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BlogValspar Championship Preview and Picks

Valspar Championship

March 13 – 16, 2014

Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Course)

Palm Harbor, Fla.

Par: 71 / Yardage: 7,340

Purse: $5.7 Million

with $1,026,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Kevin Streelman

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 14 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with only one player from the top-ten: #7 Justin Rose. The other top 50 players are #11 Matt Kuchar, #13 Jordan Spieth, #17 Jason Dufner, #19 Brandt Snedeker, #23 Jim Furyk, #25 Luke Donald, #30 Graham DeLaet, #31 Bill Haas, #33 Ernie Els, #34 Louis Oosthuizen, #38 Harris English, #43 Kevin Streelman and #49 Jonas Blixt.

The field includes 11 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2014.  Those players are #5 Harris English, #11 Jordan Spieth, #13 Brian Stuard, #14 Graham DeLaet, #18 Charles Howell III, #19 Gary Woodland, #20 Russell Knox, #21 Chesson Hadley, #23 Will MacKenzie, #24 Bill Haas and #25 Jason Bohn.

The field includes 8 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list.  Those players are #5 Harris English, #12 Jordan Spieth,  #13 Graham DeLaet, #14 Brian Stuard, #17 Gary Woodland, #20 Charles Howell III, #21 Chesson Hadley and #23 Will MacKenzie.

The field includes all ten of the eleven past champions (2000 champion John Huston not playing): Kevin Streelman (2013), Luke Donald (2012), Gary Woodland (2011), Jim Furyk (2010), Retief Goosen (2009 & ’03),  Sean O’Hair (2008), K.J. Choi (2006 & ’02), Carl Pettersson (2005) and Vijay Singh (2004).

The event was not played in 2001 because of the 9/11 tragedy.

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Valspar Championship field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Valspar Championship in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Valspar Championship.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Valspar Championship

Player WGC Cadillac Puerto Rico Honda WGC Accenture Northern Trust AT&T Pebble Joburg Open Phoenix Open Abu Dhabi Farmers Qatar Masters Humana Dubai Desert
Jordan Spieth
(218 pts)
T34
(24)
DNP DNP T5
(105)
T12
(25.33)
T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Bill Haas
(190.5 pts)
T6
(90)
DNP DNP T17
(49.5)
T23
(18)
DNP DNP T34
(10.67)
DNP T43
(2.33)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP
Harris English
(180.83 pts)
T16
(51)
DNP DNP T9
(67.5)
T10
(26.67)
DNP DNP 9
(30)
DNP DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP
Chesson Hadley
(171.33 pts)
DNP Win
(132)
T24
(26)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T10
(26.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Graham Delaet
(149.5 pts)
T34
(24)
DNP DNP T33
(25.5)
T70
(0)
DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Jason Dufner
(135 pts)
T9
(67.5)
DNP DNP T9
(67.5)
T65
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T72
(0)
DNP DNP
Russell Knox
(134.33 pts)
DNP DNP T2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T27
(15.33)
DNP DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP
Jim Furyk
(133 pts)
T62
(0)
DNP DNP T5
(105)
T23
(18)
T35
(10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Ernie Els
(127.67 pts)
T52
(0)
DNP DNP 4
(120)
T35
(10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Luke Donald
(117.33 pts)
T25
(37.5)
DNP T8
(50)
T33
(25.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP DNP
Matt Kuchar
(116.33 pts)
T13
(55.5)
DNP DNP T9
(67.5)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Will MacKenzie
(115.33 pts)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP T52
(0)
T13
(24.67)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP
Louis Oosthuizen
(113.33 pts)
T40
(15)
DNP DNP T5
(105)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Brooks Koepka
(109 pts)
DNP T19
(31)
T33
(17)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP T3
(60)
Webb Simpson
(107.67 pts)
T47
(4.5)
DNP DNP T9
(67.5)
T70
(0)
DNP DNP 10
(26.67)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(9)
DNP
Jonas Blixt
(104.5 pts)
T16
(51)
DNP DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP T34
(10.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Gary Woodland
(102.5 pts)
T16
(51)
DNP DNP T33
(25.5)
DNP DNP DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP T38
(4)
DNP
George McNeill
(102.33 pts)
DNP T19
(31)
T12
(38)
DNP T6
(40)
T52
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Richard H. Lee
(96.67 pts)
DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP T45
(3.33)
T10
(26.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Pat Perez
(96 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 75
(0)
T7
(36.67)
DNP 11
(26)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP
Cameron Tringale
(88.33 pts)
DNP DNP T41
(9)
DNP T12
(25.33)
T13
(24.67)
DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP T38
(4)
DNP
Matteo Manassero
(87.17 pts)
T60
(0)
DNP T12
(38)
T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T31
(6.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Thorbjorn Olesen
(85.5 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T33
(25.5)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T56
(0)
DNP T3
(30)
DNP T5
(46.67)
Wes Roach
(85.33 pts)
DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP T32
(12)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Bryce Molder
(84.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
T10
(26.67)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP 70
(0)
DNP T38
(4)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Valspar Championship

