PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist Rob Bolton lists five against-the-grain fantasy selections to consider for this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
Morgan Hoffmann … Has a score to settle with Bay Hill after holding sole possession of the 18- and 36-hole leads last year. He circled nine birdies post-cut, but settled for a pair of 1-under 71s to finish fourth, four swings adrift of champion Matt Every. Hoffmann has struggled in his last five starts, cashing only twice and neither for a top 60, so he’ll attempt to connect with the rhythm with which he finished third in strokes gained: tee-to-green and fifth in the all-around here last year. Currently 33rd on TOUR in strokes gained: putting, 13th in average distance of putts converted and T9 in par-5 scoring.
Harris English … Like Hoffmann, who is just 19 days younger, the University of Georgia machine is back to avenge a rough weekend at Bay Hill last year. English sat T2 at the midpoint, three shots back of his contemporary, and went out in the penultimate pairing in the third round. Alas, he drifted into a share of 29th place and was the only inside the top 40 on the final leaderboard without a red number in either of the last two rounds. He’s coming off a rare missed cut at Copperhead, too, but that’s given him a couple of extra days to rest and prepare. Statistically above average almost everywhere you look and 30th in the FedExCup standings with top 10s in two of his last four starts.
Jhonattan Vegas … The 31-year-old from Venezuela is making his 114th career start as a professional on the PGA TOUR, but this will be his first as a father. His daughter was born on March 3. Despite Past Champion status this season, he gained entry into this invitational by virtue of his position in the FedExCup standings. Currently 87th with a pair of top 10s and another two top 25s. Flushing it tee-to-green as usual, ranking 14th in total driving and second in greens in regulation. Fourth appearance at Bay Hill.
Brett Stegmaier … At 32 years of age, he’s hardly a prototypical rookie. After toiling in the obscurity of the mini-tours for several years, the University of Florida product put in three years of dues on the Web.com Tour before launching onto the PGA TOUR this season. He all but solidified next season’s card with a T2 at the Shriners in October, but has gone on to add a trio of top 25s, including in his previous two stops on the Florida Swing. He ran through the tape in both, closing out The Honda Classic and the Valspar Championship with 68s on challenging tracks. Really solid tee to green and long enough to tackle Bay Hill when it’s stretched out.
Bryson DeChambeau … By now you’re at least a little familiar with the fascinating 22-year-old from Modesto, California, he of the identical-length irons and wedges in his bag. He’s making his first PGA TOUR appearance since lifting the U.S. Amateur trophy last summer. That trailed the individual crown at the NCAA Championship. He’s now embarking on what should be a compelling journey in the U.S. in 2016. He’s likely to conclude his amateur career at the Masters (thus forgoing exemptions into the U.S. Open and Open Championship), but with a T2 at the Australian Masters in November and a tidy run through the European Tour’s Desert Swing where he opened with the 18-hole lead in Abu Dhabi and wrapped the three-week stint with a T18 in Dubai, his future is the present. But that’s a theme among the talents atop the World Amateur Golf Ranking in which he’s positioned at No. 4. Top-ranked Jon Rahm and third-rated Robby Shelton already have top-five finishes on the PGA TOUR. Lee McCoy, who sits at No. 8, joined the club with a solo fourth at last week’s Valspar Championship. So, if there’s going to be another member, look no further than the man in possession of the most valuable hardware in amateur golf. (World No. 3 Maverick McNealy is also scheduled to compete at Bay Hill this week.)