10-Fer: Arnold Palmer Invitational

by: C.A. Schmidt Staff Writer

It's time to sign up for our One and Done game and/or get your private league setup. Our season begins with Bay Hill on this week. We've got big cash and prizes to league and overall winners. We've also launched our 'Research' section, which should provide you with the info you need to make your picks.

So if you like what we're doing on the site here, we hope you'll play a game or two and support us!

It's time for Arnold Palmer's invitational and players helicoptering in from their 10,000-square-foot McMansions in nearby gated communities. It's also time for six hours of commentary on Tiger's achilles and dominance in this event (six-time winner), as well as Robert Gamez's holed 7-iron to beat Greg Norman in 1971 (err, 1990). Quick aside: did you know Gamez won twice that year and only made $460,000? Ryo Ishikawa made $380k for finishing second in the Puerto Rico Open a couple of weeks ago, which was an ancillary event on Tour. These guys should give Tiger 50% of their earnings every week. 

But back to 2012, and the demanding course at The Lodge at Bay Hill with its knarly rough and beastly par-4's. Winners here since 2007 have exhibited three things:

1. They're long off the tee. Winners of the last five tournaments were Martin Laird, Ernie Els, Tiger Woods (twice) and Vijay Singh. It's not uncommon for winners to finish outside of the top 20 in putting here, too (a rarity on Tour).

2. They've been playing well recently. Champs have been trending towards a win in the weeks leading up to a victory at Bay Hill.

3. They're tall. The last under-six-feet-tall winner at Arnie's southern home was Rod Pampling in 2006. So I'm sorry, Skip Kendall -- it's nothing personal.

I'm obviously digging deep here so you don't have to. Remember, the 10-Fer isn't about the obvious guys (Tiger, Webb Simpson, Lefty, Justin Rose et al) -- it's all about the guy who can get you a good finish who your competitors won't pick. Onto to the darkhorses…

10. Mark Wilson. Not expecting huge things from him since he only meets criteria #2 above, but he did finish t9 here last year. He's solid from tee to green and a decent putter -- both musts at Bay Hill if a player isn't a bomber.  He's about to disappear for about three months, so now might be a decent time to use him.

9. Harris English. The 6'3 Georgia grad faltered in the spotlight a couple of weeks ago at the Honda, but he already has three top-20 finishes in 2012. It's a new course for him as a pro, but look for him to get back on track this week as he tries to make an impression on Arnie. 

8. Dicky Pride. Possibly the first time anyone has suggested using him in fantasy golf. But guess what? His finishes in the three tourneys he's played this year: t5, t7, t20. If he hits his average finish he's getting a six-figure check… and he's proven to be a lock to make the cut here. 

7. Harrison Frazar. This will put my theory to the test, big time. He started off the year great, he's tall, he bombs it. Full disclosure: he hasn't exactly torn this course to shreds in recent years. Just a hunch this week.

6.  Did you know Spencer Levin has averaged $92,656 per start in 2012 and is 25th on the money list? That's exactly 23,000 packs of Camel Lights per event. He hasn't missed a cut yet and finished t6 in his first-ever appearance at Bay Hill last year. I'd have him higher but the winning score was in the single digits under par with tough conditions in 2011, thus keeping a lot of the shorter hitters in it. But he's the poor man's ATM machine this year.

5. Ernie Els. Yep, he let it slip away last week with some poor putting the final three holes. But he's hitting the ball well (32nd in greens in regulation) and getting his ball in the hole (21st in scoring average) despite not doing much well with the flat stick. My guess is that he'll feel less pressure since he knows he's not going to qualify for The Masters and more putts drop for him this week. He won here in 2010, too.

4. Jim Furyk. He's been solid here the last two years (t9, t11) and his wonky putter showed signs of life last week in Tampa, where he was part of the four-man playoff. No one hits it straighter than he does, and players don't want to miss fairways or greens at Bay Hill.

3. George McNeill. Who's that you say? He's the 6'1 guy who beat Ishikawa in Puerto Rico a couple of weeks ago to secure his second career Tour win. So he's 2/3 in our qualifiers… alas, he only averages 285 yards off the tee. But he's straight and putts well, so that could be a wash. He's also 3/3 in cuts made at this event. Super sneaky pick here.

2. If you completely ignore putting stats, Robert Garrigus would be a great pick. And that's exactly what I'm doing this week. The big guy has two second-place finishes already this year and can overpower golf courses. He meets all three criteria. 

1. Bubba. Mr. Watson is a bomber (check mark). He's playing well in recent weeks, as his worst finish in 2012 is t18 (check). He's over six feet tall (winner winner chicken dinner). Extra credit: he uses a pink driver and drives the General Lee to tournaments. That pushes him over the top.

Player to avoid: Ian Poulter. He lives nearby and is one of the top 30 players in the world, but he was spraying it around Lake Nona yesterday in the Tavistock Cup and hasn't been on his game in awhile. Some might be tempted by his t12 finish here in 2011, but save him for later.

Decent picks last week: Several middle-of-the-pack finishes, so if you were looking for a $40,000 check, I led you there. But probably the biggest highlight was advising to avoid Scott Stallings. I'll have to wake up the golfmanna historian to double check, but I believe I'm perfect in that category so far in 2012 (no jinx).

Bad picks last week: Pettersson, Glover and Huh all MC'd. You get what you pay for here in the 10-Fer.

Good luck this week as we launch our One and Done season!


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