It’s time to grab your lemonade-iced tea blend and pick your fantasy team for this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational as the PGA Tour heads to Bay Hill for another great week of golf. Last week’s leaderboard had plenty of drama as Aussie John Senden stormed from back in the pack to get his first PGA Tour win since 2006. Senden led a group of unexpected options at the top of the leaderboard which resulted in low-scoring fantasy weeks for most entries.
In our Fansided & Friends fantasy golf group, (details to join here) it was Todd’s team that took the win for the week giving him two wins in the last six weeks. His entry put up 180 which was the lowest winning score this season in our tenth tournament of the year. Overall, the Touchdown Jackrabbits are still top the rankings just barely holding onto a 14-point lead over Team Tiger.
This week, there’s a strong field lined up for Arnold’s invitational with Tiger and his eight career wins on this course looming large. He won the event last year, but playing him this week is risky based on his recent struggles. Here’s my plan for the week:
Bubba Watson: Bubba is a great option coming in playing great golf as he looks for his second win on Tour this year. I originally was starting with him on the bench, but he’s playing so well with four straight top 10′s that I’m going to put him in to start of the week and hopefully stick with him throughout the tournament. Watson finished t14 at this event last season and t4 the year before. He doesn’t have the history of Tiger on the course, but his current form makes me give him the nod in round 1.
Tiger Woods: Starting and playing Woods all week is definitely a risk, so I’m going to roster him but start him on my bench. This week, it seems like it’s time for him to put this whole back issue behind him and gear up for The Masters in just a few weeks. He added his eighth career victory at Bay Hill just last season and will be looking to be the first player ever to win the same event nine times. Woods hasn’t missed the cut this season even with his bad back, so it’s not as much of a risk except it does burn a Tiger start if you have to put him in your lineup. Proceed with caution if you take Woods as your A-1 starter, but I think it’s an even bigger risk to leave him off your roster entirely since he’s dominated at this course for so long. UPDATE: Woods has withdrawn from the event due to his continued issues with his back. For my replacement picks, click here.
Justin Rose: Rose battled injury early in the season but logged his first top-ten finish of the year last week with a t8 at Copperhead. Last year, he was runner-up to Woods at this event and giving him four top 15 finishes at Bay Hill including in each of the past three seasons.
Keegan Bradley: Bradley is a little bit of a gut call since he is coming off a t50 at the Cadillac a couple weeks ago. Before that, though, Bradley had six top 25′s in eight events this season, and I think he’ll bounce back just fine as he returns to the Palmer. Last year, he finished tied for third in just his second visit to the event, and I think third time could definitely be the charm for Keegan this week.
Zach Johnson: Johnson is as consistent at they come and his veteran presence on your roster can help you avoid a burnout weekend where you are unable to field a full roster after a devastating cut. Johnson has been in the top 20 in five of his last six stroke play events after a t16 two weeks ago at Doral. Johnson is the kind of shot-maker that typically flourishes at Bay Hill and has made the cut in all but one of the last ten events. Over that timespan, he’s been in the top 11 four times highlighted by a third-place finish in 2009.
Martin Laird: Laird won the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational and has made the cut in each of the last two versions of the tournament. He has three top-25′s in his last five events making him a decent candidate for my sleeper spot on my B-List.
Will MacKenzie: MacKenzie finished t4 last week at the Valspar giving him five top-15 finishes in his last six starts. He doesn’t have a great history at Bay Hill, but he is still a good pick for this week based on his current form.
Graeme McDowell: McDowell has four top-ten finishes in his five PGA events this season. Two years ago, McDowell finished as runner-up to Tiger and made the cut last year after a tough first few visits to Bay Hill. He’s a safe pick this week and doesn’t play a ton of Stateside events, so you don’t have to worry about saving McDowell starts as much as some other players.