Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Valspar Championship Tips 2024

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It was great to land Scottie Scheffler last week at The Players Championship – I grabbed 6/1 Win Only with bet365 on Monday. Defying a number of tournament trends and more importantly a neck injury which he received as early as his 2nd hole on Friday, Scottie simply never gave up and willed himself to a courageous victory. Impressive beyond belief I thought. I also landed full each-way payouts on Brian Harman (T2 66/1) and Hideki Matsuyama (T6 28/1), making it my best ever Players Championship since we started Golf Betting System back in 2009.

With only 4 weeks to go now until The Masters, the PGA Tour moves to Palm Harbor, Florida. The Valspar Championship is played on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort near Tampa Bay. It’s a tough examination which tends to rank as one of the hardest courses outside of the Major Championship venues each year. It’s a decent enough field this year, with the likes of Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood, Keegan Bradley, Sahith Theegala and Copperhead whisperer Sam Burns going for his third Valspar title.

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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, +6,300 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 restoration 2015. Course Type: Carolina-type, Technical, Medium Length; Par: 71; Length: 7,340 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 9; Number of Sand Bunkers: 74; Acres of Fairway: 25; Fairways: Celebration Bermudagrass overseeded with Ryegrass; Rough: Celebration Bermudagrass overseeded with Ryegrass 3.75″; Greens: 5,822 sq.ft average TifEagle Bermudagrass with Poa Trivialis overseed; Tournament Stimp: 12ft.

Course Scoring Average: 2016: 72.62 (+1.62), Difficulty Rank 6 of 50 courses. 2017: 71.51 (+0.51), Difficulty Rank 17 of 50 courses. 2018: 71.97 (+0.97), Difficulty Rank 6 of 51 courses. 2019: 71.98 (+0.98), Difficulty Rank 6 of 49 courses. 2021: 70.96 (-0.04), Difficulty Rank 20 of 51 courses. 2022: 70.23 (-0.77), Difficulty Rank 29 of 50 courses. 2023: 71.94 (+0.94), Difficulty Rank 7 of 49 courses.

Copperhead Course – Innisbrook Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for Copperhead and how they compare to recent courses that we’ve seen 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.
  • Pete Dye 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.

Course Overview: The Copperhead course restoration in 2016 has not 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 circa 5,800 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 close to 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.

When set up correctly, Copperhead is a fast, tight and relatively long course, where attackable holes are relatively few. This is definitely a tougher test where a mature, major-like, all-round game is required, unless soft and receptive turf conditions as we have seen recently allow for slightly freer scoring conditions.

Worthy of note is that 3 of the last 6 winners here lost strokes off the tee, so top-level drivers of the golf ball may not have an advantage here. In reality it’s a second shot golf course, which undoubtedly favours a left to right fader.

valspar championship tips

Valspar Championship Winners: 2023: Taylor Moore (-10); 2022: Sam Burns (-17); 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).

  • 2023: Taylor Moore 71-67-69-67 -10/274
  • 2022: Sam Burns 64-67-67-69 -17/267
  • 2021: Sam Burns 67-63-69-68 -17/267
  • 2019: Paul Casey 70-66-68-72 -8/276
  • 2018: Paul Casey 70-68-71-65 -10/274

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

  • 2023 – Taylor Moore: Round 1: 32nd, Round 2: 7th, Round 3: 4th.
  • 2022 – Sam Burns: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 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 Valspar Championship winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament since 2010:

  • 2023 – Taylor Moore: Round 1: 5 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2022 – Sam Burns: Round 1: level, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 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.

OWGR of Valspar Championship Winners: 2023: T Moore 101; 2022: Burns 17; 2021: Burns 94; 2019: Casey 15; 2018: Casey 17.

Cut Line: 2023: +1; 2022: -3; 2021: -1; 2019: +1; 2018: +3.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2023: Round 1 -5; Round 2 -7; Round 3 -8; Round 4 -10.
  • 2022: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -14; Round 3 -18; Round 4 -17.
  • 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.

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.

My published predictor is available here. Top 10 of my published predictor are: Xander Schauffele, Sam Burns, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas, Nick Taylor, Keith Mitchell, Cameron Young, Jordan Spieth, Doug Ghim and Victor Perez.

Our brand new predictor model is running alongside, where you can build your own rankings in live time, using the variables listed on the left hand side.

