DRAFT PGA Recommended Plays: Valspar Championship
The PGA Tour will head back to Florida this week for the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Copperhead Golf Course in Palm Harbor, Florida. This tournament is usually passed over by a lot of the big names, but the field this year is loaded with major (and Olympic) winners like Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. This course will be similar in nature to The Honda Classic a few weeks ago in the sense that both feature strong winds, Bermuda grass, and an emphasis on iron-play.
Here are some of the golfers that I will be targeting on DRAFT this week at Copperhead.
I don’t typically employ the narrative of: “He’s due for a win” because it’s usually lazy analysis, but I am going to fire it up this week. Spieth has made it very well known that he wants a victory before he heads to Augusta National in about a month, and Copperhead has treated him well in the past. I also love the fact that he’s paired up with Tiger Woods for the first two rounds. Spieth has a knack for performing on the big stage and this is the biggest possible stage that he could be placed on for the beginning of this tournament. Plus, you are going to feel like a grade-A buffoon if you don’t select Spieth with your first-round selection and he ends up picking up his second victory at the Valspar.
You might be able to find Rose in the third round of some head-to-head drafts, which is a tremendous value for a player of this caliber. He has five top-20 finishes in eight appearances at this course, mainly due to his elite ball-striking capabilities.
A model of consistency at Copperhead, Stenson has finished 11th or better at this tournament in his three appearances since 2015.
You will likely be able to snag Kuchar at a discount thanks to his dreadful putting performance last week in Mexico. But don’t let the poor numbers fool you. Putting statistics are typically not transitive or applicable on a week-to-week basis because it’s such a high-variance aspect of the sport. Kuchar has finished 22nd or better in seven of his 10 visits here and rarely struggles in consecutive weeks.
Defending champions typically don’t fare well in their return trip to Copperhead, but Hadwin’s recent form is too strong to dismiss. He has back-to-back top-10 finishes in recent weeks and will obviously have a tremendous amount of confidence navigating this course after winning on it in 2017.
A strong ball-striker, Schwartzel has fared well in this tournament in the past, posting a WIN in 2016 and a T-6 last year. He comes with some risk, however, as he hasn’t been in the best of form as of late. But given his past, he’s worthy of a late-round flier.