Arnold Palmer Invitational picks 2022: The Matt Fitzpatrick debate
Incredibly, our panel of experts nearly picked three consecutive winners on the PGA Tour, as our anonymous caddie picker of the week was on Daniel Berger to win the Honda Classic. Unfortunately, we know how that one played out, with Sepp Straka stealing victory from Berger and Shane Lowry down the stretch at PGA National. If you were on the Austrian last week, that’s one hell of a pick.
We’re confident in saying that this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill will likely end with a much bigger name raising the trophy, if history is any indication. Jon Rahm is in the field, as is Rory McIlroy, who has quite the track record at Arnie’s place, including a win in 2018.
Though our experts aren't going with any super longshots this week, they are looking at value in the mid-range. One of those names is Honda Classic favorite Sungjae Im, who missed the cut at PGA National and has subsequently dropped on the odds board. What about Matt Fitzpatrick? He presents an interesting dilemma this week. In his last (attempted) start, he withdrew from Riviera with a stomach bug (which was pretty serious, we're told). Our sources also tell us he's completely fine and ready to go for Bay Hill. A couple of our experts are fading him, but other members of the betting panel are undeterred by the short number.
Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Arnold Palmer Invitational picks 2022: Our experts' outright predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Viktor Hovland (18-1, DraftKings) — Who’s been better than him over the past six months? Maybe Patrick Cantlay. But Hovland has three wins in his past six starts and was a few strokes away from making it interesting at Riviera. He should be closer to Jon Rahm’s odds in my opinion.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Will Zalatoris (25-1, DraftKings) — He’s tops in approach over the past 12 rounds, and first in proximity from beyond 200 yards. Tee to green, obviously he checks out. It’s just, will he ever putt well enough? Maybe. The last three times he’s been a positive with the flat stick, all on Bermuda greens by the way, he’s gaining an average of 3.3 strokes.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Sungjae Im (29-1, FanDuel) — Sungjae has found good form at Bay Hill with two third-place finishes and a 21st, and he’s coming off of a missed cut to drop his number down from where it probably should be. Im is best on Bermuda and is a virtual lock to gain strokes off the tee, one of the keys here this week.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Matt Fitzpatrick (32-1, Bet365) — Fitzpatrick’s WD (stomach bug) prior to the Genesis Invitational has driven his number to a point that I cannot pass up. Fitzpatrick has proven that he can contend in some of the world’s best fields. The notable top-11 finishes from the Englishman since the start of last year include the Genesis Invitational, WGC Workday Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Players Championship and the WM Phoenix Open. All of those events boast a Strength of Field over 470 (average PGA Tour SOF is about 448). His last three trips to Bay Hill have produced a T-10, T-9 and runner-up finish. It’s time for Fitzpatrick to don the famous red cardigan.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Matt Fitzpatrick (32-1, Bet365) — I was between Sungjae and Fitz in this range, and though I’ll probably regret not being aligned with my guy CP, he’s bound to cool down, right? Fitz might be the GOAT plodder in this field, and he’s actually No. 1 in par-5 scoring on par 5s between 550-600 yards over the past 24 rounds, per Fantasy National, and he’s first in SG/putting on Bermuda over the past 50 rounds. I think it’ll all add up to his first PGA Tour victory for Fitz on a course well-suited to his game.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Sungjae Im (29-1, FanDuel) — Last week’s missed cut at the Honda was a blessing in disguise. Now we get Sungjae at discount at Bay Hill, where he has an even better record, save for a win, than he does at PGA National.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Adam Scott (35-1, DraftKings) — Scott comes into this event ranked third in the field this week for Opportunities Gained over the last two months. He also ranks seventh for SG/total at Bay Hill. One of the reasons he plays so well here is his excellent long game and his ability to putt well on fast, Bermuda greens.
Past results: Golf Digest's betting panel had another strong season in 2020-’21, correctly predicting 14 winners in the last 28 events of the year. We’re already off to a hot start in the new season, too, with Christopher Powers nailing Scottie Scheffler’s win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at 29-1 and then backing it up with Joaquin Niemann at 60-1 to win at Riviera. A few weeks earlier, Pat Mayo correctly predicted Luke List’s victory at Torrey Pines at 70-1. Rick Gehman also hit Sam Burns (16-1) at the Sanderson Farms Championship in the fall, as well as Viktor Hovland (19-1) at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. Brandon Gdula also hit on Hovland at Mayakoba, and Stephen Hennessey cashed on Hideki Matsuyama (12-1) at the Zozo Championship.
