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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational



After yet another exciting week on the PGA Tour, we move on to the Arnold Palmer Invitational as the build up to the year’s first major intensifies. For some, this week will be the final step in their Masters preparation, while for others it’s one of the final chances remaining to qualify. Tiger Woods heads the field here after his excellent performance last week and goes off as the favorite at 11/2.

Bay Hill is a tough golf course. It’s over 7,400 yards with fairway bunkers and thick rough that make it a very demanding test. With many long Par 4’s and Par 3’s on the course (as well as a lot of water), form and confidence with long irons is going to be critical this week, as is Par-5 scoring. Last year, Marc Leishman held off both Charley Hoffman and Kevin Kisner to post 11-under par and take the title by one stroke.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Tiger Woods 11/2
  • Jason Day 12/1
  • Justin Rose 14/1
  • Rory Mcilroy 18/1
  • Rickie Fowler 18/1
  • Tommy Fleetwood 20/1
  • Hideki Matsuyama 25/1

Tiger mania is back. The man who has dominated this event is a best price 6/1 to claim title his ninth title here this week. His performance at Copperhead was enough for punters to declare that he is back, and if you subscribe to that then it’s not exactly a bad price considering his past success at this event. The one crumb of comfort for the rest of the field is that Tiger has yet to dominate the Par 5’s so far this year, something he always managed to do in his prime. If he takes care of the Par 5’s this week then I imagine he’ll win, but the price is still a tad skinny for me.

Instead, I believe there’s a lot of value with a player who was a single-digit favorite just a few weeks ago. Rickie Fowler (18/1, DK Price $10,300) has been a mixed bag so far this year. Because of his popularity he rarely has a lot of value attached to his price, but I think this week he does. At a best price of 20/1, it’s the biggest he has gone off in a long time. A lot of that will have to do with his mediocre performance in Mexico, which was a display that was entirely down to his putting. It was his worst performance on the greens in over four years, and he will be very happy to be returning to Bermuda greens this week on which he has always putted extremely well.

In his last 12 rounds, Fowler sits 15th in Strokes Gained Approaching the Green and 16th in Ball Striking. In his last start in Mexico, he produced statistically his best display with his irons since last year at the Quicken Loans. He is just failing to score at the moment, something that I feel is about to change. Par-4 scoring between 450-500 yards will be important this week with six holes falling in this category. In his past 12 rounds, Fowler sits 10th for efficiency from this range.

Bay Hill is also a place that Fowler has played well in the past. He finished T3 here on his debut back in 2013, and last year he finished solo 12th. Crucially, I don’t see a repeat of what happened on the greens in Mexico. Fowler has gained 11.7 strokes over the field at this tournament on the greens in his four starts. With his iron game returning, greens he loves and now at a far more attractive price than usual, I’m more than happy to back Rickie this week.

Speaking of iron games returning, Adam Scott (35/1, DK Price $8,700) is on fire right now from tee to green. In his last two starts, he has gained a whopping 15.9 strokes over the field from tee to green. The Australian is beginning to peak at the right time, and this may be his final start before Augusta unless he has a great week and qualifies for next week’s WGC. Of course, not everything is peaking at the right time for Scott, and his putting is showing no sign of improvement. Despite his putter, he was able to finish T16 last week. Bay Hill is definitely a course that fits his eye. In his last three starts, he has finishes of 12th-35th-3rd.

Taking care of the Par 5’s this week is going to be vitally important, and Scott is ranked No. 1 in this field for proficiency on Par 5’s over his last eight rounds. On Par 4’s that measure between 450-500 yards, he ranks 3rd in the field for efficiency over his last 12 rounds. If he could just manage to putt average by his standards, he will be right there this week. The rest of his game is ready to compete, and because of that he looks an attractive price.

Another man who is showing signs of hitting top form is Louis Oosthuizen (55/1, DK Price 8,200). The South African has been quiet lately, but a T12 last week where his ball striking shone was a very good sign. Bay Hill should also suit his excellent tee-to-green game well, and it’s no surprise that he has a top-10 finish here on his resume.

Bay Hill is a big golf course, and it provides a serious test of long irons. Oosthuizen should be licking his chops at this test, as recently his long irons have been sensational. For his last 12 rounds, he is ranked 5th in the field for proximity to the hole from 200+ yards and 3rd from 175-200 yards. Overall, the South African is No. 1 in proximity in the same period. Putting has never been an asset for Oosthuizen, but encouragingly he has a positive strokes gained total on the greens of over six strokes on his previous two starts at Bay Hill. At 55/1, he seems a little too big and there are enough signs that Oosthuizen is ready to do some damage this week.

