2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational Odds, Picks for Will Zalatoris, Matt Fitzpatrick, More
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Will Zalatoris.
- Jon Rahm is favored in his first appearance at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week.
- Jason Sobel sees value further down the leaderboard this week at Bay Hill.
- Check out his tournament preview and betting picks below.
Click arrow to expand 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational odds via Caesars
2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational Odds
|Erik van Rooyen||+7000|
|Si Woo Kim||+8000|
|Min Woo Lee||+20000|
ORLANDO – There have been four first-time winners on the PGA TOUR over the past five weeks and if that seems like an uncommonly large amount, there’s a good reason: Because it is.
By comparison, starting in January 2021, it took 25 tournaments before there were that many first-timers who broke into the winner’s circle. The preceding year, it took 20 events; the year before that, 16; and the year before that, 21.
What’s the reason behind this recent run? It’s tough to chalk it up to much more than coincidence, but there are similarities between the four winners – notably, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if we’d been told that Luke List, Tom Hoge, Scottie Scheffler and Sepp Straka would each finally triumph this year. Perhaps only Scheffler was at or near the top of the theoretical “best player without a victory” list, but it’s not like the others popped up out of nowhere.
And it might not stop this week, either.
I’ve got another player seeking his first career victory listed as my favorite outright play for this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, and like those others, it’s one which will hardly come as a surprise when he does finally win.
Let’s get right to the picks for the API, plus selections at the bottom for the opposite-field Puerto Rico Open, as well.
One player to win the tournament.
Will Zalatoris (+2800)
The statheads (myself included) love an event where putting stats are neutralized and this one might fit that profile as well as any on the annual schedule.
The following numbers are where the top-nine players on last year’s API leaderboard ranked in strokes gained putting by week’s end: 21st-37th-13th-22nd-5th-18th-4th-41st-58th.
Look, I’m not about to suggest that this tourney is all about ball-striking and only ball-striking; it’s still better to make putts than miss them and there’s a non-zero chance that somebody can hit the ball only moderately well and roll in putts from everywhere to claim this title.
What the numbers show us, however, is that the driver and irons will offer players a bigger edge this week than any putting advantage. Enter Zalatoris, who in his short time as a world-class player has proven himself as an elite-level ball-striker with an often-balky, tough-to-watch putting stroke. What we’ve found so far is that this combination is often enough to get him into the mix, but hasn’t been enough to get him a victory, as evidenced by finishes of 26th-2nd-6th in his three starts already this year.
He did come close in that middle one, losing to List in a playoff at Torrey Pines, which hints at another contention coming soon. In his first career API start last year, he finished T-10, which is enough to confirm my suspicions about his game setting up well for this tourney.
Potential selections for one-and-done options.
Keegan Bradley (+13000)
It should go without saying that I like Zalatoris, my favorite outright play, for OADs; same for my top-5/10/20 guys listed below. Those are the first names I’ll ponder when making my final selections this week, but I’ll offer a few others here and this list starts with Bradley.
His three top-10s at this event include a second- and third-place finish and his lone MC in 10 starts came in his first one, way back in 2011. Like Zalatoris, he’s a player I often like to target when that balky putter is neutralized and other clubs are greater determinants of scoring. That alone might help explain his strong record here over the years.
Hideki Matsuyama (+2800)
Unlike the player I’m about to name next, there are plenty of solid options at which to use Matsuyama throughout the year, but this one is certainly among them. He plays and practices at the nearby Golden Bear Club at Keene’s Point, just a few minutes down the road, so Hideki should be familiar not only with Bay Hill, but the recent conditions for this tourney.
He’s still yet to reach his ceiling here, too. While he’s never missed the cut in six starts, only a T-6 in 2016 ranks as a top-15 finish, so there’s definitely room for improvement.
Adam Scott (+3500)
I’ve often said this about Louis Oosthuizen, but it goes for Scott, too: There are some players who are brutally tough to figure out for OADs and these guys are right near the top of the list.