Player WGC Cadillac Puerto Rico Honda WGC Accenture Northern Trust AT&T Pebble Joburg Open Phoenix Open Abu Dhabi Farmers Qatar Masters Humana Dubai Desert
Tommy Gainey
(-41.67 pts)
DNP WD
(-5)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Lucas Glover
(-36.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Mike Weir
(-35 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Bo Van Pelt
(-29.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP
Kyle Stanley
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T61
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Paul Goydos
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
D.H. Lee
(-25 pts)
DNP DNP WD
(-5)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
J.J. Henry
(-25 pts)
DNP DQ
(-5)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T40
(6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T82
(0)
DNP
Briny Baird
(-23.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
WD
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Johnson Wagner
(-21.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Just don’t know what surprises me more, Patrick Reed winning a World Golf Championship or Tiger Woods playing so bad this year.

Patrick Reed

  • Let’s start with Reed, a 23-year-old who reminds you a bit of Rory Sabbatini, one of the most loath players on Tour.  Reed is a bit hard in places, very cocky and may not be a fan-friendly player like a Bubba Watson.  He had the courage to tell NBC Sports that he could be one of the top-five players in the world, a statement that if you look at the Tour in the last six months could be true.  In a way it reminds you of another brash youngster from 50 years back, Muhammad Ali.  For many oldtimers like myself I will reserve judgement until he plays a few majors and we see what kind of player he really is.  The reason I say this, look at other really young players that came out and won early, Robert Gamez, Anthony Kim, Camilo Villegas, Jhonattan Vegas, Sean O’Hair and even Sabbatini to name a few.  They came out early, won and many wrote that they were the superstars of the future.  Today Gamez is not a part of the PGA Tour while the other five are struggling through injuries and poor play.  This is a perfect example on what could happen to players who have a hall of fame game early but then lose it.  Even look at Sergio Garcia, many thought he was the next Seve Ballesteros, now he has had a nice career but not a hall of fame career.  So it takes years of really good play to be accomplished, just look at some like Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker as examples.  If Reed can continue to win and also play well in majors, maybe he will be know as a top-five player, but he hasn’t even played a major yet.  One thing about Reed, of active players only five other players, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson have won time times at 23 years old.  But at the same time in Reed’s 51 PGA Tour starts he has as much Jeckel and Hyde in him on the consistency front.  In his 51 starts he as only seven top-tens, compared to missing 17 cuts.  In Tiger Woods first 50 starts as a professional he won 8 times, had 28 top-tens and only missed one cut and withdrew from another tournament.  So you can see Reed has a long way to go before we call him a superstar.
  • One amazing stat, Reed will be the first player in at least 40 years to play his first major with 3 PGA Tour victories under his belt.  The closet I could find was Roger Maltbie and Robert Gamez playing their first majors with two wins so it’s going to be interesting when Reed tees up in the Masters next month.  Another interesting sideline on playing his first Masters with three PGA Tour wins, Jimmy Walker will be playing his first Masters with three wins.  In looking for most wins by players in there first start at Augusta was Tom Shaw in 1971, he had four PGA Tour wins under his belt, the most.  Now Reed and Walker join Denis Watson (1985), Mark Hayes (1977) and Brian Gay (2010) with three wins.  Oh, the ultimate snub, Cameron Beckman also has three wins but has never played in the Masters.
  • So the big question, will Reed bring up glory in any of the majors this year?  Time will tell

