The Valspar Championship Preview7 min read
The Florida swing concludes this week with the Valspar Championship as the players tackle the challenging Copperhead course.
World number one Dustin Johnson makes a rare start in Tampa and the favourite will look to make the cut for the first time at Innisbrook Resort.
The 7,340 yard par 71 is unusual for having five par threes and the ‘Snake Pit’ provides a venomous test for the field, on the closing three holes, which will have a major say in the eventual winner this weekend.
Brandt Snedeker comes into this week with plenty of momentum after a strong showing at the Players Championship. The American led the field for greens in regulation on his way to a tie for fifth place – his best finish of the year. Snedeker has reunited with former coach Todd Anderson and this decision already seems to have paid off.
The nine-time PGA Tour winner has some encouraging form at Copperhead. Snedeker went into the final round last year only one shot off the lead before a poor Sunday derailed his hopes. The 38-year-old was fourth in 2011 and eighth in 2008 so has enough course form in the book. Snedeker looks well placed to build on his performance at last week and is worth support at 33/1 each way.
Ryan Moore has plenty of form at the tight tree-lined course and is fancied to get into contention again. Moore finished third here three years ago and was also fifth in 2015 so there is no doubt Copperhead fits his eye. It is a course where power is not an essential attribute and five-time PGA Tour winner Moore’s steady game is a better fit.
Moore got off to a slow start to this season but has steadily improved his form and comes in off three top-35 finishes. The American’s hole in one at the 17th at Sawgrass last week was the highlight on his way to an encouraging 20th place. A return to a course where he has enjoyed recent success should inspire him to threaten the places at 50/1 each way.
Jim Furyk rolled back the years with a stunning performance at Sawgrass which suggests he is still capable of adding to his 17 PGA Tour victories. The 48-year-old looked close to his best last weekend as he finished runner-up behind winner Rory McIlroy. It was not a one off though, as he earned a top ten finish at the Honda Classic on his previous start.
Furyk has fond memories of Copperhead after landing the title at the course in 2010. The tight layout is well suited to his accurate game and Furyk also finished second in 2012 and seventh in 2013 and last season. If Furyk is to get his hands on another trophy, this type of course looks most likely where power holds little advantage. The 2018 Ryder Cup captain can contend for the second week in a row at 33/1 each way.
Kevin Kisner has been threatening a big result in recent weeks and looks close to challenging for a third PGA Tour title. The American has not missed a cut this year and has posted five consecutive top-30 finishes. Two opening rounds of 68 had Kisner in contention at Sawgrass last week but he slipped back at the weekend for a tie for 22nd.
Kisner typically plays well at this time of the year and is most comfortable putting on Bermuda greens. He has yet to make an impression at Copperhead although there is no obvious reason for this. He is course proven in Florida, finishing second at the Players Championship in 2015 and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2017, so it would be no surprise if he followed this up in Tampa at 40/1 each way.
Brian Harman has made a quiet start to the season but burst into life with an impressive performance last week at Sawgrass. A six-under-par opening round spearheaded his challenge as he finished in a tie for eighth. This confidence booster, at a significant stage in the year, could spark a big run of results from the left-hander.
Harman has won twice on the PGA Tour and finished second at the 2017 US Open so has the ability to mix it with the best. The 32-year-old, who was 14th at Copperhead in 2013, is capable of stringing results together as he did at the start of last season with five successive top tens. Harman looks generously priced at 100/1 and could easily outrun those odds.
Brandt Snedeker Each Way
Ryan Moore Each Way
Jim Furyk Each Way
Kevin Kisner Each Way
Brian Harman Each Way