Greetings golf enthusiast and welcome to another edition of the Fantasy Golf Sommelier. This week we glide on up the state of Florida to the Orlando area and the Arnold Palmer Invitational which is one of my favorite events of the year because of one reason. Arnold Mother F’in Palmer. A lot of you reading are probably new to the game, hell, you might never have even stepped foot on a golf course, but love PGA DFS and that’s why you’re reading. And I love that! It’s all good for the game, but you still have to know that before the Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler’s, and Freddie Couples (trust me, he was cool back in the day) of the world, THE FREAKIN MAN, was Arnie Palmer.
Alert Emoji! This one might get kind of sentimental, but I don’t care, it’s just what happens when I write about Arnie. Those of you who have listened to us long enough know I have a special connection with Arnie having had the opportunity before to be around him on a special day in my youth that I’ll never forget. I won’t get too much into that today, but let’s just say that Arnie is every bit the legend everyone says he is, and he had this magical way of making everyone around him feel as if they were the most important person in the room, not him. Outside of the obvious in golf, Arnie was known for his letters. He wrote letters to thousands of people acknowledging them for countless victories, and not just on the golf course, but victories in life, in being charitable, kind, and just helping others any way they could. My dad got a letter from Arnie. It wasn’t for a golf victory by the way (I know you are all shocked with my pedigree), It was for charitable work, but when you walk into his office and see that letter, on that distinguishable letterhead, you feel proud. I think that’s one of the reasons Arnie got so much satisfaction out of sending so many letters. He wanted that person to feel proud, but not just of their accomplishment, but of themselves, and everything they did to achieve whatever it was that deserved the letter. And despite the fact that his signature was gold to some, it was “fatherly approval” to the King.
This week on the pod I jokingly talked about playing father son alternate shot events with my dad growing up that didn’t exactly go well because let’s be honest, the alternate shot format was invented by the devil. Thinking back on it though, I wish I would have appreciated the time spent more. It’s hard to have that perspective though I guess when you’re 12 years old. Arnie’s father though was a great man as well and I think their relationship was a huge influence on his letters. Having kids of my own, there is nothing like the feeling you get when you know your child recognizes you are proud of them. I think Arnie learned that from his father and knew that just the smallest gesture of appreciation, of feeling proud of his accomplishments, made him into the great golfer, and person that he was, and he wanted everyone to experience that same feeling in the letters he wrote. We can all learn from that,
So now you may ask, isn’t the Fantasy Golf Sommelier article supposed to be about wine and golf? Well yeh, it is, but let’s just be honest, none of us can afford the wine that embodies what Arnold Palmer has given to the game of golf, and I’m ok with that. So for this week, just grab a glass of whatever spirit you love, toast Arnie, and appreciate the wonderful gifts he gave to our beloved golfing word.
Now, on to the Arnold Palmer Invitational plays of the week. As always, we are going to use the classic Wine Spectator 100 point scale for the picks (think of it like a confidence factor):
95-100 Classic: a great wine
90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
80-84 Good: a solid well-made wine
75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
50-74 Not recommended (or a very shitty wine)
So, here we go, let’s mosey on down into the sommeliers’ cellar of fine golf plays for the week…
Rory McIlroy - $11,400 – 98 Points – Rory has been playing extremely well this year and a win seems inevitable so why not in a tournament and on a course he won last year? I mentioned on the pod that Rory absolutely dominated the field last year finishing 1st in almost every stat category including driving distance, Proximity, Putts per Greens in Regulation, and Scrambling. He’s been trending in that same direction again this year ranking 1st in Strokes Gained off the Tee, and top 10 in Greens in Regulation, Driving Distance, and Proximity. There’s a chance we may get a little ownership leverage this week as well with Rory being a potential fade candidate as the highest priced player and defending champion.
