Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Valspar Championship Tips 2022

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Well done to those of you on Cameron Smith last week at a Monday best price of 33/1 (bet365). From fairway to hole, there are few better in the game right now and Cameron’s putting is on a different level when firing.

With only 4 weeks to go now until The Masters, the PGA Tour moves to the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort near Tampa Bay. It’s a tough examination which always ranks as one of the hardest courses outside of the Major Championship venues every year. It’s a great field this year, with the likes of Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Tyrrell Hatton, Copperhead whisperer Paul Casey and defending champion Sam Burns headlining.

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Before we go into the detail surrounding the Valspar Championship we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System. Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,000 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Course Guide: This tournament is played on the tough Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida.

As a 7,340 yard Par 71, the course is tight off the tee but, unlike other typical Florida courses, the Larry Packard design has tree-lined fairways, plenty of elevation changes and dog-leg holes. Copperhead achieves this fairly unique layout as it contains 4 par-5s and 5 par-3s which is highly unusual for a Par 71 course. The course also features ‘The Snake Pit’ – namely holes 16 to 18 – which adds real bite to the closing stretch, especially on Sunday.

The course received a $4.5 million restoration (not renovation) after Jordan Spieth’s win here in 2015, but still very much plays to the same tricky characteristics, with a real Carolina course feel to it.

Copperhead Course, Innisbrook Resort, Palm Harbor, Florida: Designer: Larry Packard, 1971 with Wadsworth renovation 2015. Course Type: Carolina-type, Technical; Par: 71; Length: 7,340 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 9; Fairways: Celebration Bermudagrass; Rough: Celebration Bermudagrass with Ryegrass 3″; Greens: 5,822 sq.ft average TifEagle Bermudagrass with Poa Trivialis overseed; Tournament Stimp: 12ft; Course Scoring Average 2012: 70.73 (-0.27), Difficulty Rank 30 of 49 courses. 2013: 72.22 (+1.22), Rank 7 of 43 courses. 2014: 72.43 (+1.43), Rank 6 of 48 courses. 2015: 71.86 (+0.86), Rank 10 of 52 courses. 2016: 72.62 (+1.62), Rank 6 of 50 courses. 2017: 71.51 (+0.51), Rank 17 of 50 courses. 2018: 71.97 (+0.97), Rank 6 of 51 courses. 2019: 71.98 (+0.98), Rank 6 of 49 courses. 2021: 70.96 (-0.04), Rank 20 of 51 courses.

Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook, and how they compare to recent courses on Tour:

  • Copperhead: 250 yards from the tee: 24 yards wide; 275:20; 300:21; 325:23 350:19.
  • TPC Sawgrass: 250 yards from the tee: 31 yards wide; 275:32; 300:30; 325:28 350:20.
  • Bay Hill: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:33; 300:33; 325:39 350:29.
  • PGA National: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:27 350:25.
  • Riviera: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26 350:28.
  • TPC Scottsdale: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:27; 350:27.
  • Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30 350:26.
  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 26 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • TPC Stadium: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26; 350:24.
  • Waialae: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:32; 300:34; 325:37; 350:34.
  • Plantation Course: 250 yards from the tee: 59 yards wide; 275:61; 300:65; 325:60; 350:62.
  • Seaside Course: 250 yards from the tee: 42 yards wide; 275:40; 300:34; 325:31; 350:23.
  • TPC Summerlin: 250 yards from the tee: 35 yards wide; 275:37; 300:33; 325:30; 350:31.
  • CC of Jackson: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:29; 325:28; 350:25.
  • Silverado: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:24; 325:25; 350:24.

Course Overview: The Copperhead course restoration in 2016 hasn’t changed the characteristics of the challenge that players face. New green complexes, which still feature TifEagle Bermudagrass overseeded with Poa Trivialis, are slightly larger than original at 6,100 sq.ft average. But if turf conditions are firm and wind is a factor, a single-digit score under par is always likely to be a target for victory. In essence, the changes have enhanced rather than materially changed the Copperhead test.

Positioned only a stone’s throw away from the Gulf of Mexico on the west coast of Florida close to Tampa, the course is not your typical Florida golf course. Instead many observers, me included, suggest it’s far more typical of a Carolina set-up with changes of elevation, tree-lined fairways, multiple dog-legs and selected usage of water hazards making it a real gem and a true test of golf. The course features extremely tight fairways, in combination with the majority of holes being on the long side. That’s a recipe for a tough golf course and sure enough that is exactly what the field this week will get.

