After being rudely interrupted by two events in Texas, the Masters, the exhale at Hilton Head and a pairs shootout in Louisiana, the PGA TOUR makes its way back to Florida. The four weeks there across February and March provided some of the highlights of the season so far, with Major winners Collin Morikawa (WGC-Workday Championship), Bryson DeChambeau (Arnold Palmer Invitational) and Justin Thomas (THE PLAYERS) scooping the first three before Aussie Matt Jones drove off with the Honda Classic.
The Valspar Championship was lost to the COVID-19 pandemic last season so the three-peat bid of Paul Casey was put on hold. The Englishman won the two editions in 2018 and 2019 with -8 and -10 respectively, highlighting the fact that this is a grind week.
It starts the run to the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, the second Major of 2021 following on from this week’s showdown at Innisbrook Resort, the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow and the AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch.
The Copperhead Course
The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor is a testing par 71 measuring in at 7,340 yards. Designed by Larry Packard, it was opened in 1974 and has undergone restorations in 1999 and 2015.
Grass-wise, it’s Tif Bermuda on the smaller-than-average greens and Celebration Bermuda fairways and players have often described it as resembling a course in the Carolinas rather than a typical flat Florida track. That opinion is informed by the plentiful undulations which add another dimension to the tree-lined and often dog-legged fairways. There’s also a tough finish across the ‘Snake Pit’, a three-hole stretch from 16 to 18.
Key skills are driving and approach play. Short-game prowess can be masked to a certain extent.
While some of the visuals don’t shout ‘Florida’, there’s plenty of water in play and the risk of finding it is increased by the often windy conditions. The weather forecast this week shows temperatures in the high 80s although a little cooler on Saturday. It could get gusty on Friday, especially in the afternoon when wind speeds could push 20 MPH. The yellow disc in the sky could be hidden by cloud over the first three days but comes out in full view for Sunday’s closer.
Past Champions at Innisbrook Resort
John Huston was the inaugural champ in 2000 and one thing to note in its relatively brief history is that there have already been three two-time winners. Before Paul Casey, KJ Choi won in 2002 and 2006 while Retief Goosen had an even larger gap between his twin title triumphs, the South African lifting the silverware in 2003 and 2009.
Sean O’Hair (winner in 2008 and a runner-up in 2015) and John Senden (back-to-back seconds in 2007 and 2008 before winning in 2014) have further backed up the view that this is a good place for course horses.
One final link: four Valspar winners can be found on the trophies of both the Sony Open and the John Deere Classic.
Here’s an entirely FREE lineup for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|Player #1||C. Conners||$9,600|
|Player #2||J. Kokrak||$8,700|
|Player #3||C. Hoffman||$8,600|
|Player #4||K. Bradley||$7,900|
|Player #5||C. Howell III||$7,700|
|Player #6||B. Snedeker||$7,300|
Remaining cash $200
Corey Conners ($9,600) The in-form Canadian has hit the 90-mark with four of his last five FPPG tallies and there’s no reason why that hot run should stop here. The quartet of top eights includes T-8 at Augusta National and T-4 at Hilton Head and his one previous start at the Valspar resulted in a solid T-16 in 2018. Strong in Florida (solo third Bay Hill, solo seventh Sawgrass), he can flex his muscles again this week.
Jason Kokrak ($9,400) With the same names populating Valspar leaderboards over the years, course horse Kokrak can feed the trend further. Runner-up in the most recent edition (2019), he also crashed the top 10 in 2015 and 2018 while posting T-14 in 2014. His Florida form is sensational: six top 10s in his last eight appearances in the Sunshine State. No-brainer really.
Charley Hoffman ($8,600) Gave Jordan Spieth a run for his money when runner-up at the Texas Open and backed it up with a top 20 at Hilton Head. A strong driver of the ball, it’s no surprise that he has five top 25s at this place, including T-18 last time. Adding an extra layer of polish is Hoffman’s four straight top 20s in Florida, the latest two coming last month with T-10 at Bay Hill and T-17 at Sawgrass. Looks a perfect candidate at a mid-range price.
Keegan Bradley ($7,700) The former PGA Championship winner likes a tough test when long game trumps short. So no surprises that Florida suits him. Fact check: he’s made 13 of his last 15 cuts in the Sunshine State. Bradley is playing well everywhere right now and returns to Innisbrook on a run of five top 30s in his last six starts, the consistency fueled by impressive Tee-to-Green numbers. Finishing T-4 in last week’s pairs event in Zurich does no harm either.
