2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks: Our Staff’s 13 Favorite Outright Bets, Sleepers, Matchups for Bay Hill
Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR. Pictured: Byeong Hun An
- Looking for Arnold Palmer Invitational betting picks? Our staff compiled their favorites, including outright winners, matchup bets, props and more.
- Bay Hill has water at every turn but still favors bombers.
- See our staff's best bets for the Arnold Palmer Invitational below.
The PGA TOUR’s annual jaunt through Florida continues this week with the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
Rory McIlroy is the clear favorite at +550 ($10 bet would win $55) with Tommy Fleetwood (+1400), Bryson DeChambeau (+1600) and Xander Schauffele (+1800) next in line.
Other big names are a bit further down the board like Brooks Koepka at +2700 and Justin Rose at +3400.
Check out our favorite sleepers, matchup bets and props for the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational:
Arnold Palmer Invitational Best Bets
Scottie Scheffler +9000 ($10 bet would win $900)
The term “sleeper” is always ambiguous, but at this undervalued price, I’ll maintain that Scheffler is sleepier than he should be. In his first eight starts of the season, the University of Texas product posted four finishes of seventh-or-better.
Sure, he hit a little lull, missing a couple of cuts on the West Coast, but results in his last two starts of T-30 at the Genesis Invitational and T-26 at the WGC-Mexico Championship on good courses against solid fields should offer some good vibes heading into this one. I’d recommend jumping on Scheffler now, because you won’t find him at this number much longer.
Patrick Rodgers +17500
Rodgers is a guy who traditionally struggles with his approach game but was able to gain around 3.5 strokes on the field in that category last week at the Honda Classic.
Usually, Rodgers relies on his driver and the putter to compete, so if he’s found some form with the irons and can sync it all together this week, he’ll have a chance to contend.
Wyndham Clark +10000; Top-20 Finish +380
Two of the biggest keys to success at Bay Hill are Par-5 scoring and the ability to putt well on these lightning fast Bermuda greens. If we include all players in this field over the last 100 rounds, Wyndham ranks fifth in Par 5 Strokes Gained and ranks second in Strokes Gained: Putting (per Fantasy National).
Clark has been known as one of the longest hitters and best putters since he turned pro but his iron play has underwhelmed. He may have found something last week, though, as Clark gained 3 strokes with his approach and finished inside the top-15 for the second year in a row at the Honda Classic.
This is Clark’s API debut, but this course would seem to be more suited to his game than the shorter track at PGA National. I’m backing Clark to stay on form as he looks for his fourth straight top-20 finish.
Abraham Ancer +6000
Ancer is relatively undervalued at this number considering he boasts the 16th-best Long-Term Adjusted Round Score in the field. After back-testing several metrics at Bay Hill, there are few key stats I am targeting this week. Some of those include golfers who excel on approach and have strong games off the tee. Ancer fits both of those, ranking 26th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 12th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee over his last 36 rounds (Fantasy National).
Bay Hill has some of the hardest par 3s and 4s on the PGA TOUR as they ranked as the seventh and sixth-hardest holes in terms of scoring average last year. So, minimizing the damage on those holes will be critical. Fortunately, Ancer ranks 11th and 26th in par-3 and par-4 efficiency, so I like his chances of avoiding any potential blowups. He already has a second-place finish to his name this year — maybe he can get the win at the API.
Top English Player: Matt Fitzpatrick (+500)
If you watched last week’s Honda Classic from home and thought it felt like a pseudo-major championship, you weren’t alone. Those contending for the title — which was won at a total of only 6-under — were likely physically and mentally exhausted afterward.
Of course, that list includes a pair of Englishmen, Tommy Fleetwood (+200 in this prop) and Lee Westwood (+650), each of whom could be excused if they’re still feeling the aftereffects of last weekend.
Insert Fitz, the third-favorite in this prop (also behind Justin Rose at +430), who just happens to be the returning runner-up at this event. He’s played good-but-not-great so far this year, but I envision him starting to trend in the right direction very soon — starting this week, in fact.
Bubba Watson to Finish Top-20 (+225)
Bubba is riding a good run of form where he’s finished inside the top-20 in three of his last four starts. I also like him on par 72 courses that give him a chance to exploit his advantage on par 5s.
He’s finished inside the top-20 in three of his last six starts here so I think getting more than 2-1 is a fair price.
Rory McIlroy to Finish Top-5 (+125)
The current World No. 1 has everything you need to contend at Bay Hill, including his preferred right-to-left ball-flight, so it’s no wonder that his last three starts here ended like this: 6th-1st-4th.
