2014 Valspar Championship Betting Preview

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Harris English and Jordan Spieth are the favourites this week in a field full of decorated champions and major winners, as the PGA Tour stops in Palm Harbour for the 2014 Valspar Championship.

2014 Valspar Championship Fact Sheet

  • Course: Copperhead Course at Innisbrook
  • Location: Palm Harbour, Florida
  • Yardage: 7,340 yards, par 71
  • Defending Champion: Kevin Streelman
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Harris English, Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald and Justin Rose

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (NBC)
  • Sunday – 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (NBC)

Key Storyline(s) This Week

  • You’ll be forgiven if you don’t recognize the name of the tournament this week, as the event has gone through a series of name changes since 2000. We’re on our seventh different title sponsor in Valspar, who signed a four-year deal back in September, taking over for Everbank who lasted just a single year.
  • This event usually struggles to bring out the best players, and while that really hasn’t changed much in 2013, the field isn’t too bad with Spieth, Kuchar, Rose and Donald filling out the “star” portion along with emerging talents like English, Graham DeLaet and Russell Knox.
  • Just about everyone I see online and on the television broadcasts are in love with Harris English, and rightfully so. English is one of the best ball strikers on the PGA Tour and as it stands right now, he’s on the American Ryder Cup team based on points, but even if he falls out of that, I’d be surprised if he’s not at Gleneagles come September. It’s crazy to think though that we’re already seeing him as the consensus tournament favourite.
  • Some interesting sponsors exemptions this week with Americans Peter Uihlein and Brooks Koepka from the European Tour along with reigning NCAA champ Max Homa, Darren Clarke and John Daly.

Innisbrook

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Have enough of the Bear Trap and the Blue Monster? Well, get ready for the Snake Pit! Stupid naming conventions aside, I’ve always thought that the Copperhead course was one of the more underrated on the schedule, and Paul Azinger said at one point that he thought it was the best course on the PGA Tour. The players don’t usually go too low here, as the winning score has only been lower than 13-under par once in the last nine years. The focus as always will be on the three hole closing stretch, known as the Snake Pit.

Par-4 16th – 475 yards – 4.26 stroke average in 2013 – #1 handicap

16th flyober

God, that just looks intimidating, doesn’t it? Obviously avoid the water from the tee, but that approach looks brutal trying to go between the trees and attempting to navigate those bunkers with a narrow chute.

Par-3 17th – 215 yards – 3.17 stroke average in 2013 – #4 handicap

17th flyover

It doesn’t look like much from the tee, but there’s pretty much no room for error with those bunkers surrounding the green.

Par-4 18th – 445 yards – 4.21 stroke average in 2013 – #3 handicap

18th flyover

Talk about a narrow opening tee shot with little room for error. Expect more than a few players to land in those bunkers on the left from the tee, but the rough here is no picnic. The toughest part about the hole is the green, which doesn’t hold much of anything.

Thanks to Golf Channel for the flyovers.

Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Harris English: Want to know why he’s listed as the consensus favourite? He’s finished no worse than 16th in eight of his last ten starts, which include six top-10’s and a win. Combine that with a T7 here last year after a final round 69, and it makes sense.
  • Jordan Spieth: Spieth also finished with a T7 last year, and if you’ve been following the PGA Tour closely, you know what kind of rise Spieth has seen since that T7. His big problem right now appears to be his ability to continue strong play on the weekend, but I wouldn’t read too much into that. It won’t be long until we see him win again on the PGA Tour.
  • Matt Kuchar: I’ve often referred to Matt Kuchar as the human ATM machine, and this tournament along with his recent form are perfect examples of what I’m referring to. In six appearances at Innisbrook, he’s racked up five top-20 finishes and one missed cut, while seven of his last eight starts have seen Kuchar finish no worse than a tie for 13th.
  • Luke Donald: The former world number one hasn’t been playing like one of the best players in the world over the last little while, but things are getting better for him. His tie for 25th last week looks a lot better when you consider that it happened with an 82 in that hurricane-esque weather on Friday at Doral, and that came off of a T8 at the Honda. Former winner of the event with a great record here.
  • Justin Rose: Rose has been solid here from the very beginning. He’s 7/7 in made cuts, and also hasn’t finished outside the top-30 in any of those appearances, but I’m still a little concerned about his lack of reps coming off of the shoulder problem that caused him to miss some time a few weeks ago. He’s going to be fine in a few weeks, but for now, I’m staying away.

Suggested Plays

Luke Donald (Best Odds 22-1 at bwin)

Not a whole lot to say about Donald here. It’s been nearly two years since his last win on the PGA or European Tour, and he’s far too good to go that long without a victory. It’s time.

Jason Dufner (Best Odds 28-1 at Stan James)

When Dufner was paired with Patrick Reed on Sunday at Doral, I thought he was going to pull it out but he fired a 76 and never really seemed like he had it all together. He’s been pretty good at Innisbrook in his career, and at this price, I’ll take him along with Donald as my two potential winners.

Gary Woodland (Best Odds 40-1 at BetVictor)

Woodland’s first PGA Tour win came here in 2011, and I think everyone is shocked that he’s only picked up one win since. I don’t think he wins this week, but he’s playing decent enough to make me think that he gets into contention.

Matteo Manassero (Best Odds 170-1 at Betfair)

Those of you who read these pieces regularly know that I’m a big fan of Manassero. Unfortunately, he was one of those that got smacked around by Doral last week, but this price is a little ridiculous for me. In his lone appearance at the event back in 2011, he finished tied for 20th with rounds of 68-68-72-70. He’s a much better player than he was three years ago, and I think there’s a good chance that he gets into top-5 territory this week.

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