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right" (above), where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
Arnold Palmer Invitational picks 2022: Sleepers/Dark horses who could win
Caddie: Billy Horschel (50-1) — Billy struggled over the first couple of rounds but rallied on the weekend at the Honda. His past six months have been really, really good—and maybe he found something on the weekend that he’ll bring to Orlando.
Mayo: Sam Burns (50-1, DraftKings) — Nothing in his recent form would suggest a win, but if we rewind a month, Burns is 20-1 in stronger fields. Yes, he’s in a bad stretch at the moment, but either this number is where he should have always been or we’re getting a HUGE value. I’ll take the value.
Gdula: Sergio Garcia (55-1, FanDuel) — Garcia can benefit from a course that doesn’t feature tough greens (statistically speaking, that is). He’s played Bay Hill a lot in the past – just not recently. Garcia’s got the form to add his name to the winner’s list, which is a list of studs. It’s not a week I want to look for many long shots for outright picks.
Gehman: Cameron Young (80-1, DraftKings) — Young is off to a quick start here in 2022, notching four straight top-26 finishes – including a T-2 at the Genesis Invitational. His most impressive skill-set is his driver. He’s gained at least four strokes off-the-tee in three straight starts – which is a feat that Bryson DeChambeau has only accomplished once in his career. He should be able to use that asset around Bay Hill and continue this excellent stretch of golf.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Luke List (86-1, Bet365) — I just don’t understand the Luke List number. Sure, Bermuda isn’t his best putting surface—but he has three top-20 finishes at Bay Hill in the past four years. I see a lot of correlation between Torrey Pines and Bay Hill (long, tough courses with thick rough). I think it’s stealing to take this number on the Farmers winner.
Powers, Golf Digest: Cameron Young (80-1, DraftKings) — Burnout might be a concern for some, as Young is set to tee it up for a seventh time in eight weeks. But I’m riding this wave until it crashes. He still has a ton to play for as he’s right on the edge of the OWGR top 50, and his skill-set seems tailor-made for Bay Hill.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Keith Mitchell (45-1, DraftKings) — “Bermuda Keith” has posted five top-10 finishes in his past six PGA Tour events. The fact that he does putt so well on Bermuda greens plays a big part in him ranking fifth in the FanShareSports Course Suitability ranking this week. With both the current form and course suitability Mitchell should have a great chance to win this week.
Arnold Palmer Invitational picks 2022: Players we're fading
Caddie: Jon Rahm (+750) — OK, I do think this is a good course setup for Rahm on paper. An emphasis on driving and long approach shots should play into his wheelhouse. But Rahm has been very shaky with the putter. It’s tough to bet him to win in a strong field at this number—especially at a course he’s never played before.
Mayo: Matt Fitzpatrick (20-1, DraftKings) — Fitz is a fine play for placements or on DraftKings DFS, but to win this tournament, I’m going to need much deeper odds than we’re getting. I understand he’s played really well at this course over the years, but that’s sucked away any value in his number.
Gdula: Matt Fitzpatrick (29-1, FanDuel) — Fitzpatrick is drawing a lot of attention, and I get it, but at a course that rewards ball-striking, he’s just not standing out enough from the other elites in this field. I’d rather bet anyone else below 30-1 than Fitz himself. His irons are on fire, but long-term trends say that’ll cool down eventually.
Gehman: Scottie Scheffler (16-1, DraftKings) — I feel as if Scheffler has one of the largest ranges of outcomes out of the top players in the field this week. He’s an aggressive driver of the ball, which can work out great … or get him into a lot of trouble. Bay Hill is going to require golfers to hit a lot of shots from 200-225 yards, about twice as often as the tour average. Scheffler has struggled from that range this season, ranking 103rd on tour.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Jon Rahm (+750) — The ball-striking has remained elite for Rahm, but the short game has been quite bad. He’s losing over a stroke to the field around the greens over his past five rounds, plus he lost more than two strokes putting in his last two events. I’d rather wait until The Players when we might get catch a 10- or 12-1.
