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Home / Articles / Valspar Championship Preview and Picks

Valspar Championship Preview and Picks

By: Jimmy Boyd
Date: Mar 10, 2015
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For the first time since the 2012 PGA Championship, all top 50 players in the world were in attendance last week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and Dustin Johnson pulled off the victory. The tour now heads to the Westin Innisbrook-Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Florida for the Valspar Championship, formerly known as the Tampa Bay Championship, and the Transitions Championship before that. The field strength goes down this week coming off a WGC event but there are plenty of big names.

After ranking the fourth hardest par 71 on tour four years ago (out of 11), Copperhead ranked as the fifth easiest on tour three years ago but in 2013, it was ranked as the hardest par 71 on tour. Last year, it finished +1.43 to par, the second highest average since 2007. But as evidenced three years ago, it can be tamed as long as mistakes are kept at a minimum. Keeping the ball in the fairway is a must as the layout is tight so players that are wayward off the tee will be penalized. Driving distance is not essential like last week.

This week, five top ten players in the world are in the field, as well as 11 of the top 30 so we have a healthy field and a lot of experience on top of that. Of the 141 players in the field, only three have played here and made the cut over the last five years, Jim Furyk, Justin Leonard and Jason Dufner. Furyk has the best finishing scores of them all as he has an 8.6 average finish in the five years compared to a 20.2 average for Dufner and 25.4 for Leonard.

John Senden is the defending champion but winning again is unlikely based on history and the fact he is off to a tough start this season. Not only has the tournament never produced a back-to-back champion, just three of 14 defending titleholders have finished in the top 10 a year later. It is also interesting to note that six of the last nine winners were 35 years of age or older, including Senden last year, which shows experience plays a big role in finding success here.

Former No. 1 player in the world Luke Donald (+2,800) has fallen on some hard times as he has not produced a PGA Tour win since 2012 but that victory took place right here. He is playing better after a tough start to this season as a T49 last week was preceded by a T7 at the Honda Classic. Besides his win in 2012, he finished T6 in 2010, T4 in 2013 and T4 last year. He did not make the start in 2011.

Brandt Snedeker (+3,300) already has one win this season and a bunch of other strong finishes in what looks like it is going to be a big bounceback season. His win at Pebble Beach came after a T19 at the Farmers and last week, he finished T17 at Doral setting him up with a similar scenario. While he struggled here last year, it was due to injury and he has played well including a solo fourth in 2011.

We are taking another shot with Justin Rose (+3,500) who is getting solid odds for being No. 9 in the world. He has yet to put together a strong start in 2015 as he has two missed cuts and a 55th last week at Doral but he didn't play horrible last week until Sunday. This could be the place he rights the ship for four rounds as he has made the weekend here in his last four starts including a T5 and a T8.

Kevin Na (+5,500) has quietly put together a decent season as he is ranked 35th in the FedEx Cup Standings and has risen to 27th in the world following a strong T9 finish last week at Doral. He has never missed the cut at Innisbrook in five career starts which includes a T8 in 2009 and a solo second last year. His only career win came in 2011 but with three second place finishes the last two years, he is ready.

As mentioned, Jason Dufner (+6,600) is one of three players in the field to have survived the cut at Innisbrook each of the last five years. His three best finishes have come the last three years including a T14 last year. He opened 2015 with two missed cuts but has been in better form with a T17 at the Honda Classic and a T49 last week no thanks to an opening 79 but he played the last three days at even par.

Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Valspar Championship - All for 1 Unit

Luke Donald (+2,800)
Brandt Snedeker (+3,300)
Justin Rose (+3,500)
Kevin Na (+5,500)
Jason Dufner (+6,600)

2015 Record to date after 8 events: +46.5 Units

Hyundai Tournament of Champions -5 Units
Humana Challenge +24 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units
Farmers Insurance Open +8.5 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am +18 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship +16 Units

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