The course was heavily watered to protect it as the Valspar was played in May last year. So as we are back to mid-March it will be interesting to see how the course has been prepped for this year. When set up correctly, Copperhead is a fast, tight and long course, where attackable holes are relatively few. This is definitely a technical test where a mature, major-like, all-round game is required.

valspar championship tips

Winners: 2021: Sam Burns (-17); 2019: Paul Casey (-8); 2018: Paul Casey (-10); 2017: Adam Hadwin (-14); 2016: Charl Schwartzel (-8); 2015: Jordan Spieth (-10); 2014: John Senden (-7); 2013: Kevin Streelman (-10); 2012: Luke Donald (-13); 2011: Gary Woodland (-15); 2010: Jim Furyk (-13).

Cut Line: 2021: -1; 2019: +1; 2018: +3.

Lead Score Progression (since move to March):

  • 2021: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -12; Round 3 -14; Round 4 -17.
  • 2019: Round 1 -5; Round 2 -6; Round 3 -9; Round 4 -8.
  • 2018: Round 1 -4; Round 2 -6; Round 3 -9; Round 4 -10.

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Justin Thomas, Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, Sam Burns, Xander Schauffele, Gary Woodland, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Russell Knox and Jason Kokrak.

Tournament Winners & Prices: 2021: Burns 80/1; 2019: Casey 25/1; 2018: Casey 25/1; 2017: Hadwin 125/1; 2016: Schwartzel 33/1; 2015: Spieth 16/1; 2014: Senden 125/1; 2013: Streelman 200/1; 2012: Donald 11/1; 2011: Woodland 100/1; 2010: Furyk 30/1.  Past 7 Renewals Average: 61/1. Overall Average: 70/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2021: Thursday: Mostly sunny. High of 86. Wind SSE 6-12 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny. High of 84. Wind WNW 10-15 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny. High of 85. Wind NNE 4-8 mph. Partly cloudy. High of 84. Wind SW 10-15 mph.
  • 2019: Thursday: Sunny. High of 71. Wind WNW 15-20 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 70. Wind NW 6-12 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 75. Wind ENE 5-10 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 77. Wind E 5-10 mph.
  • 2018: Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 64. Wind NW 15-20 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 66. Wind NNW 5-10 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 72. Wind SE 5-15 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 74. Wind SSW 10-15 mph.
  • 2017: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 75. Wind WNW 8-12 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 76. Wind WNW 10-15 mph. Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 80. Wind NNE 8-15 mph. Sunday: Mostly cloudy, with a high of 75. Wind WNW 5-10 mph.
  • 2016: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 84 degrees. Wind SE 10-20 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 82 degrees. Wind SE 10-20 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 83 degrees. Wind S-SE 10-20 mph. Sunday: Cloudy, with a high of 78 degrees. Wind SW 10-20 mph.
  • 2015: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 85. SW wind at 10-15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy with a high of 86. Wind SW at 10-15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy, with the temperature reaching 83. Wind SSW at 10-15 mph, with gusts to 25 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 85. WNW wind at 10 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Palm Harbor, Florida, is here.

Tampa Bay had a dry February, but saw 14mm of rain last week. We tend to get firm, releasing conditions here. but with rain forecast for Tuesday evening and most of Wednesday, I can see a soft course presenting itself over at least the opening 36 holes.

From a wind perspective, all is calm on Thursday, but 15-25 mph south westerly winds on Friday will make this a slightly tougher day. Wind takes a backwards step on the weekend, but hopefully a continually firming golf course should see Copperhead at its best.