Finally, my last pick looks a very big price. Keegan Bradley (100/1, DK Price $7,300) has been lighting it up tee to green for some time, and it seems this part of his game is at the height of its powers. In his last 24 rounds, the American sits 1st in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, 1st in Ball Striking and 2nd in Strokes Gained Approaching the Green. Unfortunately, he is undoing all of this great work on the greens, where he is putting horrendously. Despite this, I feel 100/1 is too big for a guy who has already placed this season at the Farmers and now returns to a track that is tailor made for his game.

In five outings at Bay Hill, Bradley has never missed a cut and has two top-5 finishes to his name. It’s a course that rewards excellent tee-to-green play, and nobody is doing that better than him at the moment. Whether he can win with his putting being so poor at the moment is questionable, but there is still enough value around Keegan in several markets including top-10 and top-5, as well as adding him to your DraftKings lineups.

Recommended Plays

  • Rickie Fowler 18/1, DK Price $10,300
  • Adam Scott 35/1, DK Price $8,700
  • Louis Oosthuizen 55/1, DK Price $8,200
  • Keegan Bradley 100/1, DK Price $7,300
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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play



The second World Golf Championship of the year begins this week for what will be the final stop before The Masters for the majority of players in the field. As always with WGC events, the field is stacked — only Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose are missing from the world’s top-10. With an earlier start than usual, 16 groups of four will battle it out in a round-robin format starting Wednesday. The winner of each group will advance to the last 16, which will complete in a straight knockout format from there on in.

Austin Country Club has held the event since 2016, and it’s been a course that has offered up lots of excitement so far. Expect more of the same this week, with four reachable Par 5s on offer as well as a drivable Par-4. The Par-71 course is a modest 7,043 yards with plenty of elevation changes and a mix of tight, tree-lined fairways on the opening nine. The fairways on the back 9 are more generous. Some of the key stats that I’m focusing on this week include Par-5 Scoring, Proximity to the Hole Inside 125 yards and Birdie or Better Percentage, which is always important in match play. Last year, a red-hot Dustin Johnson beat Jon Rahm in the final 1 up, which was his third-consecutive victory at the time.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Rory McIlroy 7/1
  • Dustin Johnson 8/1
  • Justin Thomas 10/1
  • Jon Rahm 12/1
  • Jason Day 14/1
  • Jordan Spieth 20/1
  • Phil Mickelson 20/1

For me, this is the most difficult event on the calendar to predict. Over 18 holes, any player in the field is capable of beating anyone else. We saw just that last year when Hideto Tanihara defeated Jordan Spieth 4&2 and Soren Kjeldsen took down Rory Mcilroy 2&1. For that reason, it’s certainly an event that I’d advise to play conservatively, especially before we reach the knockout phase. Despite the unpredictability of some of the results, however, recently it’s been an event that has been won by the world’s elite. Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day (twice) have claimed the title in the past four years.

From the top of the board, it’s multiple champion Jason Day (14/1, DK Price $9,200) who gets my vote. The Australian has played a limited schedule so far this year, and he seems to be flying under the radar for the year’s first major. I find the lack of attention surprising. He has a win and a second-place finish to his name already in only three starts this year. Last week at Bay Hill he finished T22, where he appeared a little rusty on the opening couple of days before shaking it off and shooting an impressive 67 on Saturday.

Austin Country Club is a course that undoubtedly suits Day. He dominated the event in 2016 when he was playing his absolute best golf, and he was very unfortunate that he was unable to defend last year on account of his mother’s health. It was an issue that appeared to effect his entire season, but there is no doubt that the signs are very good for Day in regards to 2018. Mainly, because he has the magic touch back with the putter. In 2016, he had one of the greatest putting years of recent times, and albeit early on in the season, he is currently on course to match it. Day leads the field in putting for the season by a decent margin, and on the slick bermuda greens of Austin Country Clubs, where he has memories of holing just about everything two years ago, it could play a huge factor yet again this week.

Along with the Queenslander’s fabulous form on the greens, Day is dominating the Par 5’s, where he sits second in the field over his last 12 rounds. Day loves to play aggressive golf, and it’s one of the reasons the match play format suits him so much. The odd blow-up hole is not the disaster that it would be in stroke play, and he has the ability to rack up birdies fast. So far this season, Day is third in this field for birdie or better percentage.

Day will be the favorite to advance from Group 8, which contains James Hahn, Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Dufner, but the unpredictability of the match play format means it will be far from easy. Should he do so, however, he may be an extremely difficult man to stop, and 14/1 is not a bad price on him repeating his heroics of 2016.

