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  • Writer's pictureNate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Out of the Rough: Valspar Championship (2024)


We get a break from the pure dominance of Scottie Scheffler as he won’t be teeing it up this week at the Valspar Championship.


This week marks the final week of a month spent in Florida as the Tour turns its attention to Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Florida.


With the discontinuation of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play that annually followed this event, we’ll see one of the strongest fields in some time at the Valspar Championship.


The location of the course helps with the increased interest and stronger field as Palm Harbor is just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Ponte Vedra Beach.


The Field

As previously mentioned, this week’s field for the Valspar Championship is arguably the best we may have ever seen at this event.


There are ten golfers within the top 30 of the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) teeing it up this week. 


Of those top 30 golfers are two within the top ten of the OWGR as Xander Schauffele and Brian Harman headline the event.


The other names within the top 30 of the OWGR and playing this week are Sam Burns, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau, Cameron Young, Sungjae Im, Nick Taylor & Keegan Bradley.


Other notable names teeing it up this week include Min Woo Lee, Eric Cole, Kieth Mitchell, Beau Hossler, Adam Hadwin and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.


Taylor Moore is the defending champion as he held off Adam Schenk by a stroke a season ago. He’ll be back this week to defend his title.


Burns won this event in back-to-back years, claiming victory in 2021 and 2022 and will look to become the first three time winner of the Valspar Championship.


Other former winners in this week’s field include Hadwin (2017,) Spieth (2015,) Kevin Streelman (2013,) Luke Donald (2012) and Gary Woodland (2011.) 


The Course

Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course is yet another demanding course from tee-to-green that will test the field. It requires patience and an all-around-game to compete here.


The course is often deemed a hidden gem on the Florida swing that is oftentimes overshadowed by Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass.


It plays as a par 71 at 7,340 yards.


It’ll require a total ball-striking and short game to compete this week and the greens are a pure Bermuda.


The course features a multitude of tight doglegs that will force players to lay-up off the tee. The fairways too are tree lined.


Players are forced to work the ball in both directions at Copperhead. It’s a shot-maker’s course with significant elevation changes. This allows for both bombers and short plotters off the tee to have success alike.


In all, it’s one of the most challenging courses on Tour to gain strokes off the tee. This is due to the narrow fairways that too are hard to hold. Those who choose to layup with less than a driver too will find it difficult to hit these fairways.


Annually, the course yields a below average ranking in both driving accuracy and driving distance.


Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course too features some of the most challenging par-threes on the entire Tour.


The course is known for its final three holes known as the 'Snake Pit.'


It includes the 460 yard par four 16th known as 'Moccasin,' the 215 yard par three Hole 17 known as 'Rattler' and the 445 yard par four Hole 18 known as 'Copperhead.'


This final stretch of holes is guarded by a large bronze snake statue to welcome golfers to its daunting finish.


The 'Snake Pit' annually plays over par for each of the three holes and offers plenty of dramatics down the stretch. In other words, the event can be won or lost here.


Long iron and Bermuda putting specialists thrive here.


We’ve seen back-to-back winners twice in the past six years at this event in Burns and Casey. This goes to show that course history is proven repeatable.


The Weather

As of the time of writing this, just Friday calls for a chance of precipitation at 70-percent. The rest of the week looks clear. Temperatures will range from 81-degrees on Thursday to 75-degrees come Sunday. Winds will certainly be a factor as they are projected at 18 miles-per-hour on Friday with the rain and 13 miles-per-hour to ten miles-per-hour respectively on Saturday and Sunday. Thursday is set to be the best day of the week. 


Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)

  • Scrambling

  • Par Five Average Scoring

  • Strokes Gained: Putting on Bermuda (SG: PUTT Bermuda)

  • Driving Accuracy

  • Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG: TTG)

  • Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)