Temperatures compared to The Players Championship will be a wonderfully warm 22-25 degrees Celsius throughout.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the American Express / Abu Dhabi Championship which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events. Players’ rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Viktor Hovland / Dustin Johnson / Shane Lowry; 4) Louis Oosthuizen / Collin Morikawa; 6) Keegan Bradley; 7) Alex Smalley; 8) Bernd Wiesberger; 9) Bubba Watson; 10) Trey Mullinax / J.T. Poston; 12) Tyrrell Hatton / Kevin Streelman; 14) Xander Schauffele; 15) Cameron Percy; 16) Paul Barjon; 17) Emiliano Grillo / Justin Thomas; 19) Abraham Ancer / Hayden Buckley; 21) Seth Reeves / J.J. Spaun / Jhonattan Vegas; 24) Kramer Hickok / Curtis Thompson.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Shane Lowry; 2) Viktor Hovland; 3) Keegan Bradley; 4) Justin Thomas; 5) Tyrrell Hatton; 6) Bernd Wiesberger; 7) Alex Noren; 8) Dustin Johnson; 9) Russell Knox; 10) Matt Fitzpatrick / Patton Kizzire / Graeme McDowell; 13) Nick Taylor; 14) Adam Hadwin; 15) Lanto Griffin / Martin Laird; 17) Jason Kokrak; 18) Adam Svensson; 19) Andrew Putnam / Callum Tarren / Cameron Tringale; 22) Pat Perez; 23) Tommy Fleetwood; 24) Abraham Ancer / Luke Donald / Brian Harman / John Huh / Martin Kaymer.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Kevin Yu; 2) Harold Varner III; 3) Matthias Schwab; 4) C.T. Pan; 5) Matt Fitzpatrick / Zach Johnson; 7) Patton Kizzire; 8) Tommy Fleetwood / Louis Oosthuizen / Vaughn Taylor; 11) Branden Grace / Xander Schauffele; 13) Martin Kaymer / William McGirt / Sean O’Hair; 16) Pat Perez; 17) Bill Haas / Cameron Tringale; 19) Tyler Duncan / Lee Hodges / Stephan Jaeger; 22) Charl Schwartzel; 23) Jason Day; 24) Nate Lashley / Scott Stallings / Brian Stuard.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Shane Lowry; 2) Keegan Bradley / Viktor Hovland; 4) Matt Fitzpatrick / Justin Thomas; 6) Bernd Wiesberger; 7) Tyrrell Hatton / Martin Laird; 9) Nick Taylor; 10) Collin Morikawa; 11) Russell Knox / Kevin Yu; 13) Brian Harman / Matthias Schwab; 15) Dustin Johnson; 16) Tommy Fleetwood / Adam Hadwin; 18) Tyler Duncan / Tommy Fleetwood / Patton Kizzire / Alex Noren; 22) Xander Schauffele; 23) Abraham Ancer / Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 25) Mito Pereira.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Tyrrell Hatton; 2) Shane Lowry; 3) Viktor Hovland; 4) Matt Fitzpatrick / Justin Thomas; 6) Louis Oosthuizen; 7) Patton Kizzire; 8) Tommy Fleetwood / Dustin Johnson; 10) Jason Kokrak; 11) Keegan Bradley; 12) Lanto Griffin / Xander Schauffele; 14) Matthias Schwab; 15) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 16) Adam Hadwin / John Huh / Mito Pereira / Pat Perez / Alex Noren; 21) Nick Taylor; 22) Collin Morikawa; 23) Tyler Duncan; 24) David Lipsky; 25) Russell Knox.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Tyrrell Hatton; 2) Shane Lowry; 3) Viktor Hovland; 4) Matt Fitzpatrick / Justin Thomas; 6) Louis Oosthuizen; 7) Paul Casey / Patton Kizzire; 9) Tommy Fleetwood / Dustin Johnson; 11) Jason Kokrak; 12) Keegan Bradley; 13) Lanto Griffin / Xander Schauffele; 15) Matthias Schwab; 16) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 17) Adam Hadwin / John Huh / Mito Pereira / Pat Perez / Alex Noren; 22) Nick Taylor; 23) Collin Morikawa; 24) Tyler Duncan; 25) David Lipsky.

For a summary of the Strokes Gained Performances from this week’s field here at the Copperhead Course, Innisbrook since 2016 click here.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends: Analysing the Strokes Gained final stats of the Valspar Championship winners since 2016 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2021, Sam Burns (-17). SG Off the Tee: 16th, SG Approach: 14th, SG Around the Green: 23rd, SG Tee to Green: 5th, SG Putting: 3rd.
  • 2019, Paul Casey (-8). SG Off the Tee: 6th, SG Approach: 7th, SG Around the Green: 9th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 43rd.
  • 2018, Paul Casey (-10). SG Off the Tee: 50th, SG Approach: 7th, SG Around the Green: 3rd, SG Tee to Green: 6th, SG Putting: 15th.
  • 2017, Adam Hadwin (-14). SG Off the Tee: 47th, SG Approach: 2nd, SG Around the Green: 25th, SG Tee to Green: 5th, SG Putting: 4th.
  • 2016, Charl Schwartzel (-8). SG Off the Tee: 52nd, SG Approach: 3rd, SG Around the Green: 23rd, SG Tee to Green: 4th, SG Putting: 12th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 34th, SG Approach: 7th, SG Around the Green: 17th, SG Tee to Green: 4th, SG Putting: 21st.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the winners of the Valspar Championship since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this classical test:

  • 2021, Sam Burns (-17). 305 yards (12th), 65.4% fairways (14th), 58.3% greens in regulation (35th), 32’7″ proximity to hole (10th), 73.3 % scrambling (30th), 1.57 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2019, Paul Casey (-8). 307 yards (11th), 67.3% fairways (9th), 63.9% greens in regulation (5th), 41’1″ proximity to hole (65th), 61.5 % scrambling (47th), 1.65 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2018, Paul Casey (-10). 302 yards (17th), 46.2% fairways (68th), 61.1% greens in regulation (30th), 35’10” proximity to hole (23rd), 82.1 % scrambling (3rd), 1.68 putts per GIR (7th).
  • 2017, Adam Hadwin (-12). 287 yards (37th), 63.5% fairways (27th), 70.8% greens in regulation (5th), 29’11” proximity to hole (5th), 76.2 % scrambling (7th), 1.65 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2016, Charl Schwartzel (-8). 292 yards (30th), 44.2% fairways (65th), 65.3% greens in regulation (10th), 34’10” proximity to hole (12th), 60.0 % scrambling (45th), 1.64 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2015, Jordan Spieth (-10). 275 yards (26th), 59.6% fairways (51st), 63.9% greens in regulation (36th), 35’3″ proximity to hole (47th), 69.2 % scrambling (18th), 1.65 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2014, John Senden (-7). 279 yards (20th), 57.7% fairways (50th), 72.2% greens in regulation (3rd), 31’6″ proximity to hole (6th), 60.0 % scrambling (35th), 1.75 putts per GIR (12th).
  • 2013, Kevin Streelman (-10). 271 yards (48th), 69.2% fairways (11th), 68.1% greens in regulation (11th), 35’5″ proximity to hole (39th), 65.2% scrambling (28th), 1.67 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2012, Luke Donald (-12). 264 yards (75th), 73.1% fairways (9th), 66.7% greens in regulation (43rd), 32’8″ proximity to hole (22nd), 75.0% scrambling (7th), 1.65 putts per GIR (6th).
  • 2011, Gary Woodland (-15). 297 yards (7th), 57.7% fairways (54th), 70.8% greens in regulation (29th), 37’7″ proximity to hole (65th), 66.7% scrambling (14th), 1.65 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2010, Jim Furyk (-13). 261 yards (59th), 67.3% fairways (16th), 72.2% greens in regulation (4th), 33’9″ proximity to hole (24th), 75.0% scrambling (3rd), 1.67 putts per GIR (3rd).

Traditional Skill Set Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 31st, Driving Accuracy: 34th, Greens in Regulation: 19th, Proximity to Hole: 29th, Scrambling: 22nd, Putting Average 5th.

Let’s take a view from players as to how Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Sam Burns (2021): “Well, I think these greens are all Bermuda and that’s what I grew up on. So I’m just comfortable around those. I think just playing on them every day back home, you’re used to seeing grain, you kind of don’t even think about it, but you know it’s there and you’re kind of calculating it in. So I think I just feel comfortable on these greens..

Well I think the golf course is changing quickly. I think you could see it when we started the back nine, just the greens completely changed, a lot more bounce to them, they quickened up a little bit there, especially when the wind blew a little. So I think just managing the ball around the golf course, putting it in the right spots will be important tomorrow.

Yeah, it’s like I said, I think before this moment, before I won, I really thought that I just needed to play so well and I needed to do everything perfect. I couldn’t make a mistake, and that’s just not true. I think for me today I just knew that if I could put the ball in the right spots with the golf course playing difficult that I was putting it well enough that I liked my chances. So I don’t know, I think everybody’s different, but for me it was just managing the golf course, managing my ball around the golf course and putting yourself in the right spots.”

Paul Casey (2019): “It’s a great golf course. I think it’s one of the best we play on Tour. Might be the best one we play on the Florida swing. You know I like it because I’m defending champion. Champions always like the golf courses they win on. But it’s really quality. It’s very tough as well. The difference between hitting the green and landing just short, the dispersion of where the shots finish is high. There’s a premium on ball striking. Scoring’s never that low around here. Bogeys do happen. Disappointing on 9, but everybody’s going to make bogeys. If you can just minimize those, it puts you in a good position. But it’s wonderful playing with world No. 1 the last two days and see the quality of his game and quality of mine was pretty good too.

I like slopey greens, these are very, very difficult greens, but that’s the way I kind of like them. It’s why I play well at places like Augusta as well. Johnny hinted that, my caddie’s running off to go watch some golf this afternoon because it’s going to get entertaining because it’s so difficult to figure out where that wind is coming from. Very rarely on this Copperhead Course do you face the same direction twice. So you’re always having to make slight adjustments for the wind and then you can’t quite figure it out. It’s a difficult golf course. The greens are so firm, you can’t get a tee in the ground to repair a ball mark. You need one of those metal pitch mark repairers.”