Tiger Woods

  • Gosh he is really in a bad state.  Since Woods is such a guarded person we don’t know if his problem is physical, mental, family caused or I don’t mean to say it so bluntly, laziness. No matter what Tiger is really playing bad, a lot like he did in the summer of 2010 when he was out of sync.  With the Masters just a month away, there is plenty of time for him to get his game back in shape but after seeing him painfully playing on Sunday there is no way that Tiger is going to win again with a bad back.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tiger not defend next week at the Palmer, he needs to rest the back and get going when he is pain-free.  Now let’s look at the worst case scenario, maybe a couple of weeks won’t do cure him, maybe he needs weeks or possibly months to get it back together.  I think this has been Woods biggest problem and one that you can’t go to a swing coach to fix.  I also wonder what Woods status with Sean Foley is, you don’t see the two working much and Tiger talking much about the relationship.  In looking at the careers of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Tom Watson all of them never had injury concerns.  In the case of Nicklaus, Player and Watson, they all did well in their 40s which help their careers achieve super stardom. Maybe it’s just not in the cards for Tiger, maybe he will have to deal with these problems for the rest of his career.  It’s amazing to think, that Tiger has been playing to-notch golf for 17 years, that’s a lot of swings and wear on his body, especially the back.

Things you need to know about the Valspar Championship

  • This will be the 14th Transitions Championship, with the first one being played in 2000.
  • The tournament was formally called the Tampa Bay Classic and then changed in 2003 to the Chrysler Championship.  They dropped out in 2006 and PODS took over sponsorship and got a added boast with the advent of the FedEx Cup series and the transfer of the Players Championship to May.  So in 2007, just six months after the close of the 2006 event the tournament moved into it’s new March date. but that didn’t last long as they were gone after the 2008 event.   Unfortunely because of a change of management at PODS, they dropped out after the 2008 event.  But the power of the PGA Tour shined through as Transitions Lens, an opitical lens manufacturing company, who’s headquarters are in the Tampa Bay area came to the rescue with a four year deal but unfortunely that deal came to an end after the 2012 event.  They got EverBank to write off some of the expenses last year but for this year they have there sixth sponsor Valspar, a company that manufacturers of paint and coatings.  The 2001 event wasn’t played because of the 9/11 tragedy.
  • When the tournament first started in 2000, it was the first time that a full PGA Tour event was held in the area since the St. Petersburg Open, which was held between 1930 and 1964.  The course was the home of the mix-event JCPenney Classic, which ended in 1999.

Course information:

  • Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Course)
  • Palm Harbor, Fl.
  • 7,340 yards     Par 36-35–71
  • Course has a 76.8 rating and slope rating of 144 fron the championship tees. The course is part of a resort and is open to those that stay at the course.  It also sells local memberships.
  • Course has 63 bunkers and 8 water hazards in which 6 holes have water in play for the professionals.
  • In 2013 the Copperhead course was the 7th hardest course on the PGA Tour playing to a 72.222 average playing 1.222 strokes over par.
  • The Copperhead course was designed by Larry Packard and opened in 1974.It was restored in 1999, two years after it was purchased by Westin Inc, The goal of the restoration project was to regain the shot values and still challenge today’s longer-hitting PGA Tour players when Innisbrook hosts PGA Tour events. The plan involved refurbishing all 18 greens, restructuring many of the bunkers, removing some trees around the greens to improve air movement and sunlight, and clearing out undergrowth between fairways. The length of the golf course is the most visible change from 7,087 to 7,230 yards by the addition of tournament tees on five holes.  Since then minor renovations has added another 53 yards to the course.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Valspar Championship:

Key stat for the winner:

