After a very fun team event in New Orleans, the PGA Tour is making a quick pitstop just west of Tampa, Fla., this weekend. Innisbrook Resort will play host as the professionals will take their hacks on the Copperhead Course for the Valspar Championship.
Over 150 golfers will be participating this weekend after last season’s event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With temperatures set to be in the mid-80s all weekend, expect some beautiful scenery with a field that has plenty of star power.
After a week off, KSR Golf is back to pick some winners in case you need to chase on Sunday after a bad day or two at the track. Let’s ride.
When the last three holes of a course are called “The Snake Pit”, the professionals are in for a pretty tough week. Copperhead is one of the biggest challenges in Florida for PGA Tour players, and there will be many obstacles to overcome this weekend.
The fairways are lined with trees while there are water hazards all over the course. There are plenty of doglegs and a ton of bunkers to maneuver around if the ball gets out of the fairway. This will be a tough weekend for many in the field.
However, the course has four Par 5s so there will be scoring chances available. With that said, most of the Par 3s are over 200 yards so strokes can be lost there. The Par 71 track stretches 7,340 yards and will be a difficult test for players this weekend.
Advanced Stat of the Week
Whenever dealing with hard courses that even pros can struggle with, going with the ever-faithful strokes gained tee-to-green metric is always a fine idea. Players will need to get from the tee box to the hole as efficiently as possible to avoid all of the landmines throughout the course.
Justin Thomas sits at No. 4 in strokes gained tee-to-green this season and no other player in the tournament field ranks higher than the former Alabama golfer. With a couple of top-five finishes under his belt this season, JT is worth some consideration to win at 10/1. He is currently the tournament favorite according to Draft Kings.
Dustin Johnson is just behind JT with 11/1 odds, and the No. 1 player in the world ranks No. 6 on the tour in strokes gained from tee-to-green. However, DJ has just one top-10 PGA finish in the year. Viktor Hovland is also in the top-10 and has three top-five finishes this season while going off at 22/1.
When looking for a tiebreaker, Par 5 scoring is a good backup metric to consider this weekend. Due to the toughness of the course, players will have to cash in on the four Par 5 holes. Ryan Palmer sits at No. 27 in the world with four top-20 finishes this season. The 44-year-old ranks third in Par 5 scoring.
When looking at both key metrics, no one grades out better than Hovland. The Norwegian is top-10 in both strokes gained tee-to-green and Par 5 scoring. The 23-year-old is one of the best young players on the tour, and at 22/1 we are getting some pretty good value. Lock Hovland in to get his first victory of the season.
Ryan Palmer also hits both metrics and deserves a play this week. At +450 to finish in the top-10, the underrated player deserves a little sprinkle. Russell Henley is off of consecutive top-10 finishes and sits at No. 11 in strokes gained tee-to-green. The ball striker has a hot hand and is worth a play for top-10 at 3/1.
Paul Casey won this tournament in 2018 and 2019. The England native will be getting plenty of attention this week. Going off at 22/1 to win, he is a stay away for us this weekend.