Paul Casey (2018): “To me it’s one of the best courses on Tour. I think without question one of the best courses on Tour. My caddy, Johnny McClaren won here before with Luke Donald. He thought it would really suit my game. I hit a lot of greens in regulation. We discussed again trying to get the flow of the travel. We thought it fit really nicely in the schedule, everything about it, you know, the people, Copperhead, there’s just a lot of positives to it. It’s actually pretty easy decision, to be honest. Actually questioned why I haven’t played it more in the past because actually I haven’t played it that well. Surprising. I did like it and as soon as I turned up, I had a good feeling anyway and obviously I’ll be back next year but it’s one I probably would have on the schedule forever. I still don’t like 16.”

Adam Hadwin (2017): “Yeah, it was a great day, I played really solid, a lot of fairways, a lot of greens again. Made a couple bombs that probably shouldn’t have gone in, but good speed and was able to pick the right line and just real solid golf tee-to-green. Every time I got off-line, I got myself back in position and when I was able to be aggressive, I was aggressive and hit good shots. Just striking it real solid right now, which is what you need it do around this Copperhead golf course. you get going sideways on this golf course, it’s tough enough that it will punish you and you can run up a tally pretty quickly. But the other side of things is that guys are going to have to shot a good score to catch you.

Charl Schwartzel (2016): “Well, the first time I played, I didn’t play very well. But you know, the more I played it, I felt like it’s a golf course where you need sort of experience to play. You need to learn how to play this golf course. It looks like an easy course, because it’s not very long on distance, but man, the way you’ve got to shape the shots, the way you’ve got to think, the variety of clubs you use, it’s just a really good golf course. You’ve got to really think your way around it, and you very seldom get the guy that plays badly otherwise. You’ve got to bring a good game here to compete.

Well, the Snake Pit is really only 16, if you’re asking me. 16 is a dangerous hole. Whatever makes you feel comfortable off the tee, whether it’s an iron just short in the fairway and a 3-wood, that’s fine. It’s avoiding the water and the trees on the left, really. You can’t bail. You hit left, you make bogey, anyways. You hit it in the water, you’re going to make probably double. So it’s getting it off the tee just in play and if you’re going to play that hole, 2-over for the week, you’re going to be in contention in this tournament. 17 and 18 is not really that difficult of holes. I mean, hitting 6-iron, 7-iron into 17, and 18 is your choice, what you want to do. If you drive it, you’ve got to wedge it. If you hit 2-iron off the tee, you’ve got 8-iron in. To me, those holes are not that dangerous. But 16, be careful. Just get the ball in play.

Jordan Spieth (2015): “This course, it’s a very difficult golf course, it’s definitely tougher than average. If you see guys that come out and play well here, they’re likely to play well on the harder courses and the bigger tournaments just because that kind of course suits their game more, I guess. You have to work the ball both ways here. It requires all sorts of shots, punch shots, launching it in the air and obviously some discipline on the greens.

The greens aren’t very severe here. They’re grainy and certainly they can be very quick in certain places where they can put pins but they’re not going to be greens where you really, really worry too much about your speed control. You can be aggressive putting out here which is nice. But it’s tough. I mean the wind – in the past couple years the wind has picked up. Looks like we may get really lucky this week, these next four days and not have much wind and scores could be lower, especially with the softer conditions than previous years. Yeah, it’s still tough to hit the fairway and the greens, the rough is really sticky and if you’re a foot off the green and it just off the fringe, it’s about as tough as it gets because the rough is not quite high and thick enough to where you just play like a bunker shot and it’s not thin enough to where you can hit a normal chip. You got to almost feel like your way through and try and judge it perfectly.

John Senden: “I think you need to play pretty solid golf to do well around here because it’s narrow in spots, the greens are smaller. You know, it’s a very strategic golf course. I think you see players that say the veteran players that play win around here because it’s not totally a bomber’s golf course. Doral probably is. This place is not. It’s narrow. It’s different. It’s got sort of shorter golf holes than, say, Doral. If you’re smart around here you can actually do really well. If you try to sort of tear it apart by bombing it, it’s much more narrow than probably Doral. Doral visually looks – all you see is the bunkers. Here you see more tree line. Even if you do lay it back a little bit here you can still score well.

Jim Furyk: “I’d say the one thing here, you do get a lot of greens that have quite a bit of pitch and slope to them, especially back to front, and so you have to hit some putts here that feed to the hole. You get a lot of six footers here that are more than a cup of break and you don’t see a lot of that in Florida as well. You get a lot of right edge and left edge, ball out, inside right. Here you have to fit a lot of putts that really feed into the hole and that helps a little bit for getting ready for Augusta.

