Valspar Championship Picks and Predictions

Well, the toll of 4 elevated events in 5 weeks is about to take its toll on the PGA Tour, at least for this week before we get the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play and the Masters in 2 of the next 4 events.

The Valspar Championship has long been one of the forgotten events of the Florida Swing, though this year it has a few more big names than the Honda Classic did.

Those names: Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, defending champion Sam Burns among them, will come to battle the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook CC this week, as the race to the Masters in 3 weeks officially is on and players who haven't already qualified are looking to etch their names into the roster of golf's most prestigious tournament.

Last week's playing of THE PLAYERS Championship was fantastic to watch but had somewhat of an uneventful ending as re-crowned world number 1 Scottie Scheffler played a near-flawless final round to take home the trophy, so we as golf fans are definitely looking for a more exciting week at the Valspar this week. Let's dive into the course and betting preview to see if a name sticks out to give us that!

2023 Valspar Championship

  • Date: Thursday Mar. 16 - Sunday Mar. 19 2023
  • Venue: Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Course)
  • Location: Palm Harbor, Florida
  • Par-Yardage: 71, 7,340 yards
  • Defending Champion: Sam Burns
  • TV: CBS, Golf Channel

This tournament had been held 15 consecutive times without a winning score being better than -15, and then Burns came along and won both of the last two playings of this tournament at -17, with last year's coming in a playoff win over Davis Riley.

In that same span, the eventual winners have only won by more than a single stroke FOUR times, as the grinding nature of Copperhead can really beat guys down. With winning scores in that range, you'd better have guys who aren't slouches in the scrambling department, as the greens are small targets to begin with.

All five Par 3s are going to grade out as most of the toughest holes on the course this week, as four of the five are 200 or more yards, with the 17th in the heart of the Snake Pit going to be host to plenty of ugly-looking scores this week.

Scoring on these tough Par 3's is what really can give guys some separation from the field in this event, and that's never a bad metric to lean on a bit.

In addition to the tough slate of Par 3s, pay attention to guys who can score on the Par 5s, because they will represent one of the highest correlations to actual success at this event given how hard the angular nature of this golf course can be. Driving distance gets mitigated by how positionally strong you need to be on this course, so we are looking for Good Drives Gained, as well.

Valspar Championship
Betting Odds

In terms of true contenders here, there aren't many. Thomas, Spieth, and Burns lead the way, with names like Keegan Bradley (+2500), Matt Fitzpatrick (+1600), and Justin Rose (+2200) all loom.

It will be interesting to see who comprises the rest of the top 15 on Sunday, because like the Honda Classic where there is a severe lack of star-power and dependable names to bet on, Valspar will have those same issues, which makes it a little harder to pick a name from the other tiers.

Valspar Championship Contenders

  • Justin Thomas +1200
  • Jordan Spieth +1200
  • Matt Fitzpatrick +1600
  • Sam Burns +1800
  • Justin Rose +2200
  • Keegan Bradley +2500
  • Tommy Fleetwood+2500

After the top 6 guys and Fleetwood in the odds, we have quite a few question marks.

Brian Harman (+3500) loves to contend at tracks like this, but can he get it done? Questions also remain for Riley (+3500) and Denny McCarthy (+3500), neither of whom have won but have both flirted with wins multiple times and possess enough skill to take over a tournament, especially in a weaker field like this.

Talented rookie Justin Suh (+3500) comes next, as well as the up-and-down (but currently up) Wyndham Clark (+3500), both of whom are intriguing: Suh for his ball-striking prowess and all-around strong game and Clark for his recent string of strong finishes as well as multiple recent events where he gained 3.5+ strokes on approach.

Will one of these players in the 40/1 or better range take home the trophy this year, like Burns has managed to do? Will Burns repeat? Or do we see another longer-odds player take home this title at an event that tends to vacillate between contenders and longshots winning?

Contender to Back
Denny McCarthy +3500

McCarthy is not really a fit for the "strong contender" portion of this article, but he's who I'm most confident in to make a run this week, and it starts with his motivations right now: qualifying for the Masters in 3 weeks.