Powers, Golf Digest: Scottie Scheffler (16-1, DraftKings) — Was very impressed with Scottie backing up his WMPO win with a seventh at Riviera, and would not be surprised to see his name on the first page of the board on Sunday. But I’ll wait to get back in on Scottie until majors SZN, when it’s big-game hunting time.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jon Rahm (+750, DraftKings) — I hate fading the player who comes into this event ranked first for SG/total over the last two months and first for SG/total over the last two years but he has never payed Bay Hill and based on his historical stats it’s not a course that will suit his game. He also loses shots to the field when putting on fast, Bermuda greens.
Arnold Palmer Invitational picks 2022: Matchups
Caddie: Keegan Bradley (+105) over Cameron Young (DraftKings) — I’d assume Cameron has to be getting tired counting all the money he’s made the last two weeks. This is a good spot for Keegan to ball strike his way to a good finish.
Mayo: Troy Merritt (+105) over Jason Day (DraftKings) — Merritt has been playing well, especially off the tee, and has a sneaky good track record at Bay Hill over the years. Granted, Day does have a win here, but he’s been far more likely to WD since that win than claim victory.
Gdula: Sungjae Im (+100) over Matthew Fitzpatrick (FOX Bet) — This one is just a natural fit based on my win pick versus my fade. Fitzpatrick is a fine play but lags in the ball-striking territory compared to Sungjae.
Gehman: Keith Mitchell (-120) over Sam Burns (DraftKings) — Burns enters this week with three straight missed cuts, losing strokes from tee-to-green on a regular basis. That red flag contrasts the bright green flag from Mitchell who continues to show top tier ball-striking ability. His T-9 last week at the Honda Classic was no surprise and this is certainly the part of the tour schedule where he thrives.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Ian Poulter (-110) over Erik Van Rooyen (DraftKings) — Poulter thrives in Florida (he’s 14th in this field over the past 50 rounds on Florida courses), whereas EVR is 88th in the same category, per Fantasy National. EVR plays well on tough courses, which scares me a bit, but Poulter has a distinct Bermuda putting and Florida advantage on the South African.
Powers, Golf Digest: Tommy Fleetwood (-110) over Sergio Garcia (DraftKings) — Tommy is going to right the ship here sooner or later, and he loves these Florida courses. We’ll chalk up last week’s MC (which was right on the number) to it being his first start on U.S. soil since the CJ Cup in October.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Marc Leishman (-110) over Paul Casey (Boyle Sports) — Leishman comes into this this event ranked 18th for SG/total over the last two months and 10th for SG/putting on fast, Bermuda Greens over the last two years. It’s not surprising then to see that he has a previous victory and second-place finish here. Casey on the other hand comes into this event ranked just 35th for SG/total over the last two months and just 49th for SG/putting on fast Bermuda over the last two years.
Matchup Results from the Honda Classic: Gdula: 1 for 1 (Noren –112) over Young); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Mitchell (+100) over Koepka); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Noren (-112) over Young); Powers: 1 for 1 (Fowler (+100) over Reed); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Mitchell (-120) over Wolff); Caddie: PUSH (Wise (+100) over Harman); Mayo: PUSH (Wise (+100) over Harman);
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 12-3-3 (up 8.26 units); Powers: 12-4-2 (up 7.75 units); Caddie: 9-7-2 (up 1.62 units); Hennessey: 8-9-1 (down 3.82 units); Alldrick: 7-10-1 (down 4.16 units); Gdula: 7-11-0 (down 4.48 units); Gehman: 5-10-3 (down 5.44 units)
Arnold Palmer Invitational picks 2022: Top 10s
Caddie: Viktor Hovland (+240, FanDuel) — If Hovland doesn’t start out hot, he seems to be legendary for his backdoor weekend top-10s. This is great value as I expect him to have a chance down the stretch.
Mayo: Robson Chinhoi (+9000) — Let’s shift over to the DP World Tour for this one because the number is just too juicy. The king of the Keyna Mini Tour, winner of four his last eight starts, gets a start in a watered down field at the Magical Kenya Open. Yes, it’s an absolute longshot, but he just won an event at this very course, and he doesn’t have to duke it out with Rory or Rahm for a top 10, it’s Adrian Meronk and Oliver Bekker. It’s plausible this could happen. Hell, the +800 on the top 40 is pretty enticing, too.
Gdula: Cameron Tringale (+850, FanDuel) — This is a great number on Tringale at FanDuel Sportsbook to top 10. Tringale has gone third, MC, 13th in 2022 so far and has made four straight cuts at Bay Hill, as well.