Kevin Streelman: “Got to put it in the right spots. As we know on this golf course, you’ll make some bogies pretty quickly. It’s clear this is, a lot of players would say, their favourite course in Florida that we play. They love it because of shot playability. You hit everything from 4-iron to driver off the tees, shape them both directions. You have par-5s you can go for and some you lay back. You’ve got par-3s. You have to be so exact where you leave it. There’s no let up out there but it’s very fair at the same time. People say last week maybe pushed the envelope a little bit. This week there’s no pushing the envelope. You got to step up and hit a golf shot. You got to step up on 16 and hit a great drive. There’s little room to bail. You got to man up and hit golf shots out there.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the winners of the Valspar Championship since 2010:

  • 2021 – Sam Burns: Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2019 – Paul Casey: Round 1: 29th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2018 – Paul Casey: Round 1: 8th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 11th.
  • 2017 – Adam Hadwin: Round 1: 12th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2016 – Charl Schwartzel: Round 1: 25th, Round 2: 15th, Round 3: 8th.
  • 2015 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 38th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2014 – John Senden: Round 1: 45th, Round 2: 35th, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2013 – Kevin Streelman: Round 1: 70th, Round 2: 31st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2012 – Luke Donald: Round 1: 10th, Round 2: 4th, Round 3: 7th.
  • 2011 – Gary Woodland: Round 1: 6th, Round 2: 5th, Round 3: 4th.
  • 2010 – Jim Furyk: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2 2nd, Round 3: 1st.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 11 Valspar Championship winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2021 – Sam Burns: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: level.
  • 2019 – Paul Casey: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2018 – Paul Casey: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 5 back.
  • 2017 – Adam Hadwin: Round 1: 6 back, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 4 ahead.
  • 2016 – Charl Schwartzel: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 5 back.
  • 2015 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 5 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2014 – John Senden: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 8 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2013 – Kevin Streelman: Round 1: 8 back, Round 2: 7 back, Round 3: level.
  • 2012 – Luke Donald: Round 1: 6 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2011 – Gary Woodland: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2010 – Jim Furyk: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 3 ahead.

Form of Valspar Championship winners since 2010:

  • Sam Burns: 4th New Orleans/39th Harbour Town/MC TPC San Antonio/MC TPC Sawgrass.
  • Paul Casey: MC TPC Sawgrass/3rd Mexico/25th Riviera/2nd Pebble Beach.
  • Paul Casey: 12th Mexico/49th Riviera/8th Pebble/9th Abu Dhabi.
  • Adam Hadwin: 34th Riviera/39th Pebble/12th TPC Scottsdale/49th Torrey.
  • Charl Schwartzel: 17th Doral/45th Riviera/1st Tshwane/9th Nedbank.
  • Jordan Spieth: 17th Doral/4th Riviera/7th Pebble/MC Torrey Pines.
  • John Senden: 46th PGA National/18th Riviera/MC Pebble/69th PGA West.
  • Kevin Streelman: MC Puerto/41st PGA National/27th Riviera/40th Pebble.
  • Luke Donald: 6th Doral/56th Riviera/46th Abu Dhabi.
  • Gary Woodland: 6th PGA National/MC Pebble/5th TPC Scottsdale/58th Torrey.
  • Jim Furyk: 37th Doral/35th Pebble/20th Riviera/1st World Challenge.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2021 – Bradley – AM -7/64 75/1.
  • 2019 – Dahmen / Straka – Both AM -5/66 100/1 & 250/1.
  • 2018 – Conners – AM -4/67 200/1.
  • 2017 – Herman – AM -9/61 125/1.
  • 2016 – Duke / Howell III – AM/PM Split -4/67.
  • 2015 – Davis – PM -6/65.
  • 2014 – Chalmers/Every/Perez – 1AM/2PM Split -3/68.
  • 2013 – Stefani – PM -5/66.
  • 2012 – Harrington – AM -10/61.
  • 2011 – Casey – AM -7/64.
  • 2010 – Willis – AM -6/65.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of Bermudagrass PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 7 – Dustin Johnson.
  • 6 – Justin Thomas.
  • 4 – Jason Day, Brian Gay, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson.
  • 3 –  Kevin Kisner, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Henrik Stenson.
  • 2 –  Sam Burns, Luke Donald, Brooks Koepka, Davis Love III, Scott Piercy, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Robert Streb, Jimmy Walker, Bubba Watson.
  • 1 – Abraham Ancer, Jonas Blixt, Keegan Bradley, Wesley Bryan, Stewart Cink, Tyler Duncan, Tommy Gainey, Branden Grace, Lanto Griffin, Adam Hadwin, James Hahn, Tyrrell Hatton, Jim Herman, Mackenzie Hughes, Sung Kang, Martin Kaymer, Patton Kizzire, Jason Kokrak, Martin Laird, Andrew Landry, Adam Long, Peter Malnati, Graeme McDowell, Francesco Molinari, Collin Morikawa, Sebastian Munoz, Seung-yul Noh, Sean O’Hair, Carlos Ortiz, C.T. Pan, Pat Perez, J.T Poston, Charl Schwartzel, Scott Stallings, Kevin Streelman, Brian Stuard, Nick Taylor, Brendon Todd, Michael Thompson, Jhonattan Vegas, Aaron Wise, Gary Woodland.