Think about it. Do you really want to plug in Scott for a major championship these days over so many other big-time talents? I certainly wouldn’t trust him, if I only have one pick.
Do you want to save him for the playoffs? Considering he only made it to the second one two years ago and the first one last year, that doesn’t seem like a fruitful strategy.
Do you want to play him in a smaller event against an inferior field? That might make sense on the surface, but he doesn’t play many of these types of tourneys and doesn’t seem too motivated when he does.
All of which means there aren’t a whole lot of places left where we’d want to pencil in the Aussie, but this one should fit. In 11 previous starts, he has eight made cuts, including a pair of third-place results. Fresh off a T-4 at Riviera in his latest start, he should own some momentum.
Cameron Tringale (+6500)
If you want to capitalize on that first-time winner narrative, but don’t want to burn Willy Z., then Tringale remains as one of the best in the biz without a victory. A late WD from last week’s event, Tringale has been putting together an on/off/on/off pattern that otherwise suggests this would be one of those off weeks, with results of 2nd-MC-7th-MC-3rd-MC-13th in his last seven starts.
If you can look past that pattern, though, you’ll find a player who was T-31 last year after a five-year absence, despite posting scores of 75 in the second and fourth rounds.
One player to finish top-five.
Keith Mitchell (+700 for top-five)
While I realize my weekly previews are getting dangerously close to looking like a Keith Mitchell fan page, there’s zero reason to hop off the bandwagon now. In five starts so far in 2022, Mitchell now owns four results of 12th -or-better, including a T-9 last week at the Honda. Now he’ll head to API, where he has finishes of T-5 and T-6 in three career starts.
The truth is, I think his driving prowess should help him more at Bay Hill than it did at PGA National, where he won his lone PGA TOUR title three years ago, as strokes gained off the tee should serve as a more relevant metric this week.
(Which is saying a lot, I realize, since Sepp Straka won while leading the field in that very category.) And just in case all of that wasn’t enough to convince you, let’s also factor in the narrative or Mitchell sticking around after his final round on Sunday to congratulate his college teammate on the victory. That should at least be worth a few karma points.
One player to finish top-10.
Matt Fitzpatrick (+200 for top-10)
One of my favorite plays on the board for the Genesis Invitational two weeks ago, an early-week illness led Fitzpatrick to a pre-tee time withdrawal, at least refunding all wagers placed on him. Presumably healthy now, he’ll head to another track where he’s owned a modicum of success, posting three straight top-10s at Bay Hill, with eight of those 12 rounds under-par on the deviously difficult venue.
That falls in line with the usual narrative on Fitz, which suggests that he’s most in his element when there are tough scoring conditions and birdies are at a premium. Last year’s T-10 came when he ranked nearly dead-last on approach shots; anything just in the middle of the pack should have him contending for the title this week.
One player to finish top-20.
Carlos Ortiz (+450 for top-20)
Somewhat curiously, there have been some big bets on Ortiz lately – the kind you see on social media which make you think to yourself, “What am I missing here that someone else apparently sees?” There hasn’t yet been reason for FOMO, as he’s started his year with results of MC-70th-33rd-39th, but there is a sense that he should (or at least could) start playing some better golf very soon.
Ortiz owns a pair of top-30 results in three previous starts at this one, however he is the type of player who can get hot with his irons without any notice. Prior to his lone win at the 2020 Houston Open, he’d finished 35th-48th-MC in his three previous starts. Before his runner-up at Mayakoba last year, he’d gone WD-25th-47th; and before his runner-up at that same event two years earlier, he was 4th-37th-40th.
Some players are momentum types, who need solid performance to bleed into better results, but he appears to be the kind of player who can find something and suddenly climb the board. I’ll play it conservatively here with a top-20, but he should certainly be on the radar screen.
One player to finish top-30.