Valspar Championship Winners & Prices: 2023: T Moore 70/1; 2022: Burns 25/1; 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 5 Renewals Average: 45/1; Overall Average: 67/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2023: Thursday: High of 76. Wind ESE 6-12 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 81. Wind S 14-18 mph with gusts up to 25 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy. High of 78. Wind SW 12-15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph. Sunday: Mostly cloudy and breezy. High of 62. Wind NNE 12-15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph.
  • 2022: Thursday: Sunny. High of 76. Wind WNW 6-12 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 82. Wind SW 10-15 mph, gusting to 22 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 82. Wind SW 7-14 mph. Sunday: Mostly sunny. High of 76. Wind NNW 8-14 mph.
  • 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, like the rest of Florida, has had a wet start to 2024. 243mm (9.5 inches) of rain has fallen in the immediate Innisbrook Resort area. With +65% chance of thunderstorms on tournament Monday and +85% chance of rain on Friday, I’d expect a course that won’t get as firm and fast as Copperhead can be. Does that make it easier?  On Thursday yes, with low winds and cut in the turf expect good scoring. Temperatures will be 19-24 degrees Celsius (66-75 Fahrenheit) across the tournament.

But it’s the wind and strength of it that we need to take note of this week. 25 -30 mph southerly winds on Friday, which contains likely electrical activity, will potentially cause a suspension in play. The weekend sees no rain, but Saturday sees 15-20mph northerly winds, with +20mph gusts on Sunday, from a north easterly direction. In summary I’m expecting the Copperhead course to put up some resistance this week, despite the softer than usual turf conditions.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Farmers Insurance Open / Ras Al Khaimah Championship which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events, where recorded. Player rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Kevin Dougherty; 2) Rafael Campos; 3) Brice Garnett; 4)  Hayden Springer; 5) Xander Schauffele; 6) Patrick Fishburn / Webb Simpson; 8) Cameron Champ /  Keith Mitchell; 10)  Keegan Bradley / Min Woo Lee; 12) Alejandro Tosti / Cameron Young / Kevin Yu; 15) Norman Xiong; 16) Sam Burns / Rico Hoey / Maverick McNealy; 19) Patrick Rodgers / Jordan Spieth / Jimmy Stanger; 22) Sepp Straka; 23) Ben Silverman; 24) Akshay Bhatia / Sungjae Im.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Tony Finau; 2) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 3) Justin Thomas; 4) Parker Coody / Xander Schauffele / Nick Taylor; 7) Lucas Glover; 8) Doug Ghim / Cameron Young; 10) Max Greyserman; 11) Victor Perez; 12) Sam Burns / Ben Martin; 14) Blaine Hale Jnr / Andrew Putnam / Greyson Sigg; 17) Rico Hoey / Sam Ryder / Roger Sloan; 20) Brian Harman; 21) Ryo Hisatsune / Keith Mitchell; 23) Tyson Alexander / Rafael Campos / Taylor Moore / Thorbjorn Olesen / Carson Young.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Max Greyserman / Thorbjorn Olesen; 3) Joe Highsmith; 4) Xander Schauffele; 5) Mackenzie Hughes / Andrew Novak; 7) Maverick McNealy; 8) Brian Harman; 9) Ben Griffin; 10) Joel Dahmen / Sungjae Im / S.H. Kim / Josh Teater / Brendon Todd; 15) Erik Barnes; 16) Aaron Baddeley / Seamus Power / Andrew Putnam; 19) Harry Hall; 20) Wilson Furr; 21) Blaine Hale Jnr / Justin Thomas; 23) Robby Shelton / Jordan Spieth; 25) Andrew Schenk.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Xander Schauffele; 2) Tony Finau; 3) Justin Thomas; 4) Doug Ghim; 5) Parker Coody; 6) Lucas Glover; 7) Rafael Campos; 8) Cameron Young; 9) Blaine Hale Jnr; 10) Nick Taylor; 11) Sam Burns / Victor Perez; 13) Keegan Bradley; 14) Brian Harman / Keith Mitchell; 16) Bud Cauley / Brice Garnett; 18) Maverick McNealy; 19) Thorbjorn Olesen; 20) Taylor Moore / Andrew Novak; 22) Rico Hoey / Jordan Spieth; 24) Ryo Hisatsune; 25) Max Greyserman / Seamus Power.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Taylor Montgomery; 2) Trace Crowe; 3) Nick Taylor; 4) Sam Burns; 5) Aaron Baddeley; 6) Luke Donald; 7) Stewart Cink; 8) Jacob Bridgeman; 9) Chesson Hadley / Beau Hossler / Jordan Spieth; 12) Pierceson Coody; 13) Hayden Buckley / Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 15) Doug Ghim / Hayden Springer; 17) Ryan McCormick / Adam Schenk / Brendon Todd; 20) K.H. Lee; 21) Brian Harman / Maverick McNealy / Justin Suh; 24) Jorge Campillo / Webb Simpson.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Doug Ghim; 2) Hayden Springer; 3) Xander Schauffele; 4) Brice Garnett; 5) Sam Burns; 6) Nick Taylor; 7) Tony Finau; 8) Rafael Campos; 9) Maverick McNealy; 10) Beau Hossler; 11) Justin Thomas / Cameron Young; 13) Andrew Novak; 14) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 15) Brian Harman / Lucas Glover; 17) Billy Horschel / Keith Mitchell / Taylor Montgomery / Aaron Rai; 21) Erik Barnes; 22) Andrew Putnam / Adam Schenk / Jordan Spieth; 25) Sam Ryder.