In the past 10 renewals, elite players Jim Furyk (2010), Luke Donald (2012), Jordan Spieth (2015), Charl Schwartzel (2016) and of course Paul Casey (2018 & 2019) have all won here at Copperhead at relatively short odds. Furyk (30/1) had won the Chevron Challenge at Sherwood CC in the preceding December and was absolutely focused on winning his first PGA Tour title since 2007. Luke Donald (11/1), on the other hand, fresh from winning the 2011 Race to Dubai and PGA Tour Money List, was in a battle with Rory McIlroy over the World Number 1 spot. Copperhead was the perfect course at the perfect time. Jordan Spieth (16/1) in 2015 had unbelievably gone 17 months since his only PGA Tour victory at the 2013 John Deere Classic. He was in decent form and had won the 2014 World Challenge played in Florida the previous November. Charl Schwartzel (30/1) arrived in Tampa after winning in his home country only 4 weeks prior. Always one to follow when in good form, the World Number 32 (at the time) took the opportunity to win his first tournament in the United States since the 2011 Masters.

And in Paul Casey, we have a player who goes for a hat-trick of Valspar wins this week. Going back to his first win in 2018, the World Number 17 (at the time) had not won on the PGA Tour for just under 9 years. His form in to Tampa included top 10s in Abu Dhabi and at Pebble Beach and the previous week in the WGC-Mexico Championship he finished 12th off the back of a fast finishing -5/66 on Sunday at Chapultepec. 2019 saw him win with prior year form of 2nd at Pebble Beach and 3rd at the WGC Mexico Championship. From a betting perspective, he had been very popular at The Players Championship last time out when missing the cut.

From the non-elite (at the point of victory) perspective, in Gary Woodland (2011), Kevin Streelman (2012), John Senden (2014), Adam Hadwin (2017) and Sam Burns (2021) we have 5 Valspar champions who had between the four of them only 1 PGA Tour victory previously. That was the 2006 John Deere Classic won by Australian Senden, 8 years prior to winning here. His price was 125/1. Naturally the other 3 winners were all PGA Tour maidens, winning at 100/1 (Woodland), 200/1 (Streelman), 125/1 (Hadwin) and 80/1 (Burns). It’s undoubtedly a broad spectrum of winners.

Copperhead, as ever, is likely to offer a very stern test for a stronger than usual field in Tampa this week. So I’m looking for players who are in form with the putter, who are comfortable tough golf course players, and who have shown the ability this season to manage their games and scramble well.

My Final Valspar Championship Tips Are As Follows:

Dustin Johnson 2.5pts EW 16/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Seeing Dustin Johnson at Number 10 in the World Rankings takes some getting used to, but for me there were some great signs at TPC Sawgrass that the confidence is starting to return. Caught on the wrong side of the draw, his opening -3/69 was one of the better rounds for those who closed their round on Saturday (crazy I know) and although we can write off rounds 2 and 3, his Monday performance was eye-catching to say the least.

DJ isn’t that used to teeing off on Number 10 in a final round, but in tricky enough conditions with a gusting 10-20mph easterly and on a soft course, he produced a hole out eagle and 8 birdies versus a solitary bogey to shoot a -9/63. That tied the course record, joining the likes of Brooks Koepka and Hideki Matsuyama. It was also Johnson’s lowest round on the PGA Tour since a 63 shot at the 2020 Northern Trust at TPC Boston, and as far as Strokes Gained statistics are concerned he ranked 4th for Off the Tee, 3rd for Approach, 3rd for Tee to Green and 1st for Putting. Yes it might be prudent to take a more macro view in terms of 24 rounds or 36 rounds when it comes to Strokes Gained statistics, but I’m working of the principle that Dustin found his game in the final round at The Players.