As they say in the stock market, past performance is not an indicator of future results. That might go double for golf, where history rarely repeats itself, which is why we so rarely chase defending champions.
And yet, every so often there’s a trend which whispers a message to us about ignoring everything we know. After all, there are certain horses for certain courses – and Wallace appears to be one here. With top-25 finishes in all three previous API starts, I’m not suggesting a massive performance – especially after a pair of MCs in his first two U.S. starts of the year, with a scoring average of 74.22 in those four rounds – only one equal to his previous results at this venue.
One player to finish top-40.
Dylan Frittelli (+140 for top-40)
One of the secrets to betting on golf – and an obvious one – is sniffing out those players whose performance hasn’t quite caught up to their potential, at least recently, resulting in longer odds on a regular basis. Frittelli is one of those players, though results of 26th-or-better in three of his last four starts (including a T-16 last week) signal that an overall shortening of his odds could be coming very shortly.
I’ve listed him here for top-40, though I don’t mind playing him up to a top-20 and maybe even top-10 this week, while also using him throughout DFS lineups. The books are going to catch onto him soon, so get in on Frittelli while it’s still a buyer’s market.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
With a victory here in 2018 and finishes of 11th-or-better in six of his seven appearances, you’ll want to have some sort of Rory investment this week, though it’s difficult to pay up in outrights and props for a player whose game seems so volatile at the moment.
Perhaps results of 3rd-12th to start the year on the DP World Tour and a T-10 at Riviera in his first PGA TOUR appearance should have us believing otherwise, but McIlroy is always a player who on any given week could be all-or-nothing – and anything in between.
That said, I do like him better as a top-of-the-lineup anchor than Jon Rahm (making his first API start), Viktor Hovland (three previous starts, all with finishes in the 40s) and Bryson DeChambeau (making his first start after an injury).
Hideki Matsuyama and Scottie Scheffler each have similar equity in this range, but Rory’s – dare we say it? – Tiger-like history here (if not Tiger-like trophy case) should make him the favored choice if you decide to play one of the studs.
A lower-priced option for DFS.
Min Woo Lee
Last year’s Scottish Open winner has had little success in his limited U.S.-based appearances so far, including missed cuts in two starts this year. That said, he’s an excellent driver of the golf ball and could find Bay Hill more to his liking than those courses he’s already played.
You’ll need to suspend a little disbelief here and ignore those past performances, but if you’re building a top-heavy lineup that needs a player with potential further down the list, this is one which could pay off handsomely if he finds a way to take advantage of his skillset.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Marc Leishman (+3500 for FRL)
With a win (2017), a runner-up (2020), a third (2011) and top-25 finishes in half of his dozen API starts, you’ll likely want some sort of investment on Leishman this week. I certainly don’t mind a full-tourney play on a guy who hasn’t missed a cut all season, including results of 15th-16th in his last two appearances, but there might be even more value in taking Leishman for a fast start.
In eight opening rounds this season, he’s broken 70 on five occasions and hasn’t posted a single over-par round, good enough for a scoring average of 68.50, which ranks 28th. Throw in six under-par openers at this tourney and there’s a nice little convergence which suggests we should expect a solid Thursday once again.
One player who should beat comparable players.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+5000)
My fave outright from last week’s column, C-Bez showed patience over the first two rounds, posting three birdies, three bogeys and starting with rounds of 69-71. Then came a weekend of volatility in the form of a birdie-free third-round 75 and a bogey-free final-round 66.
Now the Bay Hill member heads to a home game of sorts, where he’s shown a proclivity for that familiarity, finishing T-7 and T-18 in two previous appearances at this event. I’m backing off Bezuidenhout from an outright standpoint, as I’m still a bit leery of his ceiling, but his floor remains high, especially on tough golf courses, which makes him a nice target for head-to-head wagers this week.