Lucas Glover - $8,200 – 94 Points – You have to be really impressed what Lucas has been doing since taking some time off following the incident at the Players last year. Since October, Glover has made 7 of 8 cuts with 3 top ten finishes and nothing worse than 17th at the Safeway. That’s damn solid folks and we continue to get him at a little bit of a discount. Lucas has always been known as a great ball striker but his game is hitting on all cylinders this year as he ranks in the top 20 in Strokes Gained off the Tee, Greens in Regulation, and Scrambling. DB and I were both high on the Fantasy National stat “Good Drives Gained” this week which is basically whether or not a player hits a green/fringe from the fairway or the rough. That’s extremely important this week as the rough here can be quite penal and Lucas ranks number one in the field in Good Drives Gained. All said and done, I am going to continue to ride the coattails of Mr. Glover to some green screens.
Pop the Cork on him and Let it Breathe - New Segment! This is the guy we didn’t mention on the pod but after further review, popped later in the week and is a sneaky good, possibly low owned play.
Patrick Rodgers $6,900 - 91 Points – Rodgers burned a lot of folks early on in the year coming out of the gate with 4 straight missed cuts. Ouch. He seems to have it figured out though now as his last two starts have been much better finishing 15th at Riviera and 30th last week at the Honda (BOTH difficult courses and pretty good fields). He has also been Great Fantastic at Bay Hill the last few years finishing 7th last year and top 20 in 2016. We talk a ton about Fantasy National on the pod, and for good reason, but one of my favorite things about the site is the ability to drill down stats to really tell where a player is in the categories we like for the week. Patrick is a perfect example of this because there has been such a huge difference in his play over his last few rounds versus the start of the year. So if you look at just his last couple tournaments the improvement have been in scrambling and off the tee. He’s also been putting very well ranking in the top 20 in Strokes Gained Putting so if the putter stays hot, I think we get another solid week and tremendous upside from a price standpoint with Rodgers.
The $10 Wine Special - Priced like a Sutter Home, plays like a Caymus!
Byeong Hun An - $7,500 – 89 Points – I’m going to splurge a little this week in the $10 section and take a guy in Ben An that’s probably more like a one shelf higher $11.99 bottle but that’s the kind of extra research you get here in the FGS. Ben An has pretty good course history at Bay Hill having made the cut in all 3 starts including a T14 last year. His form has been fairly decent as well also with a top 20 at the Waste Management and T36 last week at the Honda after a poor start and on a very difficult course. Here’s what I really like about Mr. An though. He sandwiched right there in the middle of the 7K range with Rafa Cabrera Bello, Adam Hadwin and Zach Johnson around him who I think will be higher owned this week. So Ben is a great lower owned pivot play off those guys in tournaments.
Adam Schenk - $6,700 - 84 Points - *Last minute replacement pick! I had Gooch in here but he withdrew unexpectedly so I’m going to go with my 2nd favorite play under 7k and that’s Adam Schenk. Schenk has been rock solid this year on tour having made 13 of 15 cuts yet he still get zero respect by the pricing minions at DraftKings. He’s also coming off a top 30 finish at the Honda Classic that could have been much better had it not been for the stupid penalty the PGA Tour decided to pin on him a day after it actually happened. Adam has also been fantastic on Par 5’s ranking 2nd in the field in Par 5 scoring which will be key this week on a tough Par 72 where you have to take advantage on the fives when you can.
Boone’s Farm Vintage Fade of the Week - Boone’s Farm is basically convenience store wine we drank in college and possibly could kill you (not really, but it’s gross).
Phil Mickelson - $9,200 – 75 Points – Mickelson is making the trip over to Bay Hill for the first time since 2013 and despite a win just a few weeks ago at Pebble Beach (which was just a stupid week of golf anyway), I am just not sold on Phil on a course he has tended to avoid. Phil has said recently that he will tailor his schedule much more now around the best course fits EVEN if that means skipping tournaments like the Players Championship next week where he hasn’t fared that well and dislikes the high rough which he tends to spend a decent amount of time in from most of the time. Well guess what folks, Bay Hill is very similar to Sawgrass as far as the rough is concerned which is one of the reasons we haven’t seen Phil play here in a minute. I love the fact that he is returning to Arnie’s tournament to honor a man that is a legend and did so much for the game, but I’ll be fading Phil until he gets to the more comfy confines of Augusta.