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

Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the Strokes Gained Stats of the Valspar Championship winners since 2016 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2023, Taylor Moore (-10). SG Off the Tee: 2nd, SG Approach: 5th, SG Around the Green: 40th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 9th.
  • 2022, Sam Burns (-17). SG Off the Tee: 56th, SG Approach: 3rd, SG Around the Green: 13th, SG Tee to Green: 4th, SG Putting: 8th.
  • 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: 33rd, SG Approach: 6th, SG Around the Green: 19th, SG Tee to Green: 4th, SG Putting: 13th.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of Valspar Championship winners since 2016 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this long, Carolina-type golf course:

  • 2023, Taylor Moore (-10). 307 yards (10th), 55.8% fairways (32nd), 69.4% greens in regulation (2nd), 35’10” proximity to hole (22nd), 77.3 % scrambling (5th), 1.72 putts per GIR (26th).
  • 2022, Sam Burns (-17). 305 yards (18th), 57.7% fairways (38th), 69.4% greens in regulation (13th), 33’9″ proximity to hole (35th), 68.2 % scrambling (40th), 1.58 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 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).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 19th, Driving Accuracy: 36th, Greens in Regulation: 14th, Proximity to Hole: 25th, Scrambling: 25th, Putting Average 6th.

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

Taylor Moore (2023): “It was 64, 64 inside of 7 feet this week, so that was pretty awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything close to that, so that was really cool. Just a testament to the work I’ve put in with my coach and my team and, yeah, that was pretty sick to see.

Yeah, tee shot on 15, 175-ish, wind down off the left, it was a pretty comfortable 9-iron there. Once it took off, I knew it was going to be on the green. I didn’t know how close it would be. But, yeah, it landed perfect and went to 6, 7 feet there, and I was able to knock that one in.

Yeah, 16 was kind of a bare lie there in the left rough, had some trees overhanging, so I had to keep it low at first, and then really was just trying to get it to land front edge of the green with a little bit of a lower flight. That way, it would kind of run back to that pin if I got it on line. So had a gap, really didn’t have much tree trouble. Yeah, it came off the club good and I knew it was going to be past the front edge once I got clean contact.”

Sam Burns (2022): “On 18 I hit an okay 3-wood, didn’t hit it great. Just it’s just kind of a position shot, just trying to get it in the fairway. Then we had 183. So just trying to hit a 185 7-iron. Got a couple past, but fairly straightforward putt from there. I honestly thought I missed it. It hit something and kind of shot little right halfway. But it caught the right side.”

“It’s only Thursday. I think the golf course, the greens are really receptive with the rain we’ve gotten the last week. Yeah, I think the golf course will continue to firm up after we get some sun and wind and I think it’s going to play really well the next few days.”

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.

Incoming Form of Valspar Championship winners since 2010:

  • Taylor Moore: 35th TPC Sawgrass/39th Bay Hill/ MC Riviera/14th TPC Scottsdale.
  • Sam Burns: 26th TPC Sawgrass/9th Bay Hill/ MC Riviera/MC TPC Scottsdale.
  • 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.

  • 2023 – Brehm / Jaeger / Schenk – 2AM/1PM -5/66 250/1, 100/1, 125/1.
  • 2022 – Burns / Hadwin / Lipsky / Vegas – 1AM/3PM -7/64 35/1, 66/1, 80/1, 125/1.
  • 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 – Bradley / 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:

  • 6 – Justin Thomas.
  • 5 – Jordan Spieth.
  • 4 – Sam Burns, Billy Horschel, Zach Johnson, Camilo Villegas.
  • 3 – Kevin Kisner, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Brandt Snedeker.
  • 2 – Luke Donald, Lucas Glover, Nick Taylor.
  • 1 – Aaron Baddeley, Keegan Bradley, Cameron Champ, Stewart Cink, Austin Cook, Tyler Duncan, Tony Finau, Adam Hadwin, Nick Hardy, Garrick Higgo, J.B. Holmes, Sungjae Im, Peter Malnati, Keith Mitchell, Francesco Molinari, Taylor Moore, Seamus Power, Davis Riley, Scott Stallings, Sepp Straka, Kevin Streelman, Adam Svensson, Brendon Todd, Jhonattan Vegas, Gary Woodland.