The Big Fade
Sungjae Im (+2200)
Full disclosure: This spot was initially reserved for Bryson DeChambeau; in fact, I’m just a bit proud of the fact that I was able to get this preview posted before he was able to WD on Monday morning.
It’s a shame that last year’s champion won’t be back to defend his title for a few different reasons. The first is that the great people here in Orlando won’t get an opportunity to witness him hitting those mammoth tee shots again, even if his idea of “driving the green” on the par-5 sixth hole was really just a more aggressive line over the water that didn’t exactly travel anywhere near the green. But I digress.
The other reason it’s a shame is because there really aren’t many other top players in this field who deserve the full-fade treatment. As I mentioned earlier, Rahm has never played here and Hovland doesn’t own a great record, but those are each fade-at-your-own-risk ventures.
Instead, I’ll put Sungjae here and not really feel great about it, considering he’s got a pair of third-place finishes and a T-21 here in three starts. That’s likely why his price is so short this week, though his price being so short is exactly why he’s a bit of a fade for me. Coming off a missed cut at the Honda – another place where he’s played well (including a victory) in the past – I simply can’t bend my mind around paying a shorter outright price on him than a guy like Matsuyama or Zalatoris.
If you want to use him in DFS or perhaps as an OAD selection, I don’t hate it, but I think there are a lot of outrights with much better value than chasing Im this week.
Also Receiving Votes
Other players who should provide value.
Jason Kokrak (+5000), Seamus Power (+6000), Jason Day (+6500), Corey Conners (+7000), Cameron Young (+10000), Branden Grace (+25000), Alex Smalley (+25000)
The Other PGA TOUR Event
Puerto Rico Open
You know you’re a true degenerate if you scrolled all the way to the bottom of this column for this week’s Puerto Rico plays, which doesn’t quite fit the category of “Off Tour,” as the opposite-field tourney is still very much a PGA TOUR staple with many of the same perks as the API.
First, a warning: You’re going to see some names you haven’t seen in a while when you peruse this entry list. Like, guys you weren’t sure still played golf. I mean, guys you weren’t sure were even still alive. Carlos Franco! Daniel Chopra! Ryuji Imada! Smylie Kaufman! Carl Pettersson! Fade those players, but don’t be afraid to make some plays up and down the board here.
I’ll start the card with Rafa Cabrera Bello, who isn’t that far removed from being a perennial top-50 player (once ranked as high as 16th) and world-class ball-striker, with an overseas win and runner-up amongst his last eight starts. It wasn’t so long ago that RCB might’ve considered a tourney like this to be beneath him, but just like Branden Grace last year, he can use this one as a stepping stone back toward prominence.
Next on the list is Joseph Bramlett, who appears to be coming into his prime at the age of 33. He started the year with finishes of 20th-33rd and while three straight outside the top-50 doesn’t offer too much reason for optimism, perhaps all he needs is a shot against an inferior field such as this one.
Next up is Mark Hubbard, fresh off a couple of solid starts on both the PGA TOUR and KFT. Same goes for Chase Seiffert, who often tends to play his best golf on Bermuda greens. David Lipsky has won on just about every major circuit except the PGA TOUR, but I love that he knows how to close out a title contention. Brian Stuard received more attention for his nerve-racking pre-shot routine last week than anything else, but he’s a solid veteran who owns a T-4 in 2013 among his previous four starts at this one.
And then I’ll close it out with a couple of fliers: Trevor Werbylo is a name I keep hearing about on KFT and while his prodigious length might not be a huge advantage at Coco Beach, he did finish T-7 in the neighboring Bahamas just a few weeks ago; and then there’s Chris Gotterup, a University of Oklahoma standout by way of Rutgers, who recently won a collegiate event in Puerto Rico to get into this field and is currently ranked No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
He joined “Gravy and the Sleeze” on PGA TOUR Radio last week and said he’s playing with “house money” here. That would be figuratively, of course, as he remains an amateur, but there’s nothing better than winning money off a player when he literally can’t win any for himself.