Lefty finally found himself back on the winner’s circle in Mexico and is playing some EXCELLENT golf right now. Its’s a Ryder Cup year so it all makes sense. After a tournament in Mexico requiring calculators for the caddies to reduce the yardage by 15%, we are back to the Florida swing. The weather is not looking good for the final round on Sunday and we are still going to see some wind on Thursday. There will be a front moving through the Tampa region mid day Sunday so we will have to monitor this situation. I would not be surprised to see a Monday finish if the forecast holds true and we see 35+ MPH wind gusts. Let’s get into the course and past champions.
- 2017: Adam Hadwin -14
- 2016: Charl Schwartzl -7
- 2015: Jordan Spieth -10
- 2014: John Senden -7
- 2013: Kevin Streelman -10
Innisbrook Resort at Copperhead Course – 7,340 yards / Par 71
The Valspar Championship is played at Innisbrook Resort at the Copperhead course. It is a Par 71 that plays at 7,340 yards and was the 7th hardest course on tour last year. The course went through a complete restoration in 2015. There were bunkers added and fairways reconstructed for better drainage. There are 63 bunkers and 8 hazards throughout the course. Holes 16-18 finish up the round with players venturing through the “Snake Pit,” similar to the “Bear Trap” we just saw at the Honda Classic.
There are 5 Par 3’s on Copperhead and only one of them is under 200 yards. Of these 5 Par 3’s, the only hole to average less than par is the “short” 4th hole. With this in mind we are going to focus on Greens in Regulation (GIR) from 200+ yards and proximity from 200-225.
The Par 4’s throughout the Florida swing do not make as many birdie opportunities as we have been seeing in the tournaments leading up to the Sunshine state (i.e. Hawaii, California and TPC of Scottsdale). With tougher Par 4 scoring we are not going to weight driving distance as heavy this week. It will be more crucial to focus on GIR, Strokes Gained (SG), and tee to green.
The Par 5’s are where there will be birdie opportunities this week. They are very long holes so most players will be hitting the green in 3 shots. While there will be a select few of players that can reach the green in two because of their distance off the tee, I would reserve those players for tournament lineups only and avoid them in cash.
The greens are your typical Bermuda grass and we can target the bermuda specialists. The greens run 11 – 12 on the stimpmeter and are on the smaller side.
When selecting the player pool for Valspar, there are a few key statistics that we will be relying on. Historically this course has favored the golfers with the strongest accuracy/precision so we will be putting little weight on bomber’s. Valspar requires players to take a strategic approach in their shots to give them the best angle at the green. This will give an advantage to players that have a strong Strokes Gained: Tee to Green ranking.
Course History will be important in this tournament. As mentioned earlier, giving yourself a favorable line at the green will be very important. This will favor the players with a strong course history as they will be able to benefit from the advantageous approach angles.
Key Stats Ranked
- SG: T2G
- SG: Approach
- SG: Ball Striking
I do not bring good news in the way of weather this week. Thursday looks to be cool and windy, and Sunday could turn out to be absolute carnage with 35+ MPH gusts. There will be a front moving through the Tampa area on Sunday, and this could just cause havoc out on the course for the final day of the tournament. Below I have posted the wind forecast for Wed/Thur, Fri/Sat and Sun/Mon if this tournament goes into Monday.