Onto the Snake Pit, the Copperhead course and the Valspar Championship.
A great venue at the Innisbrook Resort, the Copperhead course is one of the more underrated courses on the PGA Tour. Having spent time on the course, I can attest–it’s a great venue.
But isn’t Valspar the perfect sponsor for this event? I mean, the name itself sounds like a snake bite, doesn’t it? Perfect for the course’s three hole stretch called “The Snake Pit.” Valspar…Valllsssssspar. It sounds like a vicious copperhead. But don’t worry, the folks at Valspar just sell paint. Quite non-intimidating, indeed.
Last Year’s Valspar Top-10
This was last year, too.
Full 2016 Field at the Valspar Championship
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) March 7, 2016
Last Week’s 2016 WGC-Cadillac Doral Picks
Sergio Garcia (Contender) T11
Jordan Spieth (Contender) T17
Dustin Johnson (Contender) T14
Graeme McDowell (Sleeper) T28
Justin Rose (Winner) T17
This was the second week in a row where I locked no top-10s, but all of my 5 picks were inside the top-30. I’ll take it, I guess. Had a good feeling about both Bubba and Rory and supplemented those two in my fantasy leagues where there was some benefit there.
I did not think that Scott would play so well in back-to-back weeks.
Average picks from me for the WGC at Doral. Working to get it together here for the Copperhead.
Past 5 Winners at the Valspar
- 2015: Jordan Spieth
- 2014: John Senden
- 2013: Kevin Streelman
- 2012: Luke Donald
- 2011: Gary Woodland
Course Overview: Innisbrook Golf Resort (Copperhead)
I was at the 2013 event and spent time walking around the facilities. This golf course gets praise from players each and every year the Tour stops north of Tampa Bay, and I can see why. As prefaced in the video above, the course is littered with subtle double doglegs and creative usage of a treelined facility.
Aesthetically speaking, this is a great Tour venue with an intimate feel, good elevation change and all of the aspects that make for a great golf course.
It’s difficult too. Featuring the now famed Snake Pit, the classic Packard-design offers bite. Only the players in a playoff (Spieth, Reed & O’Hair) reached double digits under par and 39 golfers total were under par for the week (of a 144-man field).
More good stuff from Timothy Frank here:
7 of the last 11 winners of the Valspar ended that season ranked 33rd or better in Proximity from 200+ yards. 10 of 11 were 80th or better.
— Timothy Frank (@FantasyGolfMan) March 7, 2016
This Week’s Picks
Three from the Fairway (Contenders)
1. Jordan Spieth
With his last two starts yielding “un-Spiethian” performances, the world number one will be chomping at the bit to get back into form. Especially at a course that fits his eye so well.
The defending champion here, Spieth’s game is carbon fit for the Copperhead track. A course that requires good long iron play, accurate play off the tee and an effective putter will make him dangerous all week. He’s finished inside the top-20 in both of his starts at this course.
Last week was an off-week again for Jordan, but he was still top-20. The Golf Channel, with their beady camera lenses pinned on him all the time, saw him leave the putting greens last each night of practice at Doral. That hard work on the greens starts to pay off this week–and Spieth will be in contention.
2. Webb Simpson
Uhhh…Webb, my man, where have you been?
Simpson is making his 4th start of the PGA Tour season this week and first since pegging it up at the WMPO before the Super Bowl. It’s been a month off, but a month of rest that will put him in contention down the stretch come Sunday. There have been some injury concerns with Webb, but if he plays, I’m liking him enough this week to go with him.
Simpson is 3-for-3 so far in 2016 with top-20 finishes at the Sony, CareerBuilder and Waste Management. Statistically, he’s 4th on the Tour in Greens-in-regulation and he’s played well at this venue many times in the past. He was a runner-up finisher 5 years ago, and has a collection of nice finishes here.
Haven’t heard enough from Simpson this year and you know Adam Scott’s short putter resurgence has him licking his chops and ready to prove himself with the 2016 putting legislation. Super solid with the long irons.
3. Harris English
He’s made the cut in Tampa for three consecutive seasons and he’s been in the top-10 for two of those. He’s playing some really nice golf right now, having finished the week last week at Doral inside the top-10 and already notching a top-5 on the season over a month ago.
English’s all-around, “I’m good at everything” game sets up nice for this course. He’s putting it very well so far in 2016 and he’s got the length off the tee to give him some shorter irons into these lengthy par-4s.
Even if the Georgia Bulldog is in enemy territory, I like him to play well this week…
More Contenders to Consider
- Graeme McDowell (played fine on a course which doesn’t fit him last week, poisde for better this week)
- Jason Dufner (played well last week and LOVES this venue)
One from the Rough (Sleepers)
This is the second week in a row that I’ve selected a player to be my sleeper that has heavy major championship experience and a great track record of good play (last week McDowell). The reason for Oosthuizen this week as a sleeper is because of his record at this event: a flurry of missed cuts.
No, seriously, Oosthuizen has a super streak of MCs at the Copperhead course. A 20th in 2012 has been followed by three straight missed cuts. But looking closer, none were filled with horrible play. I mean, 72s, 73s and 74s are trash for Tour pros, but that’s what it’s been for Louis in Tampa. He finished with three straight 68s in 2012. Three straight 68s ended, just as three straight MCs will.
This pick as a sleeper is based off his current play and form. Two weeks ago, Louis was a winner overseas. When he came to Doral last week, he faced the difficult venue, harsh winds and stout field and finished inside the top-15, keeping the good play going.
I like a weird, sneaky top-10 from Louis this week.
The Man With the Trophy
He’s got the style of play, the form and the course history here to have fingers pointed in his direction, so I’ll be the one to jump him this week.
The Big Swede Stenson was a solo 4th finisher last year, and it was his first time seeing the course. That bodes very, very well for him. Ho-hum play from Stenson last week at Doral, but his solid play last year makes him one of the main threats taking the field this week.
Look at where his game was before the Doral start:
Stenson's last 3 starts worldwide:
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 2, 2016
He’s top-20 on Tour in GIR (in limited starts in 2016), but he was the Tour leader in 2015 in that category. Consider his deadly iron play, consistent putting and accurate, but long play off the tee to be what separates Stenson this week.
I can picture it already, a ton of stinger, hard-laced, 3-woods with precise 7, 8, and 9-irons into these greens at a 70%+ clip.
Hole a couple of putts and he’ll be the winner.