Valspar Championship Preview and Predictions to Win
Tournament Dates: March 10-13, 2016
Course: Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead) Palm Harbor, FL
TV: The Golf Channel/NBC
by Evergreen, PGA Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
The spring thaw is officially here, at least in my neck of the woods and it wont be long until I can chase the pill around myself but until I actually get to put that peg in the ground, I guess watching the PGA on TV is still the best I can do. The Tour stays in sunny Florida for another week, trading in a blue monster for a Copperhead at the Valspar Championship. Being situated right after a WGC event isnt really the best spot on the schedule but the Valspar has been able to attract more than a handful of upper-tier stars as the Euro Tour guys are staying stateside for the most part and the Copperhead course at Innisbrook is a player-favorite layout. Jordan Speith won in a three-way playoff last year and will be back to defend his title against a deep field.
The Copperhead course is a fantastic bit of golf design that flies in the face of traditional Florida golf. Innisbrook sits on a parcel of land that is much more uneven than most of Florida golf country and is heavily tree-lined versus the wide-open venues like Doral. Water and sand are still prominent features in adding difficulty here but the hazard placement is more subtle and players like this course simply because of how straightforward the layout is. Everything is right in front of the golfers and the most successful are often the ones that execute the shots that are present. Most Florida courses offer some advantage to the big hitters but that is not the case at Copperhead and you only have to look at some recent champs to see how much this course favors accuracy. Names like Jim Furyk, Luke Donald and K.J. Choi really hammer home the point that this is an accuracy first golf course. The bombers can win here but they tend to pay a higher price when they miss the fairway than what we have seen so far this season.
Each week, we take a look at the golf betting odds and highlight the best bets. We make some picks to win the event and breakdown a couple of head-to-head matches that you can find at any bookie on our recommended sportsbooks list. Here are our picks to win the 2016 Valspar Championship.
Louis Oosthuizen (25 to 1 odds to win)
We havent seen much of Oosty so far in 2015-16, in fact, he has made just two WGC starts this season, including last week when he went T14. On the Euro side, he has played much more and has been playing well with a win at the Perth International and four top-12 finishes leading up to his hop across the pond. There are few that are better at ballstriking than Louis and it is only his abbreviated U.S. schedule that has kept him from being a more recognizable talent. He does not have a record of success here but I believe that is more related to him using this week as a warm-up in previous years. Oosty is hot to start the season and will now look to keep that going rather than work things out and that alone makes him a threat to win at a shotmakers course like this. He doesnt have enough rounds in to qualify his 2016 stats but he finished 2015 in the top-35 in total driving, ballstriking and scoring average. Those stats are more impressive when you consider he almost only plays against the best competition on the toughest courses.
Jason Dufner (30 to 1)
It has been a very successful start to the season for Duff, and like his personality, he has done it in the most quiet and unassuming way. Jason has missed just two cuts in eleven starts and won the CareerBuilder just about a month back. He finished tied for 11th last week and his last four Valpar outings have produced an average finish of 17th and he hasnt been worse than 24th over that stretch. Just a slight uptick in performance over those results will have him on the front page. He enters the week 24th in overall ballstriking so he should be able to navigate the tight Copperhead layout with relative ease and his putter has been good enough to net the 12th most birdies per round. There has been a tendency to drop some shots after missing greens this season but that should just be a blip on the radar as Dufner is not a bad scrambler by Tour standards.
Ryan Moore (40 to 1)
Ryan has played a pretty short schedule to this point but the results are hard to argue with as he has three top-10 finishes in just six starts and he has been 11th or better in three of his last four events. He managed a solo fifth here last year that could have been better if not for a Sunday 72 and there is no reason to think he cant get over this week. Moore isnt the kind of player with a bunch of standout stats but he has no obvious weakness either. He is somewhere between 30th and 50th in key metrics like fairways, birdies, scoring and scrambling with top-24 marks in one-putt percentage and overall putting average. He can solve the tee-to-green puzzle with a dependable iron game and his putter produces, there isnt much more you can say.
Picks to win based on final score after all four rounds. You can find the biggest variety of single round matches prop bets at the web’s best sportsbook: 5Dimes.
Matt Kuchar v. Justin Thomas (pick to win: Kuchar)
I think Innisbrook is such a demanding course that you could simply bet the more accurate driver in every head-to-head matchup and come out ahead. Kuchar is the more accurate off the tee in this match but there is more weight behind him being the favorite than just the fairways hit percentage. Kuchar has an experience advantage in general over Thomas and that tends to pay off bigger when the scoring opportunities are not linked to driver distance. Thomas is averaging more birdies per round but it is Kuchar that is the better scoring player so long story short, Thomas is more mistake prone and that is a bad thing on a course that punishes misses. Kuchar is steady and wont get fed up with simply taking what the course gives him and I like him in this pairing.
Keegan Bradley v. Ian Poulter (pick to win: Bradley)
These are relatively well-known players with solid career records but this match might be won by the guy that simply makes the cut as neither have done much this season. Both stat sheets are peppered with triple-digit ranks and that is not a good thing when headed into a course that demands some control of your overall game. Im going with Bradley even though Poulter is the more accurate driver because Poulter hasnt done anything after hitting fairways, ranking outside the top-100 in greens hit. Short and straight is only good when you hit greens and right now, it is Bradley that finds the putting surface more often. Both players are struggling to net birdies and score with any kind of consistency but I do think Bradley is closer to finding his old form as his putter seems to be the sole cause of his woes. Bradley was one of the players that needed to make the transition from the belly putter and there are plenty of bumps in the road associated with that. He has done better in the past and I think he is the better candidate to figure it out this week as Poulter (213th in birdie average) just seems too far from top form in a number of categories. Where are you betting your Valspar Championship picks? Did you know that you can get a 100% matching deposit bonus and that your credit card will work for deposits at Bovada Sportsbook? They offer live Texas Hold’em too!
Good luck and good golf!