This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Golf series.
Arnold Palmer Invitational
Bay Hill Club - Par 72 - 7,454 yards
Field - 123 Entrants
Purse - $9.1M
On the heels of Keith Mitchell's clutch-gene birth at PGA National, "Arnie's Place" is primed to host Leg 2 of the Florida Swing, as Bay Hill invites 123 entrants to compete for a $9.1M purse and the coveted red cardigan sweater. A combination of disappointment and panic ensued when Mr. Move-the-Needle was forced to withdraw due to a lingering neck strain, but Tiger Woods hopes to be ready for next week's PLAYERS Championship so long as his treatment goes as planned. Surely the eight-time champion will be missed at Bay Hill this week, but the field remains much more enticing than we saw at the Honda Classic, regardless of Big Cat's removal. Six of the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking will tee it up in Orlando, where the PGA Tour pays annual tribute to Arnie, golf's king – whom the PGA's Rookie of the Year award will be named after moving forward. Examining the forecast as spotty spring weather occasionally presents Bay Hill's greatest defense, winds shouldn't reach more than 8 mph for the first two rounds while sunny skies encourage scoring opportunities. Bay Hill features enough water hazards and dog-legs to force players into hitting a number of long irons into greens, but the par-5s can be attacked if three-inch rough is avoided.
2018 - Rory McIlroy
2017 - Marc Leishman
2016 - Jason Day
2015 - Matt Every
2014 - Matt Every
2013 - Tiger Woods
2012 - Tiger Woods
2011 - Martin Laird
2010 - Ernie Els
Key Stats to Victory
SG: Tee-to-Green - Ball striking is paramount as a lofty GIR percentage can work to combat variance and lousy putting performances
Proximity from 200-225 yards - All four of Bay Hill's par-3s measure between 199 and 231 yards, emphasizing the importance of precision from this range
SG: Off-the-Tee - Driving distance is a primary factor for much-needed par-5 success, while Arnie's place ranks among the toughest in terms of rough proximity as driving accuracy also plays a role
SG: Putting - Bay Hill's greens can certainly run fast, but nine entrants managed to average less than 27 putts per round here in 2018 when Rory surged to the winner's circle thanks to a sizzling putter
Yahoo Value Picks - based on $200 salary cap
Cream of the Crop
Rory McIlroy - $48
The defending champ led last year's field in driving distance, putting average and bogey avoidance, and seemingly drained everything with the flat stick en route to a final-round 64 and a three-shot victory. The putter has held McIlroy back in 2019, but he has still racked up four straight top-5s since the Sentry TOC. He paces the Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee, SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Total, and travels to Bay Hill as the betting favorite over Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka.
Justin Rose - $47
A missed cut in his last tournament appearance at the Saudi International shouldn't be much concern. Rose showed up, collected his lavish appearance fee and got outta there on the heels of a win at the Farmers Insurance Open. The top-ranked player in this week's field, Rose owns five career top-10s at Bay Hill and is a collective 28-under-par the past three years at the invitational. He's well-rested and leads the PGA in both birdie and scoring average.
Tommy Fleetwood - $40
Fleetwood has carded two scores of 76 or worse in his first eight rounds at Bay Hill, but he still managed to finish T26-T10. If Fleetwood can avoid the disaster round in this year's edition, look for the Englishman to finally vie for contention at Arnie's Place. He's fourth on Tour in proximity from 200-225 yards and totaled just eight bogeys here in 2018.
Hideki Matsuyama - $38
Matsuyama might struggle to break par at your local miniature golf course, but his ball striking is too good to ignore at a venue that rewards both distance off the tee and quality long-iron play. He's top-7 on Tour in driving distance, SG: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green but just 163rd in SG: Putting. Matsuyama is even up to fourth in scrambling. A simply microscopic improvement with the putter could result in a cruise to the podium for Matsuyama, who has strung together four straight top-20s.
Ian Poulter - $35
Poulter caught fire during the European Tour's Desert Swing with top-6 results from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship through the Saudi International, and he extended that impressive streak with a tie for third in Mexico. He led the field in putts per GIR and gained over four strokes approach at the Club de Golf Chapultepec. The fiery Englishman is sixth in GIR percentage, 24th in driving accuracy, 15th in par-5 scoring and has made eight cuts in a row at the API.
Rafa Cabrera Bello - $35
The Spaniard has displayed an elevated level of consistency, with top-25s in eight of nine worldwide starts since a T3 at the CJ Cup in late October. Cabrera-Bello will be a first-timer at Bay Hill, but he fits the mold with rankings of fourth in rough proximity, first in proximity from 200-225 yards, 23rd in SG: Putting and 26th in birdie or better percentage.
Si Woo Kim - $32
Kim has made major strides with the flat stick, ascending to fourth in SG: Putting after finishing each of the past three seasons outside the top 115. Coming off back-to-back top-4s at the Genesis Open and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Kim led the field at Riviera CC in scrambling and gained over seven strokes putting. He will be hoping his recent success translates to the bermuda grass in Florida.
Lucas Glover - $26
Joining the top 100 in the OWGR for the first time since last May, Glover is on a roll with top-20s in seven of eight starts to begin the 2018-19 campaign. He fired a four-under 66 during Round 4 at the Honda Classic, where he ultimately finished top-10 in GIR percentage, SG: Off-the-Tee, scrambling and bogey avoidance. Riding the hot hand at such an affordable price will be a no-brainer for many gamers, so expect inflated ownership.
Jason Kokrak - $24
Kokrak has yet to miss a single cut since July's Open Championship, most recently adding a T9 at the Honda despite logging a pair of double bogeys. He was fifth among the field in SG: Tee-to-Green at PGA National, but will be seeking positive regression in the putting department this week in Orlando.
Nate Lashley - $20
Lashley has more than just a paycheck on the line with two starts of a Minor Medical Extension remaining. He needs an additional 21.953 FedExCup points to ensure a full schedule for the remainder of the season, and a top-30 performance at Bay Hill would also net Lashley a spot in the field for next week's PLAYERS Championship. Other than a hiccup at the Web.com Tour's LECOM Suncoast Classic, he hasn't missed a cut all season and ranks 24th in SG: Approach, 20th in SG: Putting, 23rd in GIR percentage and sixth in proximity from over 200 yards.
Strategy Tips on Yahoo this week
The invitational structure features a reduced field from the usual 156 entrants to just 123, meaning a larger percentage of competitors will make the cut as the top 70 and ties advance after 36 holes. This allows gamers to feel a bit more flexible with risk tolerance and selections in the lower price ranges, so you could see a few more studs and duds lineups than usual. It might become somewhat contrarian and therefore intriguing to stack numerous options in the $31-39 range, where plenty of valuable weapons like Poulter and Matsuyama exist.