PGA Tour: Valspar Championship Preview

Golfer lines up iron shot

We preview the Valspar Championship set to be hosted by the Innisbrook Resort between 8 March and 11 March. 

This will be the 18th edition of an event that started in the autumn of 2000. The Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort plays host to an event that will provide some more fine tuning to those preparing for a shot at Masters Glory. Clearly some of the elite players have opted to rest in the wake of a gruelling WGC Mexico, but there is still a huge array of talent vying for the crown this week, not to mention Tiger Woods. 

Any event that boasts both Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy will always generate a huge amount of attention. Rory will be desperate to find some form heading into yet another opportunity to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta.

The Valspar Championship | 8 March - 11 March | Copperhead Course, Innisbrook Resort

The Copperhead Course was designed by Larry Packard and opened in 1974. In underwent restoration in 1999 before undergoing yet another overhaul in 2015. This has resulted in celebratory Bermuda fairways and Tif Bermuda greens. It is, as ever, a tough, tree-lined course that will prove troublesome in windy conditions. There are many dog-legged holes and plenty of water to keep the players honest. The final three holes are particularly brutal, famously known as the “Snake Pit”.

Adam Hadwin returns to defend his title while former champion Jordan Spieth is hoping to find the type of form that the likes of Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson seem to have found so easily this season. Sergio Garcia played well in Mexico before a calamitous final day put pay to his chances. Elsewhere, European Tour heavyweights emerge, with McIlroy, Rose and Stenson looking to lay a claim this week. And there is also the small matter of Tiger Woods’ follow-up to that hugely encouraging T12 finish at the Honda Classic.


Past Winners
2017: Adam Hadwin (-14)
2016: Charl Schwartzel (-7)*playoff
2015: Jordan Spieth (-10)*playoff
2014: John Senden (-7)
2013: Kevin Streelman (-10)

To Win Outright:
Jordan Spieth 17/2 | Rory McIlroy 14/1 | Sergio Garcia 16/1 | Justin Rose 18/1 | Henrik Stenson 18/1

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Value Bets

Byeong Hun An- To Win 35/1, To Place 15/2
While a performance of T49 last season hardly resonates, a closer look at the improving An make him quite an appetizing prospect this week. He will be well rested this week, with his last outing a T5th at the Honda Classic, where he closed out the weekend with rounds of 69 and 65. His putting seems to have improved immeasurably, with a T23 at the Phoenix Open and T6 in Dubai indicating an upward trajectory for the South Korean.

Webb Simpson- To Win 40/1, To Place 17/2
The former US Open Champion hasn’t had a win in four years, but one look at his recent form shows some encouraging signs. He was tied for fourth at the Sony Open- an event which has a strong corollary with his one- before he tied for fifth at the Honda Classic- alongside my earlier pick Byeong Hun An. Webb Simpson also has strong course statistics, finishing no worse than 17th between 2010 and 2013. Surprisingly, Simpson currently sits sixth in strokes gained putting this season, which has perhaps been key in his resurgence.

Charles Howell III- To Win 80/1, To Place 17/1
Charles Howell III is one of the great quagmires of golf. That swing alone should be worth more than the seemingly measly two titles he possesses. He could have won at the Quicken Loans National last season, losing in a playoff to Kyle Stanley. But you have to consider his brilliant record here at Copperhead- which is just the sort of tight, tree-lined course that suits his pinpoint iron-play. He has made 11 cuts from 14 here, with four top 10 finishes in that mix. So he looks a good bet in the place markets at 17/1. 

The Man to Beat- Henrik Stenson- To Win 18/1, To Place 39/10
I think that it would be best to discount Stenson’s last outing in the sweaty humidity of Malaysia, where he only managed a T60. Generally speaking, Stenson’s form thus far this season has been strong, and he has managed to manage his schedule so he can maximize his body this season. He had a eighth place in Abu Dhabi as well as a tie for sixth in Dubai. Then you have to consider his recent form at Copperhead. The 2016 Open Champion has finished T7, T11th and fourth in his last three starts at the tight course, and this will be the perfect opportunity for him to hone his impressive iron-play. 

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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