DRAWS AND FADES
Draws and Fades: Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard
March 01, 2022
By Rob Bolton , Golfbet for PGATOUR.COM
All-time shots from the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Third place. That was my finish in Pick ‘Em Live at The Honda Classic. Not too shabby for week No. 2 of the newest game launched at PGATOUR.com.
I wish that I could say that it was easy, or that it’s easy to explain, but patience and restraint was necessary not to act, and it also required good timing.
Despite my day job, I probably don’t watch as much live golf as you do, at least until the final round. I’m nose-deep in the work in between tournaments, so when they’re being contested, I try to separate for balance.
That said, I’ll pay attention in waves, particularly on Fridays when I’m beginning to prep for the following week’s worth of work. If you await my tweet that launches the thread for the field and subsequent changes, that’s the first step of the process in earnest.
It just so happened that I was watching ESPN+ when Sepp Straka was ripping off birdies coming home in his second round at PGA National. The burly Austrian is in the same lane as a guy like Andrew Landry. They miss too many cuts but they’re not afraid of the top of the leaderboard when they can smell it. Landry has connected twice for victory, but Straka was still winless as of Friday.
Because I’ve invested in Straka in previous situations in which a win would have rewarded me, I had applied knowledge and emotion to his performances. Surely, you can relate to him or others in the same way over time. We’re fans of different guys for different reasons. This is to say that of the non-winners in the hunt at the Honda, it was the latest opportunity to latch on and let it ride.
So, I want to say that it was immediately after Straka poured in his third consecutive birdie on Friday that I pivoted to him at +10,000. When the app refreshed, Straka was sliced to +5000 or +6000.
It’s just as relevant to add that I’m trying to learn as much about Pick ‘Em Live as I can for your benefit. I am ineligible for prizes, but I want to feel what it’s like to remain loyal to how my philosophies for betting are influenced by my experience and savvy, such as my personal opinion of Straka’s maddening résumé.
As it turned out, of course, Straka yielded 10,000 coins that alone would’ve finished in third, so the all-in approach was rewarded. Furthermore, keeping my eyes on the interface has taught me a few things that you need to exploit.
If we can agree that 2- and 3-balls are veritable chance games in most instances, then when 2-balls are offered, as they were in R3 and R4 of the Honda, lean on the ties. I went 1-for-4 for 800 coins in selecting ties. When longshots are commanding the leaderboard, those are bonuses, not difference-makers, so swing for the fence. Only the top five cash, anyway, and we all start at zero next week, so don’t overthink it.
Another valuable plan is to bird-dog the Top 10 and Top 20 boards, which should open and have opened at times in between rounds, but it’s not absolute for various reasons. So, when you lock in a pick, bake into your decision that you may not be able to change it again at any point. You’re best off establishing a low expectation concerning both.
When either opens, timing includes late evenings and early mornings, naturally, depending on where you live, also naturally. The volatility is real, and you have to be quick, but preparation pays. What’s more, as I did late on Saturday night (Mountain Time) of the Honda, you might find an Alex Noren at +900 for a Top 20 while he’s sitting T7 after three rounds. Easy, uh, pick ‘ems. Wink, wink.
For the full visual of my board at PGA National, click here.
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Adam Scott (+125 for a Top 20) … He occupied this spot at the Genesis and placed T4. That’s how deep that field was. In fact, after further review, I had added him to my lineup in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf. That’s not going to happen this week because he doesn’t have quite the success at Bay Hill as he has at Riviera. However, he’s a cut-making machine, so confidence remains elevated in that context alone. Piling on is a fantastic run of form even amid his admission of how challenging it had been returning to action after the three-month shutdown in 2020.