What’s even more impressive is that McIlroy has finished inside the Top-5 in his last six events, dating back to The ZOZO Championship in October.
You can knock Rory’s Sunday performances, but like any other elite player, he finds himself at the top of the leaderboard seemingly every time he plays an event.
Abraham Ancer to Finish Top-20 (+300)
I’ll double down on Ancer as a top-20 bet for all the reasons I mentioned before. He ranks 11th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green over his last 36 rounds, and his Recent and Long-Term Adjusted Round Scores both rank inside the top 20 in this field.
More importantly, he’s undervalued as a top-20 bet at +300. At those odds, you only need Ancer to finish inside the top-20 25% of the time to break even. At comparable odds over the long run, I’d expect this bet to come out ahead. Over his last 33 events, Ancer has a top-20 finish in 33% of them.
Note: Golf matchups are assigned moneyline odds. If Rory McIlroy is listed as a -130 favorite to beat Tiger Woods, that means you’d need to bet $13 to win $10 on McIlroy. If Woods is listed at +110 in that same matchup, a $10 bet would net $11. For more information on how to bet on golf, click here.
Henrik Stenson (+102) over Jason Day
For a guy who’s constantly listing his back ailments and the lengthy treatments needed to alleviate them, Jason Day has actually played better than I would’ve suspected so far this year. He had a T-16 at Torrey Pines and a solo fourth at Pebble Beach before MCing at Riviera. Even so, he’s down to the 45th-ranked player in the world and there shouldn’t be much reason for optimism.
Stenson isn’t a guy I love long-term this year, but as a transplant to the Orlando area, he does love this home game. In his last eight starts at Bay Hill, he’s finished 17th-or-better on seven occasions, including a second-place finish, a third, a fourth and a fifth. Another solid performance like that should be enough to cash this bet at plus-money this week.
Ian Poulter (+105) over Kevin Na
Bay Hill is definitely a bomber’s course given the length on both the par 4s and par 5s. And yet, I’m finding some value here on a matchup prop between two short hitters.
Na has some good finishes on this course, although we’re talking five years ago or more at this point. Over his last three appearances, he’s missed two cuts and placed 36th. Poulter, meanwhile, hasn’t missed a cut at Bay Hill since 2009; he likely doesn’t have the distance to truly compete – Na likely doesn’t either – but he’ll grind out four solid rounds.
Though both have a nearly identical average Driving Distance mark over the last 75 weeks, Poulter actually has consistently done much better on par 4s and par 5s. They might be on the fairway at the same place, but Poulter has done better with his long irons getting into position. They’re nearly the same in terms of long-term putting, so that’s not really a factor.
Poulter is just the superior player according to their long-term metrics, and I trust him to be able to figure out these long holes more than I do Na.
This should be a coin flip at worst and Poulter likely favored, but he’s actually a dog at most books; DraftKings has him at +105 vs. Na. I’ll take that plus value.
Jason Day (-106) over Tony Finau
Day is always an injury concern but he’s played well so far in a limited schedule this season and will be comfortable on a course where he’s won. Finau is still trying to figure out the Florida swing and has never finished inside the top-20 at Bay Hill. Finau already struggles with the putter and issues with the flat stick tend to show up more on Bermuda greens.
Sungjae Im (-115) over Patrick Reed
Normally, I like to fade recent winners, especially if they are coming off their first win on the PGA TOUR. But Sungjae Im is not your typical 21-year-old finding his way on Tour. He notched a third-place finish in his Bay Hill debut in 2019 and has had his best putting performances in his young career on Bermuda greens.
Reed is coming off a win at the WGC-Mexico thanks to a hot putter. He gained 12 strokes on the field on the Poa greens at Chapultepec. However, he’s been uninspiring in three of his four starts here (MC-52-7-50).
Windy conditions are forecasted this week and both players are in the same tee time wave, which takes away any potential draw bias. I expect Sungjae’s superior ball-striking to carry over from last week and be the difference in this matchup.
Xander Schauffele (+100) over Hideki Matsuyama
I like both Xander and Deki this week. In fact, I have outrights on both of them at 25-1 and 20-1, respectively. But, since Xander is sitting at even-money, I’m willing to back him that price. He’s in excellent form, rankings first in Strokes Gained: Approach and 13th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee over his last 24 rounds, which suits Bay Hill perfectly.
Additionally, 32% of approach shots at Bay Hill come from 200-plus yards and Xander ranks first in proximity to the hole from that range. Comparing Xander vs. Deki is definitely splitting hairs because they’re both elite players, but at even-money, I’ll back Xander. I wouldn’t bet this past -110.