Friday, February 23, 2024

2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks: Fade Luke Donald and Wait on Will Zalatoris

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Bombshell news dropped this morning that the PGA TOUR has accepted dramatic changes to the 2024 schedule, shifting the designated events to 70-80 player fields that won’t feature a cut.

From a betting perspective, that is dire news for us gamblers since placement markets, head-to-head wagers and outright boards will all become infinitely worse, but I hope it comes with a more standard opposite-field event that keeps purses steady and engaging for that next tier.

Allowing players to work their way into the designated events with a win could be interesting, although it can’t turn into the structural arch we have gotten with this week’s Puerto Rico Open. That contest has a limited purse, a massively reduced field in quality and no interest from players or fans.

If the TOUR can do things correctly, there is a way to keep everyone happy. However, whether you want to call the bigger tournaments designated or elevated, I just hope the perceived lesser-quality events can be less relegated and more motivated to keep all players happy.

If you haven’t already, you can find me on Twitter @TeeOffSports. There, I will provide a link to my pre-tournament model, a powerful and interactive data spreadsheet that allows user inputs to create custom golf rankings. That sheet is released every Monday, so be sure to check it out and construct your own numbers from my database of information.

You can also find more in-depth analysis on the Links and Locks Arnold Palmer Invitational Betting Preview, where I broke down my top picks for the tournament along with Nick Bretwisch and Roberto Arguello.

Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks and Strategy

Will Zalatoris: Potential Live Bet

Welcome to Florida and the increased nature of wind and water. Those two factors always present these mind-numbingly complex equations since the side with the perceived right end of the draw can just as quickly shift to being in the mess that you were trying to avoid, but let’s attack this board with some of those unknowns in mind and try to see if we can find an edge.

One of the things I always find noteworthy is seeing how “sharper” markets react to new information, such as the weather or any other outside factor that can swerve the event’s outcome. In this case, I am talking about that perceived edge the PM/AM split is projected to have on Thursday/Friday, but the thing I found most meaningful was books didn’t blink an eye when it came to matchups or other offerings that may have affected the other end of the draw.

Will Zalatoris quickly gets highlighted as one of those intriguing names who drew the more challenging stuff on Friday afternoon. Still, as I just stated, markets have kept pushing forward with the intrigue surrounding him.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what that means when trying to back him pre-event since all the outright value is gone at this point of the week, but I’d keep a close eye on his odds from a live betting perspective and see if an opening presents itself over Thursday or Friday.

The American ranked inside the top five of my model for weighted scoring and proximity, and his recalculated tee-to-green returns continue to highlight a profile that can take advantage of the more accessible and demanding holes. Not every golfer in the field can give such a clean answer of potential. I am hoping Zalatoris shifts to 30/1 at some point before it reaches the point of no return.

Luke Donald 73rd or Worse (bet365)

I want to give full credit for this find to Roberto Arguello, my co-host on Links and Locks.

We have seen this number trickling up over the past 24 hours, as Donald has gone from 70th or worse to his new total of 73rd. To me, that signifies Roberto was not only on the right end of this wager but the overall basis of this bet still correlates to mostly needing the Englishman to miss the cut.

Sure, there are some awkward outcomes where we could end up on the wrong end of that answer, but there is a reason he only graded higher than three golfers in this field. My math believes he is closer to 30% to make the cut, providing an excellent betting opportunity to realize that equity at odds of -120 for him to finish 73rd or worse. I am betting him for 0.6 units to win 0.5 units at bet365.

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