The Valspar Championship Preview and Picks to Win
Tournament Dates: March 8th-11th, 2018
Golf Course: Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Course) - Palm Harbor, FL
Television: The Golf Channel/NBC
By Evergreen of Predictem.com
With just about a month to go before the Masters, the PGA Tour schedule moves into that all important lead-in phase with players getting sharp for Augusta. Phil Mickelson completed his stated goal of winning an event as part of his Masters prep and many others will be looking to follow suit with a good showing at this week’s Valspar Championship. The Valspar is one of the younger stops on Tour with the first edition coming just eighteen years ago but this event, and the host course, has gained a quick reputation for being a tough test. Tiger Woods will again tee it up and he searches for the right feel with his “new” swing. Woods is a 25 to 1 shot to win this week and the online betting sites like him to see the weekend with a -200 attached to his prop bet for a made cut. Adam Hadwin will defend his 2017 title against a deep field that is top heavy with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth. After some relatively easy conditions to start the year, Copperhead will provide some of the toughest shotmaking challenges and this event will surely crown a deserving winner.
The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook should be a favorite for any fan that likes to see ballstriking prowess win over raw power. The 7,430 yard, par-71 host layout features tree-lined fairways and plenty of target golf off the tee to get into the right approach positions. Those approaches are often required to be pinpoint as Copperhead’s greens tend to be shallow and that leads to even the “easy” holes playing over par for the field. The necessity of direction control off the tee and distance control on approach has led to players like Jim Furyk, Luke Donald and K.J. Choi winning here. Players will need a fully competent tee-to-green game to hang in this one and the bombers on Tour will have to make sure they temper their approach or pay a stiff price for wayward drives.
Each week, we take a look at BOVADA SPORTSBOOK and highlight the best values on the board. We make some picks to win and breakdown a couple of popular head-to-head matches that you can find at just about any golf betting outlet. Here are our picks to win the 2018 Valspar Championship.
Henrik Stenson (20 to 1 odds to win)
Stenson is making his first start since a T2 way back in October but this has been his typical US kickoff event so no real need to worry about rust. Going back to 2015, he has finished 4th, 11th, and 7th at Copperhead so he is coming here most often in winning shape. Stenson is getting a little grey in his beard but that hasn’t kept him from putting up top-tier numbers in fairways and greens and he still pipes it out there around 300 yards on average. He finished 2017 with over four birdies per round and that is a terrific rate when you consider he is playing an abbreviated scheduel full of tough scoring events. His overall strokes gained (1.266) is a top-10 stat and he simply is about that much better than the field when he is on.
Charl Schwartzel (55 to 1)
Schwartzel has made just two starts at Innisbrook but they have been money with a win in 2016 and 6th place last season. He has struggled somewhat to start this season but that was exactly the case leading into this event the last two years as well and there was no trouble turning it around. You won’t see a lot of top-20 stats on Schwartzel’s sheet but he is top-50 in distance, top-60 in putting average, and top-45 in tee-to-green, scoring and total strokes gained. That balance helps him grind out good rounds at tough courses and he can keep the ship on an even keel with a no-mistakes approach.
Matt Kuchar (60 to 1)
Given Matt’s no-nonsense approach, it is not surprising to see that he has made five straight cuts at the Valspar. Over that stretch, he has three top-22 finishes, including a T11 two years back. That is good but not great and while he will need to do a bit better than his last couple of starts, he does have a T5 in Phoenix to prove his swing is not that far off. Kuch isn’t winning any long drive competitions but his scoring average always ranks better than his raw birdie numbers so he will wring every last drop out of his rounds. He enters the week inside the top-30 in approach shot proximity and that will certainly help him find the right spots on these greens. Given his veteran level of experience and recent success here, Matt makes a good longshot look.
Picks to win based on predicted score for all four rounds. Check with 5DIMES SPORTSBOOK for single round match-ups and a variety of prop bets.
Sergio Garcia v. Justin Rose (pick to win: Rose)
Garcia would have breezed to a win against Rose last week as Sergio ran in the top-10 with Rose back at T37 but it is Rose that is a bit better built for this week. Even though Garcia is one of the better pure ballstrikers on Tour, Rose hits closer approaches on average and his birdie average is better by a significant margin. Garcia is always at the mercy of his putter and even though Rose isn’t overwhelming on the greens, he is better with the flatstick and that is a key in winning any head-to-head. Rose is just a little sharper when he is on and I am taking that to win at any tough track.
Chez Reavie v. Gary Woodland (pick to win: Reavie)
This is the David v. Goliath match with Reavie outside the top-140 in driving distance with Woodland at 9th entering the week. Reavie is the much more accurate player however and checks in at 4th in fairways with a top-20 in greens hit. Woodland is right there in GIR but he does it by putting short irons in his hands after those monster drives. Copperhead will take away a bit of that aggressiveness from Gary and make him play away from his strengths. Reavie is 7th in proximity with Woodland is 84th so it will be advantage Chez with the irons. These men battled for a title just a few weeks back with Woodland getting the playoff win but Reavie is the better fit for this week and adds a superior scrambling game as the clincher.
Good luck and good golf!