Gehman: Hideki Matsuyama (+250, DraftKings) — When I look at the metrics for Matsuyama, all I see is upside. His career on the putting surfaces at Bay Hill has not been good. Three of his 14 worst putting performances of his career have come at Bay Hill – per the RickRunGood.com golf database. Despite those massive losses, he finished T-33, T-56 and T-21 in those weeks. Since the calendar turned, Matsuyama has been a much improved putter, gaining 7.27 strokes in five starts. If he can marry his elite ball-striking with his recent putting gains, Matsuyama will contend this week.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Marc Leishman (+333, Bet365) — I’m foolish for not betting Leishman outright, as he’s second in my Fantasy National custom model this week—he’s top-10 in this field right now in putting and is a good historical putter on Bermuda. The ball-striking stats are all consistent … I like the Aussie at a place where he’s had a lot of success.
Powers, Golf Digest: Chris Kirk (+550, DraftKings) — Right back to the Kirk well for me. Might as well continue to try and make money on him in Florida, where he’s thrived historically. In his last three trips to API, he’s gone eighth, 15th, 13th.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+550, FanDuel) — Bezhuidenhout ranks seventh in the FanShare Sports course-suitability ranking this week due to his sharp short game and excellent putting ability on fast, Bermuda greens. The South African ranks 25th in the field this week for SG/total over the last two years and 33rd for SG/total over the past two months.
Top-10 results from the Honda Classic: Powers: 1 for 1 (Kirk +550); Everybody else: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Powers: 7 for 18 (up 25.75 units); Alldrick: 4 for 18 (up 11.5 units); Gehman: 4 for 18 (up 2.7 units); Mayo: 2 for 18 (down 0.45 units); Hennessey: 4 for 18 (down 2.53 units); Caddie: 4 for 18 (down 7.15 units); Gdula: 1 for 18 (down 14.6 units)
Arnold Palmer Invitational picks 2022: One and Done
Gehman: Rory McIlroy — There’s no one that can match McIlroy’s record at Bay Hill. In 28 rounds, he’s gaining 2.41 strokes per round—the most of anyone in the field. That includes five straight top-10 finishes with a win sprinkled in there. The only question in regards to McIlroy would be the choice to save him for a major championship. With the depth of the tour right now, I’m fine with using him right now.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Kevin Na; Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Louis Oosthuizen. Zozo Championship: Hideki Matsuyama. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Abraham Ancer. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Scottie Scheffler. Sentry TOC: Sungjae Im. Sony Open: Corey Conners. American Express: Talor Gooch. Farmers Insurance Open: Tony Finau. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Daniel Berger. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Viktor Hovland. Genesis Invitational: Xander Schauffele. Honda Classic: Billy Horschel.
Hennessey: Keith Mitchell — I’m tempted to go with Cameron Young, but I won’t get too cute. Mitchell’s riding an insane heater and coming in off a hot ball-striking Sunday, finishing T-9 despite losing more than a stroke and a half to the field around the greens. It feels like a great spot to use Mitch.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo; Sanderson Farms Championship: Carlos Ortiz. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Collin Morikawa. Zozo Championship: Takumi Kanaya. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Aaron Wise. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Marc Leishman. American Express: Sungjae Im. Farmers Insurance Open: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Lanto Griffin. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Viktor Hovland. Genesis Invitational: Will Zalatoris. Honda Classic: Russell Knox.
Powers: Chris Kirk — I’m on Kirk top 10 again and I’ve also bet him outright at 80-1 on Bet365 (shop those lines, people!). Can he beat a field that includes Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy after squandering a chance to beat a much weaker field last week? Probably not, but remember, he was once a prolific PGA Tour winner, and I do think he’s still got at least one more tour win in him. Good chance it comes in Florida, too.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Brendan Steele. Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Aaron Wise. CJ Cup: Talor Gooch. Zozo Championship: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda Championship: Patrick Rodgers. Mayakoba: Jhonattan Vegas. Houston Open: Marc Leishman. RSM Classic: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Daniel Berger. Sony Open: Kevin Na. American Express: Seamus Power. Farmers Insurance Open: Luke List. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Cameron Tringale. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Bubba Watson. Genesis Invitational: Adam Scott. Honda Classic: Billy Horschel.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long- and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio.) Mayo (@ThePME) was named 2021 Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writing Association, while also being a finalist for Podcast of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year. Mayo won the 2020 FSWA Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award in 2020. He was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.