Patrick Reed’s (30/1, DK Price $7,700) return to form has been long overdue. With back-to-back weeks finishing in the top-10, he should be feeling confident in a format that in the past he has blown hot and cold in. Despite his colossus performances in the Ryder Cup, the WGC-Matchplay has been a frustrating event for the Texan. He has yet to make it past the Round of 16, but he seems to be rejuvenated by the return of his idol, Tiger Woods, to the PGA Tour. We’ve seen a far more aggressive Patrick Reed as of late.

With the top seed in his group being Jordan Spieth, there’s speculation that their matchup could be a fiery one. Last week, Patrick Reed was recorded saying that he guessed he needed to be Jordan Spieth to get a free drop after he was left fuming by a ruling. Personally, I don’t think there will be any hostility from either player, but perhaps the attention it has received over the last day will fire up Reed, who seems to produce his best when in the spotlight.

All facets of Reed’s game are firing at the moment. He is fourth in this field for Strokes Gained Tee to Green, Strokes Gained Around the Green and Strokes Gained Total over his last eight rounds. Not withstanding the volatility of 18-hole matchups, there is a sense that Spieth may be a little vulnerable right now. Reed will be relishing the opportunity to take him on in what could possibly be an important Game 3. At 30/1, there is a confidence about Reed at the moment that I like, and it could see him finally deliver in a format that he has adapted to so well in The Ryder Cup.

The star name in Group 7 is the current Masters Champion Sergio Garcia, but I’m willing to take him on this week with Xander Schauffele (66/1, DK Price $7,400). The 2017 Rookie of the Year has been playing well as of late with three-consecutive top-20 finishes. From that period, he scores well in the key statistics, which should bode well for him this week. The Californian is 10th for Strokes Gained on Par 5s for his last 12 rounds, and on a course where wedge play is vitally important, his short irons seem to be in excellent shape. Over the same period, Schauffele is 15th in the field for Proximity to the Hole from 100-125 yards and 16th from 75-100 yards.

He will have to overcome Garcia, as well as Shubhankar Sharma and Dylan Frittelli to advance to the next phase. Garcia has never looked comfortable at Austin Country Club, however, and I think Schauffele may be the best option to pounce on any weakness he shows. Schauffele does not rank outside 30th in this field for his last 12 rounds in any major statistic, and he is eighth overall for Strokes Gained Total.

Last but not least is Webb Simpson (100/1, DK Price $7,800), who is in Group 15 alongside Pat Perez, Gary Woodland and Si-Woo Kim. I think it’s fair to say that this looks to be one of the most unpredictable of the lot. Yet at 100/1, it was an easy enough decision to add Simpson to my stable this week, who just like Xander is performing well in the key statistics.

The former U.S. Open Champion is 17th in this field over his past 12 rounds on Par 5s, but it’s been his wedge play that really got my attention. Over the same period, Simpson ranks seventh for proximity to the hole from 100-125 yards and 15th from 75-100 yards. Some other good signs for Simplson include his putting, as he currently sits 11th for the season in Strokes Gained Putting. His scoring average for the season is also an impressive 69.5, which is seventh on the PGA Tour. At 100/1, it seems worth a small investment in what I’m expecting to be another roller coaster of an event with plenty of surprises.

Recommended Plays

  • Jason Day 14/1, DK Price $9,200
  • Patrick Reed 30/1, DK Price $7,700
  • Xander Schauffele 66/1, DK Price $7,400
  • Webb Simpson 100/1, DK Price $7,800
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Opinion & Analysis

Paige Spiranac explains her decision to pose for the 2018 SI Swimsuit



During the PXG 0311 Gen2 iron launch event, I caught up with Paige Spiranac to talk about a variety of topics including her advice to young girls in the golf world, how her life has changed since becoming a golfing celebrity, her relationship with PXG, her decision to stop playing professional golf, and she explains why she wanted to pose for the SI Swimsuit issue.

Enjoy my interview above!

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Opinion & Analysis

Bag Chatter: An Interview With 36 Golf Co.



Bag Chatter is a series of interviews that spotlights brands around the golf industry and the people behind them. We’re looking to make this a regular thing, so please comment and share through your medium of choice. If you have a brand and are interested in participating in these interviews, you can email for consideration. This interview is with Jay Vogler of 36 Golf Co (Pictured above caddying for business partner Chevy Mayne).

Talk to me about 36 Golf Co. What are you guys all about?

We’re all about getting people out to the course, having fun and not taking golf too seriously. We’re trying to create a brand for people who love the game, but aren’t necessarily trying to turn pro. The whole idea started when I was walking through a hockey shop and saw all these hockey lifestyle brands and I was like, “Why doesn’t this exist in golf?” We’re mainly targeting the 18-35 crowd; folks that kind of have a laid-back approach. We think it doesn’t matter if you wear cargo shorts and a T-shirt as long as you’re respecting the game and taking care of the course. It’s more important to replace your divots, repair your ball marks and keep up with the pace of play than it is to wear a collared shirt.

