5 DraftKings Plays I Love for the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational
Viktor Hovland ($10,800)
Like each of the golfers in the $10,000 and up range this week, Viktor Hovland will be moderately owned — though certainly not to the level of Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm.
When the cards get flipped over Thursday, I wouldn’t even be shocked if as much as a true majority of DraftKings lineups start with one of McIlroy or Rahm…
That said, Hovland is always someone I look to at a course like Bay Hill — a spot where distance and clubhead speed seems to be advantageous. Because of that, Hovland should have an easier time reaching the green on some of these longer holes, and I expect him to really score well on the four Par-5s.
As I mentioned in my power rankings yesterday, I view Hovland as the next generation’s Rory McIlroy. Their games are very similar to me, and so I tend to project Hovland to play well at places where McIlroy has played well at in his career.
API is clearly one of those smash spots for McIlroy. While it’s not been the same for Hovland — 49th, 42nd, and 40th in this three trips to Bay Hill — I do expect that to turn around eventually…
Why not this week?
On top of everything, Hovland is an unbelievable birdie maker. He showcased that at Genesis two weeks ago when he came back from a slow round 1 to eventually finish 4th.
I’ll surely play Rahm and Rory this week, but I’ll also mix in Viktor Hovland to some of my DK lineups.
Marc Leishman ($9,100)
Marc Leishman coming in as potentially the least owned in the $9,000 and up range seems almost insane to me.
His course history goes toe-to-toe with pretty much anyone in this price range, as Leishman won here in 2017, finished runner-up in 2020, and 7th in 2018.
Leishman rolls into this week’s event in what I can only claim as “quietly immaculate form,” about as consistent as we’ve seen Leishman play in a few years. He’s gained strokes ball-striking in 6 consecutive events dating back to the fall swing.
We’re really just waiting for Leishman’s typically very good putter and short game to pop off one of these weeks — he’s done it before at Bay Hill, gaining over 8 strokes putting when he won in 2017, and over 6 strokes putting when he finished runner-up.
Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitpatrick — who expect to be the chalk plays of the 9k+ range— are certainly excellent DraftKings picks for API, but for a leverage opportunity I’m going to love jamming in Marc Leishman this week.
Aussie, aussie, aussie?
Sam Burns ($8,800) is probably the contrarian GPP golfer that wins you all the money this week. Similar to Viktor Hovland, this is just a track that on paper suits Burns’ game so well. Burns comes in with three pretty ugly missed cuts in a row though (and not great course history), so I’m not sure if I’ll go there or not yet…
I will go to Jason Kokrak for sure though.
Another horses for courses type guy, who seemingly has found comfort at Bay Hill over the years. Most recently he’s finished T8, T18, and T10 (in the past three years), with a 6th and 4th place finish also on his resumé.
Kokrak has steadily gained strokes ball-striking at Bay Hill — often a LOT of strokes ball-striking — thanks to his long ball off-the-tee and very good long iron play. He’s finished well even with a number of poor putting performances at API, but now arrives as one of the best putters on the PGA Tour.
If his typical ball-striking matches up with the new-found hot putting, it could be a huge week for Kokrak.
I certainly won’t begrudge anyone for leaning on a chalkier Keith Mitchell ($8,100) or Paul Casey ($8,300) this week. I’ll likely play both guys a little bit, as Mitchell and Casey both just feel about a thousand dollars underpriced on DraftKings and therefore present nice value…
Ian Poulter ($7,200)
I don’t usually ride this hard for course history guys, but it’s just difficult for me to ignore Ian Poulter’s track record at API…
Since 2008, Poulter has missed the cut just once here (in 13 appearances). He’s finished T32 or better 8 times, including a 3rd place finish a decade ago.
Of course the $7,000 and up range on DK is full of guys with higher upside than Poulter — Mav McNealy, Cameron Young, Chris Kirk, Tom Hoge, Luke List, Matt Wolff, just to name a few — golfers who I will undoubtedly sprinkle into my lineups too.
But at $7,200 and not much ownership, I think Poulter just provides such a nice stability this week. You don’t need him to win.
As potentially a last guy into a lineup, I think you’d be pretty happy with a T25 or T20 finish out of Poulter here. Let the more volatile, but higher upside guys do the heavy lifting elsewhere in your DK lineup.
For a bit more context, I don’t think I’d blindly play Poulter if he was coming to Bay Hill with poor form. But he’s seemingly played well in 2022. A T6 finish in Abu Dhabi at the end of January, and a T30 finish just last week at another Florida course — in which Poulter gained ~2.5 strokes on approach and ~2.5 strokes with the putter.
Aaron Wise ($6,900)
I’m ready to get hurt again.
I’ve played Aaron Wise nearly every week he’s played in 2022, which has resulted in a disappointing missed cut in 3 out of 4 events (and a T67 at Genesis, the one cut he’s made). It’s of course been very, very painful for me.
I still just don’t think we’re THAT far removed from the guy who was gaining loads of strokes on the field throughout the late summer and fall swing.
Last week at Honda the off-the-tee numbers for Wise were good, gaining nearly 2 strokes in two rounds. The week before that at Genesis, Wise gained nearly 3 strokes on approach play…
So Wise is playing a bit of wack-a-mole with his golf game at the moment.
I don’t truly “love” any picks in the $6,000+ range this week on DraftKings. So in a place that’s so devoid of appealing options, I think I’m willing to hope and pray that Wise puts it all together starting this week.
It’s a bit of a shot in the dark, but we know from the Fall swing that Wise has legitimate upside and can make a ton of birdies, which would go a long way for your DK lineup.
Other decent options I’m considering in the $6,000 and up range: Carlos Ortiz ($6,900), Garrick Higgo ($6,700), Sam Ryder ($6,700), Cam Davis ($6,600).
No golfer priced this down this low will be a true core piece of my lineups at API.
Anyway, thanks for reading and happy GOLF.