Charles Howell ($7,700) File him under course horse. Howell played in the inaugural event in 2000 and his last 10 Valspar starts show nine cuts, four top 10s and a further top 15. After an early 2021 wobble he’s won gamers over with T-9 at The PLAYERS, T-18 in the RBC Heritage and T-28 at Corales Puntacana in his last four starts. He ranked 3rd SG: Tee-to-Green at Sawgrass and 12th in that category at Bay Hill so there’s no faking it going on here.
Brandt Snedeker ($7,300) Like Bradley, he also posted T-4 at the Zurich. If that’s bonus material, his course record isn’t. Snedeker has a fourth, and eighth and a 9-for-10 slate at Innisbrook; his one missed cut here came over a decade ago. His good performance in Louisiana last week is given a more rounded appearance by a T-6 in the Texas Open earlier this month so the signs from Sneds are good.
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- One week of our articles for free to test us out and then continued all-access to every sport that we do for a year after that!
- Check out another fully different line up for the Valspar Championship including two sneaky picks at $7,000 and $6,600.
- Different options to prepare for breaking news if and when it happens.
- A couple of good alternative picks to help you build out GPP options based around not one but two CORE lineups.
Here’s A Riskier Lineup For The Valspar Championship
|Player #1||P. Reed||$10,300|
|Player #2||A. Ancer||$9,300|
|Player #3||S. Im||$9,200|
|Player #4||D. Ghim||$7,300|
|Player #5||H. Stenson||$7,000|
|Player #6||C. Seiffert||$6,600|
$300 leftover salary
Patrick Reed ($10,300) Captain America had T-9 (WGC-Workday Championship) and T-22 (PLAYERS) in two of his three recent Florida Swing starts but this is easily his happiest hunting ground in the Sunshine State. He’s a two-time runner-up (2015 and 2018) and also posted T-7 in 2016. Reed further rewarded gamers with T-8 at Augusta National and he’ll relish the presence of DJ and JT in the field this week to get those competitive juices flowing.
Abraham Ancer ($9,300) The Mexican rarely has a bad week. Count back to November’s 2020 Masters and he’s made the top 26 no less than 10 times in 13 starts. The Copperhead Course with its emphasis on strong driving and approach play looks an ideal fit. He started to make the theory become reality on his only previous visit in 2018, shooting 67-69 on the weekend to finish T-16.
Sungjae Im ($9,200) A tough test in Florida is right in Im’s wheelhouse. He won the 2020 Honda Classic with 6-under and that same total was good enough for T-4 on his Valspar debut in 2019. T-8 when defending his Honda crown last month, he overcame a Masters flop with T-13 at Hilton Head (T-4 after 54 holes). Five top eights and a further two top 25s in his last nine Florida events scream ‘pick me’. Vote Sungjae.
Doug Ghim ($7,300) The 25-year-old packs huge potential and his 18th spot for Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green this season suggests this is a good place to flash it. Ghim was third after 54 holes at Sawgrass before a, let’s call it a learning experience, difficult Sunday. The Sony Open correlates well with this event so his fifth place there could be another clue.
Henrik Stenson ($7,000) Risks are needed in a line-up like this and the Swede very much falls into the hit-or-miss category. A bunch of missed cuts at the start of the year suggest the Stenson slump is continuing but he had a solid Masters (T-38) and played some decent golf to finish T-11 with fellow comeback kid Justin Rose in the Zurich last week. Now he gets to play a course where his five-year form from debut through to the most recent staging reads 4-11-7-MC-24. Class is permanent and all that.
Chase Seiffert ($6,600) How about a Florida resident who went to FSU and finished third in the Honda Classic to show he could turn home advantage into something tangible? The man who fits the bill is Seiffert, who is bowling along nicely this season. Four of his last eight starts are top 20s and he’s made the weekend in seven of his last eight starts. It’s his tournament debut but there’s plenty to like at the price.
Other Player Options For The Valspar Championship
• Paul Casey needs little introduction having won this event back-to-back in 2018 and 2019. In superb form at the start of the year but maybe a little flat of late.
• Lucas Glover Solid option however you come at it. Good at the course, strong in Florida and two top 20s in his last three events.
• Russell Henley Third at Honda, T-9 at Hilton Head, good form on similar tracks and owns a T-9 here on penultimate visit.
• Dustin Johnson Hmmm. The case for DJ: he’s DJ and was T-6 here in 2019. The case against: five straight PGA Tour starts without a top 10.
• Justin Thomas Hmmm. The case for JT: he’s JT, won at Sawgrass and has T-10 and T-18 here in three starts. The case against: he went from potential winner to finish T-21 at Augusta. Is that out of his system?
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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