Players Plays — Which Players to Target at the PLAYERS

Best Bets YTD: 6-3 (+8.40 units)

Arnold Palmer Invitational Recap

Total: 5-2 (+7.60 units)

We were a hook away from a perfect sweep for our best bets, but we are more than happy to take the 2-1 best bet record and 5-2 overall for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It looks like we’re starting to cook with gas as the golfers we targeted last week made up the top-4; Hatton, Leishman, Im, and Dechambeau. 

As for the tournament itself, the storyline all week was the difficulty of the conditions and come completion of the final round, another near miss from Rory. Yes, it is not lost on me that Hatton out-dueled Leishman down the stretch. The brash Englishman was able to overcome the firm and fast Bay Hill and had the stones to hit the aggressive shots needed to come away with a brand new cardigan.

He was quoted in his presser that he may not be ready to play till Wednesday, citing the impending hangover as cause. So, if your book posts a Hatton matchup that you find tantalizing, don’t be afraid to sprinkle a few schmeckles on it. 

The PLAYERS Preview

Back to the Rory situation. This has an eerie similar feel to this time last year, where he had “difficulties” closing on Sunday’s — I, for one, typically have difficulties closing on Saturday’s. He put all those critics to bed when he showed up at TPC Sawgrass and walked away golden-booted, trophy in hand. I am never for betting on the odds-on favorite in a tournament as Rory is this week — currently listed at +725 via DraftKings — but don’t be shocked if he goes back-to-back and wins this thing. 

TPC Sawgrass has been kind to many different types of players; from bombers to plotters, ball-striking machines to short-game wizards. The key stats I like this week, as with almost every week are: Strokes Gained off the Tee, Strokes Gained Approach, and Bermuda Putting. In addition to the big three, I will also look into Par 5 scoring, as many of them are eagle opportunities, offsetting the difficult Par 4’s. Let’s get into the picks.

Tony Finau (-1.5) (+125) over Justin Rose: 2.0 units

After getting burned by the hook last week, I had a tough time justifying going back to it, but this matchup screams blowout (shoutout Pauly D). I think Finau missing the cut at Arnie’s helps us here and inflates the line a bit. I’m not looking into his play from last week too much, as Finau has been putting together a great year of ball-striking. He currently ranks inside the top-10 in three of the four key ball-striking metrics and sixth around the greens. His Achilles heel has always been the flat stick, but he’s notoriously better on Bermuda (see Waste Management Open), and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him with a chance to win come Sunday. 

On the other hand, Rose is lost. He has missed the cut in three of his last four starts and kicked Honma, his Japanese club manufacturer, to the curb no less than a week ago. Rose ranks outside 160th in every statistical category except for around the green — which when you miss every green, you’d expect to gain some strokes in. Expect this one to be over Friday evening, leaving Rose Saturday morning to shoot another Morgan Stanley commercial with Tom Watson. 

Patrick Cantlay (+100) over Hideki Matsuyama: 2.0 units

In this matchup, you’ll find two of the best ball-strikers in the game. Cantlay has been sidelined since Riveria after undergoing septum surgery. Hideki is coming off his worst finish of the year. Two immovable forces set on a collision course. The ball-striking numbers between the two are similar, but I like Cantlay since he rates a touch better in birdie and eagle average. On top of that, Hideki has been dreadful on the greens, losing about a half a stroke per round. Give me Cantlay to hole more putts than Hideki, and put some money in our pockets to enjoy a few Mai Tai’s this weekend (no Corona’s please).

Dustin Johnson (+100) over Tommy Fleetwood: 2.0 units

DJ’s poor performance in Mexico — for his standards — may be the best thing to happen to those who like to bet the guy. Before the WGC, he was putting together a great year, with competitive finishes in Saudi Arabia (rumor is he and Phil were part of the oil negotiations with Russia) and at Riviera, and looked primed for a win. 

Typical for DJ, his ball-striking numbers are there, led by his game off the tee, and his result this week will mostly depend on his short game. In addition, he seems to be getting more and more comfortable at TPC Sawgrass with his last three finishes being T-12, T-17, and T-5. 

On Tommy’s side of things, I like the tank to continue. I know, I know he may rate-out better than DJ and have better course history, but sometimes things like these are more than the numbers. I think what happened at the Honda Classic severely affected Tommy’s mental state and I’m going full Jim Cramer on him; SELL, SELL, SELL.

Feel free to follow along for more picks on Twitter @AmateurStatus and on Action Network @PattyMacDaddy. Round matchups will be more limited, but nevertheless, posted early in the morning. Let ‘er rip! 

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