In the past 13 renewals, elite players Jim Furyk (2010), Luke Donald (2012), Jordan Spieth (2015), Charl Schwartzel (2016), Paul Casey (2018 & 2019) and Sam Burns (2022) 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.

In Paul Casey, going back to his first win in 2018 (25/1), the World Number 17 (at the time) had not won on the PGA Tour for just under 9 years. His form into 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 (25/1) 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.

And in Sam Burns, we have a player whose first win in 2021 came when he had just broken into the World’s top 100 players, but in 2022 he ranked 17th in the OWGR. The Florida Swing had seen him finish 9th at Bay Hill and 26th the week before at The Players. That undersells his performance at Sawgrass, where he had been 2nd after 54 holes and played in the Sunday/Monday final group.

From the non-elite (at the point of victory) perspective, in Gary Woodland (2011), Kevin Streelman (2012), John Senden (2014), Adam Hadwin (2017), Sam Burns (2021) and Taylor Moore (2023), we have 6 Valspar champions who had between 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 4 winners were all PGA Tour maidens, winning at 100/1 (Woodland), 200/1 (Streelman), 125/1 (Hadwin), 80/1 (Burns) and 70/1 (Moore) respectively. 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:

Cameron Young 2pts EW 22/1 (8EW, 1/5) with bet365

Of the elites at the top end of the betting market nobody overly appeals at skinny odds, until I get to World Number 23 or Datagolf ranked Number 28 Cameron Young.  Regulars will know I’ve been tracking Young for a number of events so you could say this is a FOMO bet, but Cameron has the game to compete on the Copperhead Course in my opinion. 4 top-8 Major Championship finishes in his last 7 Major appearances tells us all we need to know about the 26 year-old from Scarborough, New York at a Valspar test which is likely to be stretching.

From a Florida perspective, 13th (2022) and 10th (2023) at Bay Hill, plus 16th (2022) and 4th (2024) at PGA National work. Plus this Copperhead Course plays far more as a Carolina-type golf course so Cameron’s 3rd (2022) at Harbour Town works perfectly. I know it’s his course debut, but the likes of Davis Riley (2022) and Viktor Hovland (2021) have gone close across the past 3 years on their course debut.

PGA Tour maidens Woodland, Streelman, Hadwin, Burns and Taylor Moore have won their first PGA Tour titles here since 2010, and I expect Young is more than focussed on winning his first title here this week, rather than simply having a run out to tune-up for The Masters, which is only 4 weeks away. RESULT: 2nd

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Nick Taylor 1.5pts EW 33/1 (8EW, 1/5) with BetFred

Nick Taylor in Presidents Cup year is one I fancy for the test this week. Up to 24th in the Official World Golf Rankings and well within the top 50 in the Datagolf rankings, Taylor has undoubtedly upped his game over recent times. 2 PGA Tour victories in his last 26 outings, with a further 7 top-25 finishes shows a level of consistency we never used to see from the Canadian. That level of high performance can also be seen across my 8 week Strokes Gained tracker numbers where Nick ranks in this field top 10 for Tee to Green and Current Form, plus top 5 for Approach and Putting. Not bad for his price this week.

10th here in similar conditions last year, with a couple of supporting top 25 finishes across 8 outings here, golf math would suggest he goes better 12 months on. T2 with Xander Schauffele after 36 holes last week at TPC Sawgrass, Nick’s eventual finish of 26th would have disappointed – however in the cold light of day Copperhead, with fewer penalties Off the Tee for missing fairways, should suit the Scottsdale resident in my view.

Taylor has also won 2 of his 4 Tour titles on Bermudagrass greens, with his win at TPC Scottsdale in February coming on similar TifEagle Bermudagrass with Poa Trivialis putting surfaces. RESULT: T64

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Kevin Yu 1pt EW 90/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Taking the PGA Tour first time victory angle, Kevin Yu is another I really like this week.

