This week the PGA Tour heads to Florida for the Valspar Championship and after the struggle that was Doral, which saw a host of big hitters finish inside the Top 10, it will be interesting to see who fares well on this layout this week. Where Doral rewarded those who could bomb it down the fairway, things are entirely different this week as the dog-legged fairways will not reward big hitting. Rather, strategic play is the order of the day as getting it in the right place on these tight, undulating fairways, will be the only way to get on the green in two on the par 4’s. The slightest error could be the difference between birdie and bogey, and so for that reason, the first stat I will be looking at is accuracy off the tee.
Add to that water which is in play on almost every hole and it becomes clear that mishit shots are a definite no-no. There are also a lot of bunkers in play around the greens and so the next stat I will be keeping an eye on is the ability to make sand saves. At some stage or another, everyone will find themselves in a bunker, and getting out will be crucial.
Overall, this looks like it will be another hotly contested affair and it will be interesting to see if Jordan Spieth can find a bit of form after a quiet few weeks. Let’s see if we can find a winner.
To Win Outright
Jordan Spieth: 11/2
Henrik Stenson: 14/1
Danny Willet: 20/1
Louis Oosthuizen: 22/1
Charl Schwartzel: 25/1
Harris English (35/1 a win & 77/10 a place)
Harris English is one of those players who thrives on courses he is comfortable on and although you never quite know how he will play, odds are, he should go close on a course he has traditionally done well on. Last year he finished inside the Top 10 and prior to that he managed a 7th place finish. More recently, a third-place finish in Phoenix was followed by a Top 10 finish at Doral against tough competition. Each way is the bet for me.
Henrik Stenson (14/1 a win & 31/10 a place)
Henrik Stenson looked out of sorts last week at Doral but we’ll ignore that and look to the future, which looks rather bright. Last time out, Stenson seemed to really enjoy this course and hardly put a foot wrong on his way to a Top 5 finish. Given how stiff the competition was last year, that was impressive and although this week things aren’t any easier, Stenson will be used to competing against this calibre of field. Sure, his current form is not quite as good as some of the others but he’s the kind of player who thrives under pressure and can never be ignored. Each way is the bet for me.
Luke Donald (45/1 a win & 99/10 a place)
Current form aside, Luke Donald looks like he may have what it takes to do well on a course that has traditionally suited his game to a tee. Although he slipped up last year and didn’t even make the Top 50, he is a previous winner here and has two more Top 5’s under his belt. On each of those occasions, he took the course apart with his ability to handle this technical layout and I’m hoping that this week something clicks and he returns to form. At this price, this is a bet worth taking and I’ll be backing Donald each way.
Danny Willet (20/1 a win & 44/10 a place)
Danny Willet has been playing some great golf lately and what has been most impressive is that every facet of his game seems to be working. He hits a lot of fairways but when he doesn’t he somehow seems to come right and still make par, a skill that will stand him in good stead on a technical layout like this. He is also hitting his irons incredibly well and once on the green he rarely misses anything inside ten feet. All that combined saw him finish 3rd last time out at Doral and this week he could go one better.