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Valspar Championship: Prediction, tips and odds

After a 10/3 winner landed on Hideki Matsuyama finishing in the top 10 at THE PLAYERS Championship last week, the PGA TOUR's Mike Glasscott has four more picks to follow for the Valspar Championship.

Valspar Championship Tips

To Win – Sam Burns (12/1) & Christiaan Bezuidenhout (45/1)
Top 10 – Brice Garnett (7/1)
Top 20 – Matt NeSmith (15/4)

PGA TOUR

Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort & Spa course guide

The PGA TOUR season does not allow many breaths to be taken from January through August. The Palm Harbor “resort” layout is one in name only. Like its cousin at PGA National, the Copperhead Course will not provide much relief, even after THE PLAYERS Championship.

The fourth and final stop in the Sunshine State, the Valspar Championship stretches to 7,340 yards and plays to Par 71. The classic design, originally laid out by Larry Packard in 1971 and renovated in 2016, ranks annually among the best courses on TOUR by the rank and file.

Featuring five par-3 holes and four par-5 holes, the Copperhead Course also features the “Snake Pit”. Beginning at Hole No. 16 and ending at Hole No. 18, the three-hole stretch is one of the most difficult to navigate on TOUR.

Packard’s challenge features oak tree-lined fairways, elevation changes, and perched greens. Unlike TPC Sawgrass, the Copperhead Course sits right in front of the field of 156 players.

If the challenge last week was finding the fairways, Innisbrook features fewer acres of landing area off the tee than TPC Sawgrass. The classic layout requires getting it close in regulation, but scrambling and putting provide a chance to survive.

The pure Poa Trivialis greens allow players to lag it close or hole out but will not run at speeds seen at major championships. Getting up and down will save shots this week.

Scoring isn’t the focus this week. In 16 events since 2007, nine times the event has ranked in the top 10 most difficult on TOUR.

The main challenge this week is getting it close from the sprinkler line or the overseeded ryegrass. The four Par-5 holes would suggest scoring chances but that is not the case. Surviving the “Snake Pit” stretch and any weather arriving will provide a solid foundation to contend.

Valspar Championship preview

The event made its debut in the fall of 2000. Since 2007, March has hosted every event except the 2021 edition (May).

One of the rare instances on TOUR, the Copperhead Course, even with a renovation following the 2015 edition, has played to Par-71 and 7,340 yards since 2012.

The field of 156 players includes 16 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Highlighted by Taylor Moore, seven previous winners are entered.

The last eight champions needed five or fewer attempts to win for the first time.

Gary Woodland, the 2011 champion, is the only winner since the move to March to win on debut.

The only event played outside of March was the 2021 edition. Won by Sam Burns on 17 under, the event returned to March 2022 and was won by… Sam Burns on 17 under.

The last five events have produced only three champions. Sam Burns and Paul Casey both won in back-to-back seasons before Moore’s victory last year.

Moore became the third first-time winner from the last four champions to lift the trophy.

The course record, last set by Matt NeSmith with 61 in Round 2 in 2022, was posted first by Padraig Harrington in 2012.

The field will be cut to the top 65 and ties after two rounds.

On the line is a purse of $8.4 million, with the winner taking home $1.512 million, collecting 500 FedExCup points, and an invitation to the Masters in three weeks.

Top of the Board  

Xander Schauffele (15/2): Making birdies, holing putts, and racking up top-10 finishes, the Californian is right on schedule. Despite adding swing changes, he’s been in the fight just about every time he’s teed it up this season. Making his second start in Palm Harbor, the only question lingering this week is whether he has enough gas in the tank for four more rounds at the top of the leaderboard.

Sam Burns (12/1): The safest selection on the board, the two-time winner extended his run of top-10 paydays to three straight years with solo sixth last year. Flashing 65 in Round 3 at TPC Sawgrass shows me he’s ready for another big week at Valspar.

Justin Thomas (14/1): Twice this year, he was at the top of my team sheet. Twice, he missed the cut in both events. One of the course horses this week, only Burns has a better scoring average. Adding to a streak of T13 or better over the last three seasons should be about right.

Jordan Spieth (18/1): The 2015 champ also missed the weekend at THE PLAYERS Championship and should be rested and ready. Returning to the event in 2023 for the first time since missing the cut in 2018, the Texan played in the final group and cashed T3 for his third top-10 payday in six tries.

Brian Harman (20/1): Turning the corner after his victory at Royal Liverpool last summer, he’s constantly on my radar. Posting 19-under over the final 54 holes last week, the Georgia native missed a playoff by a shot. Asking him to grind tee-to-green again this week won’t bother him.

Sungjae Im (25/1): After opening the season with T5 at The Sentry, the Korean star has struggled to keep up the pace. Returning to Palm Harbor for the first time since T29 in 2021, his best finish was T4 in 2019.

Tony Finau (25/1): Smashing it tee-to-green, it’s fascinating to remember he only has one top-10 payday this season. Skipping the Signature Event at Bay Hill, he returned to action with T45 at TPC Sawgrass. I’m not sure what’s going on here, so I’ll pass.

Cameron Young (28/1): Making his tournament debut, the big hitter is still looking for his first TOUR victory. The layout makes sense for the Wake Forest grad. Putting isn’t difficult, but fantastic ball striking will go a long way. This event has not required years of experience to figure out. Interesting outsider.

Players to consider for Top 10, Top 20, or Top 40 action:

Nick Taylor (35/1): The Canadian has shown zero signs of letting up since his victory at TPC Scottsdale last month. Steady throughout the bag, he cashed T12 at Bay Hill and T26 last week.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout (45/1): Missing two cuts this season on 2 under and 1 under, respectively, the South African has posted five T28 or better finishes in eight tries. Cashing T13 last week, he also picked up T24 at a difficult Riviera Country Club.

Victor Perez (90/1): The Frenchman ran T3 in Puerto Rico before taking last week off. Not qualifying for THE PLAYERS Championship, the alternate did not get it, but he also did not burn any emotion or calories watching on television. Cashing T45 on debut last season, nothing will be new this time.

Sam Ryder (90/1): Posting 27 birdies last week, the Florida native set the THE PLAYERS Championship record. Making his sixth start, he will look to chase down last year’s T19 result. Cashing T21 and T16 in the last two events in the Sunshine State, he should be ready for another top payday.

Matt NeSmith (110/1): Setting the course record and cashing T3 in 2022, the South Carolina native missed out last year. Another top-25 finish this season will make it three-from-three at Innisbrook.

Brice Garnett (250/1): The winner two weeks ago in Puerto Rico cashed for the second consecutive week with T35 at TPC Sawgrass. All eight of his rounds are par or better. Lovely hot streak.

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