To get into the Masters, the simplest thing you need to do is to be in the Official World Golf Ranking's top 50 players, and Denny currently sits at 57th. That means continuing to run hot in these tournaments is a key thing for him to do, and coming off of a T13 at TPC Sawgrass, I expect him to be in just the perfect state of mind to make a run at Innisbrook this week.

McCarthy has never missed the cut here in his three starts, and and a high finish of T9 in 2019. In addition to this, this is a course that values Strokes Gained: Around the Green and Putting over nearly everything, and they just so happen to be two of Denny's biggest strengths. I expect him to do well on the tough Par 3s as well, since that's another area he excels in.

Mid-Range Value
Ben Griffin +5000

Griffin falls into the category of a guy who is ready to win his first event, but hasn't quite shown he's there yet. I think he's a little better suited to a placement bet in a weak field like this where people may overreact to his outright number, but I'm not going to shy away from placing him in this category.

Griffin is a model star, ranking high most weeks and coming first this week. He's middle of the pack in Strokes Gained: Approach, but he's one of the better putters on Bermuda grass on Tour and has looked good frequently this season when playing these positional Bermuda courses. He's also very adept on the Par 3s and is one of the best in the PGA at gaining strokes around the green.

I think Griffin is going to win a tournament sooner rather than later, and it's probably wise to continue riding this train while he produces strong result after strong result. Guys tend to break through after runs like this, and Griffin has a couple solid opportunities before the summer starts.

Long Shot Pick
Eric Cole +10000

Cole is a trendy pick, if only because his recent runner-up finish at the Honda Classic a few weeks ago showed the golf world exactly what the 34-year-old PGA Tour rookie could be: a first-time winner.

Cole showed a ton of promise that week, despite the fact that he went on to lose a playoff to eventual champion Chris Kirk. He also showed that he likes to compete in this Florida Swing, a fact that he proceeded to put on full display this past week at THE PLAYERS where he finished T27 in the most stacked field we have seen this season. He's quietly had a decent season so far with 4 top-30 finishes.

That shows some gumption, and I think Cole has what it takes to potentially take home a win at the Valspar Championship this week.

He grades out as a solid fit for the course this week, ranking 6th in my model and grading highly at Strokes Gained: Approach, Putting, Par 5s, and Par 3s.

Top 20 Placement

Davis Riley +190

Riley may have missed the cut at TPC Sawgrass last week, but he has shown time and time again that he has an affinity for the Florida Swing, and the Valspar Championship applies to that statement.

In his first ever appearance at Innisbrook last season, Riley finished 2nd to Sam Burns by way of a playoff, riding a strong putting and around the green week. In addition to the strong course history at the Valspar, Riley also has a strong resume at what is considered the closest comp course to Innisbrook in Colonial CC, where he was a contender all 4 days and ultimately finished fourth.

Riley can be hit or miss depending on what his putter does, but he is one of the best approach players on Tour and also performs well on Par 5s, so he should not have a problem scoring at this event.

How to Bet on Golf

Golf betting has gained much more exposure and interest in the past few years, and with plenty of plus-money prices littered throughout the various forms of golf wagers, the chance for bigger scores is part of the reason behind that increased popularity.

2023 Golf Betting Schedule

Sportsbooks ensure that there are no shortage of wagering options on golf tournaments every week, and it isn't all about picking the winner. Grabbing the outright winner of a golf tournament is the best way to get that 'big score' but it's also the hardest wager to cash. After all, a typical professional golf tournament has a field of 140+ different players to consider.

Understanding Golf Odds and Bets

Most golf odds are listed in the fractional format – 10/1 on Dustin Johnson for example – and in that particular case you would multiply the amount bet by that first number to project your winnings. So a $100 bet on DJ to win that particular event would win you $1000.

If you are more comfortable with the American version of odds listings that you typically see across the other major North American sports – ie +1000 – these numbers are easily convertible. Online and app based books may already have that option built in, but the easiest way to do it yourself is to add two zeros to the first number in the fraction. So a 10/1 price on DJ converts to +1000 in that format.