.
Justin Rose is back in action after a one-week break and immediately returns to our focus at Bay Hill thanks to a T3 in 2011 and a T15 last year, not to mention a hearty T4-T8 start to the Florida Swing. Rest assured that you'll read more about him in this feature later in the season if you don't hop aboard this week.
And just like last week, both Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia command our attention at Bay Hill, and again, it's but one of many venues where each makes sense. That said, the argument for leaning on Garcia is stronger because he can't miss having posted 13 consecutive top-25s since his win at Sedgefield last August.
Last week: Jim Furyk; T7; $148,892,85
Overall Record: 10-for-12
Top 5s: 4
Top 10s: 7
Top 25s: 9
Missed Cuts: 2