And that peaks my interest this week at the Valspar. This is traditionally an event where first time winners strike, or where elite sorts win after a fallow period. Dustin certainly ticks that box on the basis he hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since the 2019 Masters. 6th here in 2019, he went off in the final pairing with Paul Casey who defended his title – he can clearly play the Copperhead course. And wins at Cog Hill (2010), Riviera (2017), Glen Oaks (2017), Glen Abbey (2018), Chapultepec (2019) and TPC River Highlands (2020) highlight a player who’s very comfortable on short/medium length courses featuring tree-lined corridors. He also tops the field this week for wins on Bermudagrass greens since 2008 with 7 in total. RESULT: T39

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Matt Fitzpatrick 2pts EW 28/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

I can remember being at Woburn in 2015 when Matt Fitzpatrick won the British Masters. It was his first of 7 DP World Tour titles which include a couple of DP World Tour Championship titles. The Marquess Course is tree-lined, with distinct driving and approach corridors, a course-type where Matt has had good success throughout his career. Take the Andalucía Masters which he won last October as further evidence and it’s well worth noting that Matt won the 2013 U.S. Amateur at a very stern, parkland golf course at Brookline Country Club, which we will see at the U.S. Open in June.

Continuing with the United States angle, Fitzpatrick first finished 7th at the 2016 Masters and since becoming a full PGA Tour member and Florida native (he has a Jupiter, Florida residence) has finished 5th (2021) at Riviera Country Club, 4th (2021) at Harbour Town, 3rd (2020) at Muirfield Village, 4th (2019) & 6th (2020) at TPC Southwind, and 6th (2020) at Olympia Fields. All tree-lined golf courses to varying degrees. He’s also no slouch in Florida with 2nd (2019), 9th (2020), 10th (2021) and 9th (2022) at Bay Hill, 11th (2021) at Concession, and 9th (2021) at TPC Sawgrass.

A form line of MC-9-10-6 on the early 2022 PGA Tour looks good to me and Matt in this field ranks 5th for Tee to Green, 16th for Putting and 4th for Current Form across my 8-week Strokes Gained trackers. We also know that since 2013 the Valspar has been won 3 times by PGA Tour maidens with course experience in Streelman, Hadwin and Burns, so I like the logic for the 27 year-old Sheffield man this week.

Interestingly there will also be 2 Fitzpatrick’s in the field this week as younger brother Alex earned a sponsor’s exemption into the field after he won the Valspar Collegiate Invitational – a high-level American college tournament – last year. RESULT: T5

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Gary Woodland 1.5pts EW 50/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

Gary Woodland is another who peaks my interest at this price point. The winner here in 2011 when claiming his first PGA Tour title, Gary will undoubtedly benefit from the missed cut he had at The Players last week. Now Pete Dye designs and Woodland don’t go together for whatever reason, but I’ve always liked the ex-World number 12 on shorter formats where he can club down. Indeed his win here, the Barracuda (2013), the Phoenix Open (2018) and his U.S. Open victory (2019) have all been on short/medium length golf courses.

5th at the Honda Classic and 5th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Gary has played some great stuff across the Florida swing, and as my podcast colleagues @GolfBetting and @AGoodTalkGolf keep telling me, Woodland should have won at Bay Hill.

Now Gary has always been the sort who needs to contend a couple of times before winning and for me that puts him in a great place to have a strong week here at Innisbrook. 10th and 19th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green at PGA National and Bay Hill respectively, the Kansas man also ranked in the top 10 across both for Greens in Regulation, which really is Woodland’s bread and butter. The putter has also been compliant, ranking 19th (Honda) and 10th (API) from a Strokes Gained perspective, so there’s plenty to like about the World Number 94 this week. RESULT: T21

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CT Pan 1pt EW 125/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

Another with a liking for shorter, tree-lined courses is C.T. Pan, who may well be inspired by the performances of other Team International President’s Cuppers at the moment. Prior to a Missed Cut at TPC Sawgrass, he was 15th at Honda and 9th at Riviera Country Club, translating to 9th and 24th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green.

A winner at Harbour Town in 2019 with a 2nd at Sedgefield Country Club in 2018, there’s a lot of Carolina course form that I like with Pan. 3rd at Colonial in 2019 also works and he’s also finished 8th at TPC River Highlands in 2016. Riviera, TPC River Highlands and Sedgefield are all courses that correlate nicely with Copperhead and C.T. also has Florida form at PGA National, where he’s finished 17th (2018), 3rd (2021) and the aforementioned 16th last month. Valspar champions Burns, Casey, Hadwin, Schwartzel, Donald and Woodland, all have contending top 10 finishes at the Honda Classic.

C.T. is Bermudagrass green positive and I like his chances at a good each-way price this week. RESULT: T48

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 14:15GMT 15.3.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.