There are a lot of people launching brands in the soft goods world these days (clothing, towels, head covers, etc.). As a result, that world can be a little crowded. What makes 36 Golf Co. different from everyone else out there?

Our corner of the market, if you will, is trying to create a community of people who see the game the same way we do. We want to see the game grow, especially among the millennial age group. We think participation is lacking in that demographic, and we want to play a part in making the game a little more accessible for them. We want people to connect over our attitude toward golf. If you see a guy walking down the street wearing a 36 hat, we want you to think he’s approachable and he’s down to hang out and talk about golf and life without being pretentious. We’re out there to lower some of the barriers to entering the game.

Since I know you’re all about growing the game, what do you think it needs? What do you think is the biggest “problem” with golf that’s keeping people away from playing it or trying it?

I think perception is probably the biggest thing honestly. I picked up the game five years ago when I was 22 and I came from skateboarding and snowboarding. When I got into the game, a lot of people make a weird face and were like, “You play golf?!” It’s totally a perception thing, but once you get past that, it’s just such a fun game. From the first time I flushed a 7-iron at a driving range, I was hooked, but a lot of people don’t even get that far. We’re just trying to lower the barriers to the game and put a community out there.

36 Golf Co. “The Looper” Meshback Hat

If you could change one thing about the game of golf, what would you change? It doesn’t have to be something in the USGA rule book necessarily.

Obviously, I would get rid of dress codes. That’s my big bugaboo with the game. If I was just going about my daily life, I wouldn’t be wearing pants and a collared shirt and I think a lot of people would be in that same boat. If we let people come as they are, I bet participation would go way up. Appearance, respectfully, only matters so much. You can wear a collared shirt and still be a jerk and not repair your ball marks.

When you got the idea to start this company, how did you actually go about making that happen? Did you just google shirt suppliers or something? What was that process like?

Yeah, I pretty much spent the first month on Google looking for suppliers. I have a design background, so we did the design and the website ourselves, so that was good. Finding the right suppliers who were willing to work with us and had quality stuff was difficult.

What’s the biggest road block you’ve experienced with 36 Golf Co.? Launching it, marketing it, logistics, billing, whatever…

Starting a business in general was just…so much to take in. It’s overwhelming. Accounting, problems with suppliers… but if you don’t just start it then you’ll never know. I know it’s a cliché, but you gotta start somewhere. It’s not that any one thing was so difficult. It was just the amount of things that come your way.

36 Golf Co “The Sniper” Snap Back Hat and “Fleck” T Shirt

What are you most optimistic about with 36 Golf Co? What’s got you excited these days?

We just went to a show this past weekend in Toronto, and we just met a lot of people who really seemed to get what we were about and were excited to be a part of it themselves. That’s what gets you excited; when people really understand your vibe and want to be a part of that community and rep your brand for no other reason than it resonates with them. That’s what it’s all about.

Let’s play a game. Imagine golf was like baseball and you got to pick a “walk-up song” when you got to the first tee. What song are you going with?

Haha. I’ve been listening to a lot of Jurassic 5 lately, so we’ll go with “What’s Golden.” I feel like that’d be a pretty good hype song.

If you could only play one course for the rest of your life, which one would it be? It has to be a course you have played before or have access to, though. Don’t just say Augusta.

There’s a little course called Bathurst Glen just north of Toronto. I used to work there, but it kicks my butt every time I go. It’s a friendly spot, which I enjoy. I struggle playing really nice golf courses. They kind of stress me out.

Chevy Mayne of 36 Golf Co. in the “OG” T Shirt and “Frost Delay” Snapback Hat

It’s kind of old news, but I’ll ask the following since it’s right up your alley. What was your take on the LPGA dress code announcement last year?

Oh man. I was like, “What the hell are you thinking?” You know, when they said that I was showing it to my girlfriend who’s a non-golfer and she was like, “I don’t understand what the problem is.” It’s not like they’re wearing thongs or something. Obviously, I think that golf needs to be tailored to welcome people into the game, and I think that sent the wrong message.

Lastly, what do you guys have in the works? Let us know what’s coming from 36 Golf Co.

We have limited resourced with just two people, but we have tons of plans. Our main products right now are our hats, which are mainly modern styles. You know, snapbacks and flat brims. We also have T-shirts and quarter zips available. All of that is on our website at We will be getting some golf shirts in soon, which we are calling our “collared T-shirt” this spring, so that’s going to be the most exciting launch for us in the near future. Follow us on Instagram @thirty6ix_golf_co and on twitter @Thirty6ix_golf to keep up with our brand and join our community.

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19th Hole