Kevin is so inconsistent in 2024 that odds compilers cannot slash his odds too much. and if I were to make a list of second-season players who are most likely to win soon, Yu would be near the top of it. 3rd at The American Express, 6th at the Farmers Insurance Open, and 9th at the Cognizant Classic is 2024 form that many of his peers in this betting market would love to have, but those results have been surrounded by MC-58-MC-MC-MC. As I said Yu is inconsistent and clearly I doubt he has any idea when he’s going to play well – but when he does, it’s super high class.

To this point, Bermudagrass has been his favourite putting surface across 40 PGA Tour starts with 3rd in Bermuda (2022), 3rd at PGA West (2024) and 9th at PGA National (2024), all arriving on shorter formats. Indeed the 3rd at The Amex also came on Bermuda Poa Trivialis putting surfaces.

4th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green at the Cognizant, he also ranked 1st for Strokes Gained Off the Tee last week at TPC Sawgrass where he naturally Missed the Cut! RESULT: MC

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Victor Perez 1pt EW 100/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Victor Perez will arrive in Palm Harbor with the advantage of actually playing the Valspar Championship last year. A non-PGA Tour member, he travelled to Florida having not played competitive golf for over a month, arriving off 13th place at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship. He had also won the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi that preceding January – a win that effectively qualified him for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The Valspar was his warm-up for Austin Country Club the following week, and he played well enough, finishing 45th.

12 months on and Victor is in his rookie season on the PGA Tour and playing very nicely. 16th at PGA National saw the Frenchman 4th heading into Sunday and the Edinburgh, Scotland resident, then flew directly to Puerto Rico where he finished 3rd, shooting -15/201 over the closing 54 holes in windswept conditions.

A 3-time DP World Tour winner, Perez has always been the sort to hold form over a few tournaments, and with no guaranteed PGA Tour status he has to continue playing well to lock up his playing privileges for next year and to possibly gain access to the 2024 Major Championships. 4th at the 2021 WGC Dell Technologies Match Play and 12th at last year’s PGA Championship, Victor is a high class operator when at his best and I can see him going very well this week in a weak enough Valspar field. RESULT: MC

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Mackenzie Hughes 1pt EW 100/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

If this does turn into a high wind, high scoring, low Greens in Regulation type affair, Mackenzie Hughes has to be live.

Those with fantastic short games have always had half a chance on the Copperhead Course with Jordan Spieth being the best example, but they tend to “emerge” when conditions are tough and the wind is blowing – for obvious reasons.

Hughes caught my eye at Riviera Country Club with 31st spot and since then he’s delivered 30th at Bay Hill, which is ultimately way too long for him, and 26th last week at TPC Sawgrass. Making the cut on the number, Mackenzie then shot 69-68 over the weekend which was T9 for weekend scoring. Uncharacteristically that was powered by Strokes Gained Tee to Green ranks of 26th (Saturday) and 9th (Sunday), with Mackenzie seemingly adding a little distance to his game of late plus ranking 19th for Approach on Sunday. Overall Hughes ranked  17th for Total Driving, 12th for Ball Striking and 11th for Tee to Green where he was positive across all categories, not simply relying on his incredible short game.

A 2-time winner on the PGA Tour, those wins have come at Sea Island (2016) and the Country Club of Jackson (2022) on Bermudagrass greens. 13th here in 2019, if he wants to make the International President’s Cup team then weeks like this are where he needs to thrive. RESULT: T3

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Adrien Dumont De Chassart 0.5pt EW 300/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Many won’t have noticed that Adrien Dumont De Chassart arrived on the PGA Tour last time out at the Puerto Rico Open. Remember this is a Belgian 23 year-old (at the time) who took the Korn Ferry Tour by storm last year by winning the BMW Charity Pro-Am in South Carolina on his Korn Ferry debut, and then proceeded to reel-off 5 top 10 finishes across consecutive tournaments earning his card for the PGA Tour. He then came to the DP World Tour and was being talked about in conversations as a potential wild card for Luke Donald’s Ryder Cup squad – clearly Ludvig Aberg soon put paid to that!

Dumont De Chassart in 2024 has struggled to establish himself at the top level, but made cuts at Torrey Pines and TPC Scottsdale in “real” fields were the pre-cursor for 6th spot at the alternate Puerto Rico Open last time out. 8th for Total Driving, 5th for Greens in Regulation and 2nd for Ball Striking, Adrien shot -18/198 across his final 54 holes at Grand Reserve Country Club to finish 6th behind Brice Garnett.

Clearly this is a grade up, but as we discussed on the Golf Betting System Podcast last week, we are expecting big things from the now 24 year-old and who knows, they might actually happen at the Valspar this week. If they don’t we will continue to monitor closely. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 14:05GMT 18.3.24 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.