Tommy Fleetwood (+200 for a Top 20) … All’s well that ends well. Despite missing the cut at The Honda Classic, he clung to 50th in the Official World Golf Ranking to qualify for THE PLAYERS Championship next week. (For all of the moving parts that had his – and our – attention, read the latest Qualifiers.) No doubt relieved that he no longer needs to win the API to make the trip to TPC Sawgrass, don’t rule out the breakthrough. The Englishman finished T3 here in 2019 and has a pair of T10s in five appearances overall. Momentum is everything, even relatively speaking after last week’s failure.
Lee Westwood (+350 for a Top 20) … Remember that he went off during that fierce fortnight for consecutive seconds at Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass a year ago, but he’s regressed to the mean, which is to say that he’s complementary only in DFS situations. Ignore that prop.
Luke List (+230 for a Top 20) … Your last image of him may have been the near-albatross on the par-5 first hole at Riviera to begin his Genesis. Alas, he went on to miss the cut. All things being equal, Bay Hill is a better fit for his profile, anyway, and it’s come to life multiple times before. He’s 4-for-4 with a pair of top 10s and a T17.
Keegan Bradley (+260 for a Top 20) … My man-crush is still flickering for the 35-year-old. Hey, when you continue to contribute, there’s always a place in my heart. Even better, he’s survived the cut in all of the last nine editions of the API. Three went for a top 10, including a T10 last year. With the kind of power and precision that he presents, tee times on the weekend at Bay Hill serve as the baseline expectation.
Justin Rose (+220 for a Top 20) … Made the cut here last year and was positioned at T7 at the midpoint, but a sore lower back forced him out during the third round. The 41-year-old has remained as reliable as ever with 11 consecutive cuts made worldwide upon arrival. He also held on for an exemption into THE PLAYERS via the OWGR (refer to the link in Tommy Fleetwood’s capsule above), so it’s fair to anticipate him to use that as a springboard at Bay Hill where he’s recorded three podium finishes among 12 paydays (not including last year’s cut made pre-WD).
Jason Day (+230 for a Top 20) … Editor's note: Day withdrew on Wednesday. He prevailed at Bay Hill in 2016, so it’s a coincidence that there’s news today that he’s inked a deal with Bridgestone Golf to use its 2022 TOUR B X ball. The through line as it concerns impact of equipment changes for our purposes is most relevant with the ball, so this isn’t insignificant news. A T3 at the Farmers a month ago is inspiring, but the general refocusing is what we’ve wanted (read: needed) to witness to get excited about him again. He’s only 34 years of age, so he should be in his prime. Given his skill set, getting from here to there with more evidence shouldn’t take very long.
Erik van Rooyen
Odds sourced on Tuesday, March 1 at 5 p.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
Sepp Straka … He delivered, uh, like a champ(!) as a Sleeper at the Honda (see Recap below), but while other recent first-time winners have kept the pedal down immediately after their breakthroughs, his track record alone at Bay Hill is cause for pause. Two missed cuts in as many tries with a scoring average of 75.25.
Corey Conners … This is an odd one. After putting four rounds together for an 11th-place finish at Waialae, he’s just 1-for-4 with a T38 at TPC Scottsdale. Too many mistakes have led to rounds of par and worse, and not on the most challenging courses. Finished third here last year, but Bay Hill isn’t the kind of test for which you show up and ace without understanding where you game is at the moment.
Patrick Reed … I’ll grant that I’ve come to accept him as a horse for courses, but the name recognition is all he’s presenting of late. His last top 30 in a full-field event was the co-runner-up in Bermuda in October. Before that, you need to go back to a T25 at the Travelers Championship over eight months ago. Mixed bag at Bay Hill includes a pair of top 15s, but he’ll be overpriced in DFS situations to even consider him as a contrarian.
Branden Grace … Not that he’d prefer to be defending his title in Puerto Rico – TOUR bylaws prevent it because he’s automatically qualified for the API – but he’d probably fare better on the island. Bay Hill beats up just about everyone, but he’s just 2-for-4 with one top 60 (T26, 2021). Acknowledging success at Grand Reserve and other lengthy par 72s as exceptions, remember to limit him primarily to shorter par 70s and 71s.
