The PGA Tour is in Florida for the final time this month this week when the Valspar Championship closes out the Florida Swing. This tournament has been moved around in recent years but is back concluding what has been a great few weeks of golf in the sunshine state.
Sam Burns doesn’t care whether the tournament is in May or March as he has won the last two stagings of this event which covered both of those months. He tees it up looking for a threepeat but a good field is out to stop him.
2022 – Sam Burns
2021 – Sam Burns
2019 – Paul Casey
2018 – Paul Casey
2017 – Adam Hadwin
2016 – Charl Schwartzel
2015 – Jordan Spieth
2014 – John Senden
2013 – Kevin Streelman
2012 – Luke Donald
The Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort in Tampa Bay is the host venue once again this week. This is one of the toughest par 71s on the PGA Tour, made so difficult by the ‘Snake Pit’, the closing three holes which are among the hardest stretch of holes of the entire season. These holes can ruin many a good round but rarely is there much joy to be had in them. It is as hard a finish as you’ll find so it follows on nicely from the pressure cooker of last week.
The course is a par 71 measuring 7,340 yards and with the narrow fairways there is going to be quite a premium on accuracy. If you look through the roll of honour it is a list of great putters so there is a clue in that but tee-to-green strength is another feature of what is needed around here. There is not a single bomber on the recent winners list and that tells a tale heading into the tournament. The fairways are tight and the greens are small and very well protected. Look for tee to green machines rather than lights out putters this week.
After a run of elevated events in recent weeks and a WGC event next week and just three weeks until The Masters, this tournament probably doesn’t fall in the best place in the calendar for a decent field but three standout names certainly do nothing to detract from the profile of the event. We have two current major champions in the field in Justin Thomas and Matthew Fitzpatrick while Jordan Spieth has previously won the biggest titles the game has to offer.
The defending champion Sam Burns is here which after having the title defender missing last week is a nice boost to the tournament. Some other notables in the field include Tommy Fleetwood, Keegan Bradley and Justin Rose, the latter two who have already won this season. Former champions Adam Hadwin and Gary Woodland also tee it up this week while rising stars such as Justin Suh and Davis Riley add a youthful flavour to the field
We have joint favourites for the tournament this week in Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. Spieth is an interesting case as he hasn’t played here since a missed cut in 2018 so you wonder if he is here to win this tournament or just looking to get his game on track for The Masters. Thomas has gone T13-T3 in the last two years here but his putter does not seem to be cooperating with the instructions it is being given. I can’t say I’m in a rush to back either.
Matt Fitzpatrick comes next in the field at 16/1. He was fifth here on debut last year so if you need a year to get to grips with the snake pit then you would imagine he should be primed to go very well this week. He missed the cut last week but a weekend off in a hectic schedule isn’t always a bad thing and with English players having a good history around here he shouldn’t be dismissed quickly. There isn’t a whole lot of juice in the price though.
Sam Burns is next in the betting at 18/1. Regular readers will know I’m not one for backing defending champions let alone ones who are looking for a threepeat. If you go back through history there isn’t a huge amount of players who have won the same title three years in succession and there is a reason for that. Burns did look ok at times last week though and clearly he loves this course. If you are prepared to take on history you might be doing it with the right man.
We have a pair of players who are 22/1 to win the tournament this week. Justin Rose is looking for his second win of the wraparound campaign and a win here would mean him winning in successive months. Neither can be ruled out and I wouldn’t be quick to write off Tommy Fleetwood although there is no getting away from the negative which was a terrible final round at TPC Sawgrass last week. It is 25/1 bar.
The wind is expected to blow this week so I like having Tommy Fleetwood on my side. He is renowned as one of the best wind players in the world and when ball striking is as important as it is I want Fleetwood on side even more. He was T16 on debut here last year so he has had a feel for the course and what it entails and I expect him to play better now. Fleetwood comes in here off the back of having a chance to win The Players Championship last week but couldn’t quite get going in the final round. He’ll gain shots on the field when the wind is at its strongest though and even at 22/1 he feels a more than fair price when you consider just how comfortable in the wind he is.
Gary Woodland is another player who is solid when the wind is blowing and he was second in the field in ball striking at The Players Championship last week so he is hitting the ball very well. Woodland won the US Open at Pebble Beach so we know he can handle the wind. After a poor run earlier in his career here, Woodland was T21 here a year ago so there are signs that he is getting to grips with the track and the test it provides. Woodland was T9 at the Genesis a few weeks ago which is a decent form guide and in a lower tier event he should offer better here. A man hitting the ball well who is comfortable in the wind should go well that week and Woodland ticks both boxes.
David Lingmerth has been in decent form in recent weeks and as another player who is perfectly comfortable in the wind he should run hot here. Lingmerth struck the ball solidly at The Players last week to finish T6 and that comes just a couple of weeks after a T10 finish at The Honda Classic so he has top 10 finishes on two of the hardest courses on the PGA Tour which should serve him well here. Lingmerth has made the cut on every visit to this tournament and although he hasn’t contended yet I think the wind will help him do that. I’ll pay to see how close he can go.
Dylan Frittelli is a decent ball striker on his day and he is very good in the wind too so he ticks a lot of boxes here. He isn’t in the sort of form that you would ideally want from him coming in here but this is a drop off in level from a lot of the recent events so perhaps form isn’t everything this week. I often like Frittelli onside when the wind is blowing. He only had one top 10 last year but it was in Texas where it is always windy and two years ago he was in the top five at both The Masters and The Open. I say his form hasn’t been ideal but he was in the top 15 in Phoenix and the top 30 at The Honda Classic which is certainly no bad effort so maybe he is coming into form. If the forecast stays the same the South African could profit.
Back T.Fleetwood to win Valspar Championship (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 23.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-8)
Back G.Woodland to win Valspar Championship (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-8)
Back D.Lingmerth to win Valspar Championship (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-8)
Back them here:
Back D.Frittelli to win Valspar Championship (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 151.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-8)Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2023