  • Proximity to the Hole from 175-plus Yards

  • Par Three Average Scoring

  • Bogey Avoidance

  • Ball Striking


DFS Suggestions

$10,000+

I’m flipping the script a bit this week. I typically play one golfer in this price range and two in the rest. However, with the way pricing looks on DraftKings this week, I’m playing two golfers in this price range and just one in the $9,000-$9,900 price range. My first play here is Xander Schauffele ($11,200.) As previously talked about numerous times, a win is coming for Scahuffele. He squandered away a perfect chance to claim THE PLAYERS Championship a week ago and if he is to tee it up this week (still a chance he withdraws,) he’ll be hungrier than ever. He hasn’t won on Tour since the Genesis Scottish Open in 2022 and a victory has eluded him ever since. So far this season, outside of a T2nd last week, he has also placed T4th at The Genesis, T9th at the Farmers Insurance Open, T3rd at The American Express and T10th at The Sentry. He is also second on Tour in both SG: TTG and bogey avoidance, 13th in all three of SG: ATG, par three average scoring and ball striking, 15th in SG: APP, 17th in both scrambling and par five average scoring, 37th in SG: PUTT Bermuda and 100th in driving accuracy. If there is a knock to his game it's a 147th placement in proximity to the hole from 175-plus yards. He has played here just once before, placing T12th in 2022. I know you’re spending up on him this week, but a win is coming. It may just be this week. Also consider Sam Burns ($10,900) who is looking to become the first three time winner of this event. Burns had a stretch of events between late January and mid-February where he placed T6th at The American Express, tenth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, T3rd at the WM Phoenix Open and T10th at The Genesis. He is currently eighth on Tour in par five average scoring, ninth in bogey avoidance, 18th in proximity to the hole from 175-plus yards, 21st in par three average scoring, 22nd in both scrambling and SG: PUTT Bermuda, 27th in ball striking, 50th in SG: TTG, 62nd in SG: APP and 79th in driving accuracy. The knock to his game comes around the greens as he ranks 141st in SG: ATG. Burns won this event in back-to-back years in 2021 and 2022. He also placed sixth here a season ago and T12th in 2018. I’m playing three units on him at +1200. I wouldn’t jump on Burns beyond this number. The value is there with this field and course history but anything beyond +1200 is too slim.


$9,000-$9,900

As previously mentioned, I have just one play in this price range and that is Brian Harman ($9,800.) Harman is fresh off a T2nd at last week’s THE PLAYERS Championship. He also placed T12th the week prior at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He doesn’t have much of a proven track record here either. He’s played this event nine times in his career, missing the cut in six of those events, including a year ago. He did place T5th in 2022 however. Harman is currently 41st in Tour in SG: TTG, 43rd in bogey avoidance, 44th in par three average scoring, 46th in all three of SG: APP, scrambling and par five average scoring, 47th in SG: ATG, 48th in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 51st in driving accuracy and 102nd in ball striking. His downfall comes with the long irons as he is 148th in proximity to the hole from 175-plus yards.


$8,000-$8,900

I’m often vocal about how much I dislike this price range on any given week. That is not the case this week as I have three suggestions to make up for just one in the $9,000-$9,900 price range. The first suggestion actually is my overall favorite per my model this week in Doug Ghim ($8,400.) Ghim is currently first on Tour in par five average scoring, 11th in both SG: TTG and bogey avoidance, 12th in driving accuracy, 13th in SG: APP, 15th in both scrambling and ball striking, 30th in proximity to the hole from 175-plus yards, 41st in SG: ATG, 76th in par three average scoring and 104th in SG: PUTT Bermuda. Ghim gained 0.761 strokes putting per round last week at THE PLAYERS and 1.187 per round at the Cognizant Classic. If he keeps that putter rolling he could come out on top this week. Ghim is also in some insane form. In his last five events he’s gone T16th at THE PLAYERS, T16th at the Cognizant Classic, T8th at the Mexico Open, T12th at the WM Phoenix Open and T13th at the Farmers Insurance Open. He placed T27th here a season ago. I’m playing a unit on him at +8000. As of the time of writing this, he’s down to +4500. I’m honestly still fine with that number with how he matches up. Anything beyond that though, I’d steer away. Also consider Aaron Rai ($8,500.) Rai is currently first on Tour in driving accuracy, ninth in ball striking, 13th in par three average scoring, 22nd in SG: TTG, 23rd in SG: APP, 28th in proximity to the hole from 175-plus yards, 58th in bogey avoidance, 90th in scrambling, 100th in SG: ATG and 102nd in par five average scoring. His downfall of course comes on the greens as he ranks 145th in SG: PUTT Bermuda. He’s one of those players that if he can get close to even on the greens, he has a chance. He’s also in some decent form, placing in the top 25 in two-of-his-last-three events. He’ll be making his debut at this course and event this week. I’m playing a unit on him at +6000 and would be fine playing him down to +5500. Also consider Keith Mitchell ($8,900.) Mitchell is currently second on Tour in ball striking, fourth in proximity to the hole from 175-plus yards, 12th in SG: TTG, 33rd in SG: APP, 37th in bogey avoidance, 44th in par three average scoring, 65th in driving accuracy and 103rd in SG: ATG. His downfalls come with a 130th placement in both scrambling and SG: PUTT Bermuda. Mitchell did gain 0.258 strokes per round putting at the Cognizant and 0.371 per round at the WM Phoenix Open. If he can do that this week, he has a real chance of victory. He made the cut last week at THE PLAYERS but that was about it. Before that he placed T9th at the Cognizant Classic, T19th at the Mexico Open, T17th at the WM Phoenix Open and T9th at The American Express. Mitchell has played this event just twice, making the cut both times and placing T11th in 2017. I’m playing a unit on him at +4000 and wouldn’t go below that number.