In looking at the 13 champions of this event, nine of them have this in common.  They were in the top-eleven in greens hit.  Matter of fact four of them were in the top-five while Gary Woodland in 2011 ranked T29th and Luke Donald was T43rd in 2012.  Last year Kevin Streelman was T11th in that stat.  So it is important to hit lots of greens and for those that do they usually have a bit of a advantage.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • This event is one of the hidden gems on the PGA Tour.  Played on a great course, unfortunely it’s  in a bad time between Doral and the Palmer to really get a great field.  Still it gets a good field of players that love the course and if mother nature gets mean with winds the scoring goes way up.  This event was played in October until 2007 and the change hasn’t made much of a difference other than the rough is a bit healthier now.
  • Accuracy is more of a premium in March than it was in October now that the rough has been overseeded and is more lush.
  • Florida is always windy, look for that to play havoc on the players who haven’t had to play Innisbrook under windy conditions
  • All the par 5s are within reach of the average player and even though the course is over 7,300 yards this won’t present much of a problem, look for lots of greens to be hit.  Last year Kevin Streelman was 9 under on the four par5s.
  • Look at all of these facts and you can come to the conclusion that good ballstrikers ruled the roost.  This is not your typical Florida type of course because the fairways are tight, the rough will be tall with tough putting surfaces.
  • One oddity that you don’t see in most events is the fact that you don’t have many players that shot four rounds in the 60s.  Of the 13 champions only four have accomplished that, in 2002 with K.J. Choi, in 2004 with Vijay Singh, in 2010 with Jim Furyk and in 2011 with Gary Woodland.
  • Another oddity along this line, in the history of this event only 33 times has someone broke par 4 times during the week.  Making this stat odd is the fact that only 11 times has this happen when the event was played in the spring, the last time it happened was five times in 2012.  Last year nobody shot four rounds in the 60s.
  • The last five winners have been gone on to have great seasons as they have finished the year of their win inside the top-30 in FedEx Cup standings, with 2010 champion Jim Furyk winning the FedEx Cup title

 

 

Who to watch for at the Valspar Championship

Best Bets:

Luke Donald

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T4 Win T6 T58 T22

Loves the Copperhead course, in his last three starts has only been over par once and is a combine 26 under on a really hard course. He has not won in a while and is long overdue.

Harris English

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T7 CUT

Just like with Patrick Reed and Jimmy Walker it’s time for English climb into a different level. This would be another of those places he can do well on, was T7th last year and looking for a win.

Jim Furyk

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T7 T2 T13 Win T52 CUT

After a slow start is starting to play better. Timing is perfect because he has been in the top-13, four straight years including a win in 2010. I can see him play well this week.

Best of the rest:

Matt Kuchar

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T14 T10 T12 CUT T20 T9

Played well last week until the end, has been very consistent in this event, I can see him winning here.

Jason Dufner

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T21 T10 T28 T28 T17 CUT

Was knocking on the door last week, he can do that on this course, look for him to do very well.

Graham DeLaet

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T17 CUT

In this season of parody it only makes sense that DeLaet finally wins. Could do it this week, looking to bounce back and play like he did at Torrey Pines and Phoenix.

Jordan Spieth

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T7

Lot’s of pressure on this kid, yes he is great and did finish T7th last year, but I still see him learning and getting better. Can he win this week, yes he can.

Solid contenders

Webb Simpson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T17 T10 2 T13 CUT

He has a sneaky good record in this event, has had a couple of top-tens in the last month.

Bill Haas

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T16 CUT T30 CUT T58

Game has gotten better on every start in the last six weeks, has never played well on this course but look for that to change this week.

Gary Woodland

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T29 Win

Mixed year of some good play and some not so good. I can see him coming back to Tampa and surprising up, this course is perfect for him.

Justin Leonard

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T4 T29 T20 T20 CUT T25 T38 T13

Hasn’t won in a long time, it probably won’t come this week but I can see him playing well this year like he did last year.

Long shots that could come through:

Sang-Moon Bae

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T43 T2

Played well here in 2012 and finished T12th in his last start in L.A.

Richard H. Lee

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T70

Finished T4th in Puerto Rico and has had a good year, could be a good longshot.

Erik Compton

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T30

We always root and hope for that day that he brings through, I would probably take a top-ten from him this week.

Don’t know if he is ready yet:

Justin Rose

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T29 T5 T13 T14 T25 T20 T30

This is a perfect course for him but I don’t think he is completely healthy, I am very guard on his doing well. But he will get better each week and I can see him 100% by the Masters.

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