Henrik Stenson … Once upon a time, he was a force at Bay Hill. From 2007 through 2019, he went 10-for-11 with four top-five finishes among eight top 25s. But this story doesn’t have a happy ending. He missed the cut in the last two and his recent form as been anything but consistent. Hey, he’s only a month from turning 46 and no one outraces the sunset.
Si Woo Kim
RETURNING TO COMPETITION – ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY MASTERCARD
Matt Fitzpatrick … This is just a reminder that an illness forced him to withdraw early from The Genesis Invitational. The good news is that it doesn’t affect his swing. And while he may need a day or two to feel like he’s competition-ready, the fit is strong enough to deserve a spot in my Power Rankings.
RETURNING TO COMPETITION – PUERTO RICO OPEN
Scott Gutschewski … First action since walking off Pebble Beach with an injured rib in the final round. It extended his slump to 0-for-5 since The RSM Classic. Incidentally, if you missed it and have the curiosity to learn how a mid-round WD in a final round of a tournament with a 54-hole MDF cut impacted him and those who were not permitted to compete in the finale, I wrote about it in the second half of the opening of Draws and Fades for the WM Phoenix Open.
Matt Every … He’s buried in the membership ranks with Past Champion status after going 0-for-22 last season, so he doesn’t offer any fantasy value, but he did have to withdraw during his second round of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship in late October with a sore wrist, so this mention serves as housekeeping.
NOTABLE WDs – ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY MASTERCARD
Bryson DeChambeau … Remains on the mend for injuries to his left hip and left hand.
C.T. Pan … Having gone 0-for-3 with six rounds over par at Bay Hill since 2019, it’s a timely rest ahead of THE PLAYERS where he’ll arrive with a solo ninth (Genesis) and a T16 (Honda) as the most recent objects in the rearview mirror.
Robert Streb … He’s missed the cut in all six career starts at Bay Hill. You’ll see him again next week at TPC Sawgrass.
NOTABLE WDs – PUERTO RICO OPEN
Rasmus Højgaard … GOLFTV’s Andres Sigdal reported on the Twitter page, @golfblog_dk that Højgaard is nursing a sore back. Rasmus’ twin brother, Nicolai, is in the field at the API.
William McGirt … He won’t be biting into his medical extension for which he has 10 starts remaining. With less than the full allocation of FedExCup points distributed in additional events, it’s sensible to sit. In the context of trying to beat fellow touring professionals in an oppo, the objective is more challenging than it seems, while the pressure to perform is the same.
Chris Stroud … Same boat as McGirt but with 12 starts left on his medical.
RECAP – THE HONDA CLASSIC
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Sungjae Im MC
2 Billy Horschel T16
3 Daniel Berger 4th
4 Keith Mitchell T9
5 Tommy Fleetwood MC
6 Shane Lowry 2nd
7 Brooks Koepka T16
8 Matt Jones MC
9 Louis Oosthuizen T30
10 C.T. Pan T16
11 Mackenzie Hughes T48
12 Joaquin Niemann MC
13 Denny McCarthy T30
14 Aaron Wise MC
15 Mito Pereira T30
Wild Card Matthew Wolff MC
Golfer (Prop) Result
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (top 20) T25
Hayden Buckley (top 20) MC
K.H. Lee (top 20) T48
Taylor Moore (top 20) MC
Sepp Straka (top 20) Win
Sungjae Im – Top Asian (+110) MC
Jhonattan Vegas, Mackenzie Hughes and Mito Pereira to make the cut (+200) T42/T48/T30
Joaquin Niemann to miss the cut (+300) MC
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE PGA TOUR
March 1 … Pat Perez (46); Hayden Buckley (26)
March 2 … Joshua Creel (32)
March 3 … Patton Kizzire (36); Aaron Rai (27)
March 4 … Seamus Power (35); Denny McCarthy (29)
March 5 … none
March 6 … Ben Crane (46)
March 7 … none