$7,000-$7,900

My first play in this price range is Billy Horschel ($7,400.) He’s been in some mixed form to start this season. He missed the cut in his last outing at THE PLAYERS but prior to that placed T9th at the Cognizant Classic. He also has no proven track record here, last playing in 2018 where he missed the cut. What he does do is match up statistically this week however. He’s currently second on Tour in proximity to the hole from 175-plus yards, fifth in par three average scoring, sixth in ball striking, 14th in bogey avoidance, 20th in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 29th in driving accuracy, 62nd in SG: TTG, 76th in scrambling, 78th in SG: APP, 86th in par five average scoring and 103rd in SG: ATG. A very well rounded game for this golf course. I’m also playing a unit on him at +7000. At the time of writing this, he sits at +10000. There’s a lot of value there. Also consider Ryo Hisatsune ($7,000.) Hisatsune is in my dog house after missing the cut at THE PLAYERS and preventing a very good DFS lineup that profited without a six-for-six. However, it was a double-bogey on the 18th on Thursday that had him miss the cut by a stroke. He missed the cut last week but placed T18th the week prior at the Puerto Rico Open. He also placed T11th earlier this year at The American Express. He’s also currently third on Tour in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 22nd in SG: ATG, 49th in all three of SG: APP, driving accuracy and ball striking, 56th in bogey avoidance, 60th in par five average scoring, 67th in SG: TTG, 76th in par three average scoring and 116th in scrambling. His downfall comes with a 143rd placement in proximity to the hole from 175-plus yards. He’ll be making his debut here this week.


$6,900-

One of my overall favorite plays this week is Andrew Novak ($6,700.) He’s currently sixth on Tour in SG: ATG, 14th in scrambling, 15th in SG: TTG, 22nd in SG: APP, 28th in par five average scoring, 30th in proximity to the hole from 175-plus yards, 41st in ball striking, 50th in bogey avoidance, 64th in par three average scoring and 88th in driving accuracy. His downfall comes in the form of a 140th placement in SG: PUTT Bermuda. However, he gained 0.513 strokes per round putting at the Cognizant Classic and 0.799 strokes per round at the WM Phoenix Open. He missed the cut in his last outing at THE PLAYERS but prior to that put together a stretch of three consecutive top ten finishes. He placed T9th at the Cognizant, T8th at the Mexico Open and T8th at the WM Phoenix Open. Novak has played this event the last two years, placing T27th here a season ago. I’m playing a unit on him at +15000. At the time of writing this, Novak is down to +12000 and I’d play him down to +10000. Also consider Greyson Sigg ($6,300.) Sigg is currently second on Tour in par three average scoring, eighth in bogey avoidance, 16th in driving accuracy, 19th in SG: APP, 20th in scrambling, 37th in SG: TTG, 39th in proximity to the hole from 175-plus, 42nd in ball striking, 94th in SG: ATG, 121st in SG: PUTT Bermuda and 140th in par five average scoring. Sigg has made the cut in four-of-seven events on the season, highlighted by a T17th at The American Express and a T19th at the Mexico Open. Sigg has also played here the last two seasons where he made the cut both times.


Betting Card

  • Sam Burns (+1200) - 3u

  • Keith Mitchell (+4000) - 1u

  • Aaron Rai (+6000) - 1u

  • Billy Horschel (+7000) - 1u

  • Doug Ghim (+8000) - 1u

  • Andrew Novak (+15000) - 1u

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