Valspar Championship Predictions
Dates: March 12-15, 2015
Course: Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead) Palm Harbor, FL
TV: The Golf Channel/NBC
by Evergreen, PGA Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
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We are barreling right through the 2015 PGA Tour schedule and spring is right around the corner. There might still be more than a few weeks until Mother Nature lets all us Joes back on the course but the pros have no such worries. The Florida Swing continues this week with the Valspar Championship and players that wish to qualify for the field at Augusta are seriously running short on time. The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook welcomes a strong field this week with Euro stars Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson leading the way. Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed highlight the American attendees and Jon Senden returns to defend his 2014 crown. Jim Furyk and Luke Donald join in as former Valspar title holders.
Much of the early PGA Tour action is held on easy courses. I say easy only in reference to players seeing mostly wide-open spaces at the Hawaii, California and Florida host courses that occupy the starting rotation. Players can often work out kinks with the driver as few layouts require precise shots throughout the course and scores often trend very low when the best in the world are allowed to make mistakes and still score. Copperhead is not that kind of course. At 7,340 yards, the par-71 isnt overly long but elevation changes and tight preferred lines make this course very difficult. It doesnt take much time to look over the list of recent champs to know this is a shotmakers course. Furyk, Donald, K.J. Choi and Retief Goosen have all bested the field here and they didnt do it with long drives. A complete game is required to negotiate not only the meandering fairways but also the well-guarded greens that are often elevated and positioned to accept shots from only a few locations. Add it all up and you get a course that is nicknamed the Snake Pit.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight the players that we think have the best chance to win. We make some picks for the outright win and breakdown a couple of head to head matches that you can find at any golf sportsbook. Here are our picks to win the 2015 Valspar Championship.
He is young and still gaining experience but Jordan is about as fearless as they come. Seriously, this kid is Tiger-like in his confidence game. Spieth was 20thhere last year and while that isnt that exciting, he never broke 70 and still hung around. He was T7 in his debut a year earlier so he has a handle on this course. In 2015, Jordan is averaging a 6th place finish each time he tees it up and he has the kind of game that rarely takes a break. Spieth is 18thin total driving so expect him to be set up well and he can take advantage of his length when the opportunity presents it. Jordan is 5thin putting average and nets the 18thbest scoring average. He is poised beyond his years and has more moxie than he should considering his relative lack of experience. A good bet to win and in nearly every head to head.
Moore got his season off to a great start by winning the CIMB all the way back in November. The high end results havent been there since but he has still managed to be at par or better in all but one of his last fifteen rounds. The key stats for Ryan this week are his 29thbest fairways hit mark and 7thranked putting average. If you can find the short stuff and make your birdies and key par saves, you can score and win here. Ryan is 23rdin birdie average and that is more than enough considering he gives very few back to the field. Moore isnt one of the more well known names on Tour but he is a smart and hard-fighting pro and that seems to be a good recipe at Innisbrook.
Na is one of the shorter drivers on Tour so there are plenty of times when he is at a big disadvantage but not this week. Na finished T2 here last week on the strength of his driving accuracy and he hit nearly 80% of fairways on the way to that runner-up finish. Playing from the fairways is crucial and that makes Kevin a good bet again this week. He was second to Moore at the CIMB and has just one missed cut on the season. There really arent any standout stats on Nas sheet but he is historically one of the more well-rounded players, often in the top-20 of the all-around despite the lack of a power game. Copperhead makes use of a players entire game so it is no wonder that Na has made three straight cuts at this event.
If you just cant help laying a little action on a longshot, take a look at Kelly. He has T21 and T20 finishes here in 2012 and 2013 and is playing well enough to have two top-10s already this season. Jerry fits the mold of the control player and enters the week inside the top-50 in both fairways and strokes gained-putting. He is 33rdin scoring average and is among the best in getting the most out of every round with a top-15 scrambling stat that includes the 2ndbest up-and-down rate from inside 30 yards. Kelly probably cant win a shootout on Tour but this kind of event is still in his wheelhouse.
Head to Head Matches
Picks to win based on final score after all four rounds. Check with your favorite online betting site for single round matches and a variety of prop bets. For the most PGA betting options online, check out 5Dimes! They also have the lowest cost odds!
Matt Kuchar v. Patrick Reed (pick to win: Kuchar)
Reed is the better putter in this match and that would normally be enough to tab him to win but it is Kuchar that makes fewer mistakes and that is too big of an element at Copperhead. Reed makes more birdies on average but also more bogeys as Kuchar gets the edge in scoring average. If they are handing out coupons for birdies on the first tee, Im taking Reed but this will be a four day grind and that fits better with Kuchar and his low-risk style. Both players have a good chance to do well here but there was no one better at getting up-and-down than Kuchar and that should have him a stroke or two up on Reed come Sunday.
Henrik Stenson v. Justin Rose (pick to win: Rose)
This one is a bit of a contrarian pick as Stenson finished last year as the #1 ballstriker on Tour. I cant say enough about how important ballstriking at Copperhead is but Henrik is making his Valspar debut and experience here is very important as well. There are too many holes where the player needs to know exactly where to be, or not be, and that isnt often something that can be picked up in a few practice rounds. Rose was T8 here last year and nets a better scoring average than his birdie numbers would suggest so he is relatively mistake free. Stenson has some of the best raw birdie stats but his scoring average is barely top-30 as he is prone to bogeys as well. Henrik is just 171stin scrambling while Rose is 31st and that is too big of a gap at this kind of course. Stenson is a great player but Id rather have a capable opponent with some course familiarity.
Good luck and good golf!