A week after Tiger Woos nearly won the Valspar Championship, the 14-time major winner returns to Arnie’s Place for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a tournament he’s won eight times.
Woods will be joined in the field by Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and more, as they look to win the coveted red cardigan at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, the longtime host of this event, which will play to a par of 72 and tip out at 7,419 yards.
Last year’s winner Marc Leishman didn’t drive it superior to the field a year ago, but he did lead the field in greens in regulation, was 10th in strokes gained: approach-the-green and second in strokes gained: putting. Look for strong iron play and putting to again characterize the contenders this week.
Here are my top 25 fantasy-golf options for this week’s API:
1. Jason Day: Well rested after win at Torrey Pines and T-2 at Pebble Beach. Won the API in 2016 and has made five straight cuts here with three other top-25s. Leads Tour in SGP.
2. Justin Rose: Runner-up here in 2013 and has five other top-15s in 12 career API starts. Two top-8s in last three Tour starts, too. Ranks 11th in SGP.
3. Tiger Woods: Has won this event eight times with six other top-25 finishes. After last week’s T-2 at Valspar, he has a great chance to win No. 9 at Bay Hill. Ranks 19th in SGATG.
4. Tommy Fleetwood: T-10 in API debut last year despite an opening 78. Has five top-6 finishes, including a win, in his last seven worldwide starts.
5. Tyrrell Hatton: Has finished third in two of his last three worldwide starts, including a T-3 in Mexico. Was T-4 in his API debut last year.
6. Zach Johnson: Nice record at Bay Hill with five top-10s and just one MC in 14 starts. T-16 at Valspar was his sixth top-25 this season. Ranks 17th in SGATG.
7. Adam Scott: T-12 last year here was his fourth top-25 in nine API starts. He was third here in 2004 and ’14. After some early-season putting struggles, Scott has gone T-13, T-16 in last two Tour starts. Ranks sixth in SGATG.
8. Adam Hadwin: Finished solo sixth last year at Bay Hill and has been T-12 or better in three straight Tour starts. Ranks 22nd in SGATG.
9. Emiliano Grillo: Followed T-17 in API debut with a T-7 last year that included a third-round 78. Has gone T-8, sixth in his last two worldwide starts. Ranks 18th in SGP.
10. Rory McIlroy: T-11, T-27 and T-4 here the last three years. But he’s struggling a little right now with two MCs in his last four starts.
11. Alex Noren: T-21 or better in five Tour starts this year with two top-3s. Was T-49 in API debut last year. Ranks eighth in SGATG.
12. Brian Harman: Leads Tour with five top-5 finishes, but he has a mixed bag here – T-17 or better three times but also three straight MCs, from 2013-15. Ranks sixth in SGP.
13. Luke List: His five straight top-26 finishes include a playoff loss at Honda and a T-16 last week at Valspar. Also was T-17 in API debut last year.
14. Henrik Stenson: Had four straight top-8 finishes at Bay Hill before MC last year. Coming off disappointing MC at Valspar.
15. Rickie Fowler: No top-10s in four starts since Kapalua with two MCs, but has a decent record here with a T-3 in 2013 and a 12th-place finish last season.
16. Kiradech Aphibarnrat: The big Thai has made two starts at Bay Hill, tying for sixth each time, in 2015 and ’16. He enters this week at No. 31 in the world and coming off a victory Sunday on the Asian Development Tour.
17. Kevin Na: In his last two starts, Na was T-20 at Pebble Beach and T-2 the at Genesis Open. MC last year at Bay Hill, but he also has three top-6s in his last six trips here.
18. Kevin Chappell: Runner-up two years at Bay Hill with two other top-25s in six career starts. Has two top-10s and hasn’t finished worse than T-31 since the start of the year. Ranks 26th in SGATG.
19. Charles Howell III: In 17 API starts, he has just two MCs yet just one top-10 finish. Has posted just one top-10 in his last seven Tour starts, too, though with just one MC. Ranks 16th in SGATG.
20. Brandt Snedeker: This will be his 12th API start and he has six finishes of T-28 or better here with just two MCs. Final-round 78 dropped him to T-31 at Valspar. Ranks 12th in SGP.
21. Francesco Molinari: Posted three top-10s and nothing worse than T-34 in five trips to Bay Hill. Starting to regain some momentum after T-25 in Mexico.
22. Louis Oosthuizen: Coming off best finish of the year, a T-16 at Valspar. T-9 at Bay Hill in 2015 and T-28 last year.
23. Jason Kokrak: Has two top-10s and nothing worse than T-35 in last five starts. Also has two top-6 finishes in five trips to Bay Hill.
24. Keegan Bradley: Has made five straight API cuts and has two top-3 finishers here. Tied for 31st at Valspar, but showing glimpses of the player who was second at CIMB and fifth at Genesis this season. Ranks seventh in SGATG.
T-25. Patton Kizzire: Missed cut in API debut last year, but has already won twice this season and after a brief slump is coming off a T-12 in Mexico.
T-25. Kevin Kisner: Went T-49, MC here before tying for second last year. Was 29th in Mexico in last start after going T-50, MC, MC. Ranks fifth in SGP.
Hideki Matsuyama: Best finish in three API starts is a T-6 in 2016. However, he hasn’t played since Phoenix because of a left-wrist injury, so I’ll look to see how he does this week before rostering him.