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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:45 PM

Valspar Championship Picks and Predictions

Apr. 28, 2021

Golf Expert

Now that the stroke play team event in New Orleans has come and gone on the PGA Tour schedule this year, it makes for a slightly smoother handicapping process again.

The Zurich Classic did bring plenty of drama on Sunday between the two international teams of Marc Leishman/Cam Smith and Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel, and had Oosthuizen not gone in the water with his tee shot on the first playoff hole, we could have seen a very exciting, multiple hole playoff there, changing formats (alternate shot/best ball) every time.

But the international flavor we saw at the top of the leaderboard last week, could continue this week with the PGA Tour heading back to Florida for the Valspar. This is an event that has seen each of the last four winners here (and five of the past six) be non-Americans, and even the aforementioned Schwartzel (2016) is a past champion at the Valspar.

That run of international winners here isn't a one-off either, as this tournament came into existence in 2000, and through 19 past tournaments (missed 2001 and 2020), 12 winners have been non-Americans.

Englishman Paul Casey is the two-time defending champ of this tournament, which also made him the third two-time champion of this event in it's existence. That speaks to the idea that course familiarity and how much a guy actually likes/finds success playing at the Copperhead Course is somewhat important.

But since this track also tests every aspect of a golfer's game – especially since moving to Bermuda greens in 2015 – it's also an event where the favorites tend to show up at the top of the leaderboard.

Favorites are favorites because their all-around game grades out better than most, and with only one winner since the greens were changed in 2015 closing at higher than +2500 odds – Adam Hadwin won around 80-1 – we might see the top of the odds board reign supreme again this week.

Golf Betting Resources
2021 Valspar Championship

This tournament has been held 15 consecutive times without a winning score being better than -15, with six of those winning scores being single digits under par.

In that same span, the eventual winners have only won by more than a single stroke three 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 3's 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.

All three of the Par 5's should be a mental reprieve for guys as they are where guys have to do the bulk of their scoring. There's no real advantage to having length here, unless accuracy accompanies it, as the fairways are tight to begin with as tree trouble lurks everywhere.

Find the guy that can play from the short stuff more often than not, can really dial in his irons to small greens, has some decent past history here, and can avoid awful numbers with their scrambling and you'll likely have your winner. Always easier said than done.

Paul Casey captured the Valspar Championship in 2019 and he's expected to be in contention again this weekend from Florida. (AP)

Valspar Championship
Betting Odds

The two biggest names in the field trying to conquer Copperhead for the first time in their respective careers are Justin Thomas (+1000) and Dustin Johnson (+1100). Thomas has teed it up three times in the past here with two Top 20's and a MC, while DJ's first start here in nine years back in 2019 ended up with a 6th place finish.

Considering he missed the cut at this track in his previous start at Copperhead back in 2010, Johnson may be a guy that's definitely in favor of the switch to Bermuda.

Valspar Championship Contenders

  • Justin Thomas +850
  • Dustin Johnson +1000
  • Patrick Reed +2000
  • Paul Casey +2000
  • Viktor Hovland +2000
  • Corey Conners +2200
  • Tyrrell Hatton +2500
  • Scottie Scheffler +2800

Corey Conners (+1800) and Patrick Reed (+1800) round out the sub-+2000 grouping, and all four guys in that group are no slouches in the approach game. Reed's had a pair of runner-up finishes here since 2015, while Conners maiden voyage at this track resulted in a 16th place finish back in 2018.

The defending champion Paul Casey (+2200) leads the next wave of players, as Viktor Hovland (+2200) and Sungjae Im (+2800). If you prefer to ride the wave of international players winning this event, this is the group of guys you'll want to hone in on. Would never really back a guy going for a three-peat, and if Casey accomplishes the feat this week, I've got no problem tipping my hat to him.

But it would be the other names here I'd prefer of the group, although combined they've only got a total of two career starts at Copperhead. Hovland's making his maiden voyage at the venue this week and Im finished 4th here back in 2019; the first start at this course for both of them.

Beyond that group we've got names such as Abraham Ancer, Scottie Scheffler, and Russell Henley all listed at +3000 with more known names like Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Rose slightly further back at +3500.

If you are looking for the trend of internationals here to continue, there are plenty of good names listed already at the top of the board. Tough to fault anyone for selections on the bulk of those names, but only one of them is for me and it's an American no less.

Golfers to Watch - Valspar Championship
Top Picks and Predictions

Valspar Championship - Contender to Back
Patrick Reed +1800

Tough to ignore Reed at this event, as two runner up finishes in his last five tries here are hard to beat from a course history standpoint, unless you are Paul Casey of course. But Reed's been stringing together some quality finishes himself with two Top 10's in his last five starts coming into the week, all coming after his win at the Farmers.

When you are the best putter on Tour this year as Reed is though (SG: Putting 1.101), good finishes are going to come in bunches, and on small, fast greens, it never hurts to have the guy in the field that's shown he's been the best at it all year.

As one of the favorites in the field, any statistical knock you may find with Reed for this event is basically washed out, especially when you consider his past results at Copperhead specifically.

I think pricing him exactly the same as Conners is a mistake here, and while the tournament isn't just the two of them, the idea that Reed may actually be a little undervalued in that sense has me pulling the trigger.

Valspar Championship - Mid-Range Value
Cameron Tringale +4500

It's been a few years since Tringale had some solid success at Copperhead, as he's missed the cut here his past three tries. Given that his statistical weakness in the Strokes Gained category is Around-the-Green he won't always fit everyone's profile for this event.

But from 2013-15, Tringale had finishes of 3rd, 25th, and 17th here and his SG number everywhere else are solid, basically in the Top 50 in everything on Tour this year. He's also one of the better scorers on Par 3's so far this year, ranking T36 with an average of exactly 3.00 strokes per hole, and pars on the Par 3's here are likely to gain ground on the field.

If his approach game is wobbly and Tringale ends up having to chip often this play will be dead in the water rather quickly, but there is enough good out there for him to be added to the card, and that's before mentioning his recent finishes of 9th, 13th, MC, 31st, 26th, 7th, and 17th in his last seven starts overall.

It's that recent form that has me believing he won't be spending an awful lot of time losing strokes to the field with his chipping, and if a few puts can drop, who knows.

Valspar Championship - Long Shot Pick
Danny Willett +15000

Getting at least one international player on the card is something I agree with, and while there are definitely much more likely choices than Willett, I've really liked his game over the past month or so. He finished in 8th last week in the team event, a week after finishing 18th at the Heritage.

There were two missed cuts prior to that at the Texas Open and Masters, but Willett also managed to card another 8th place finish at Puntacana in late March. That's three Top 20's in his last five starts overall with two Top 10's in there. Pretty good current form in my opinion.

Willet's also made the cut in both starts at the Valspar, finishing 42nd in 2019, and 22nd a few years prior (2016). More importantly though, Willett ranks 3rd on Tour right now in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green (.775), he's 38th in SG: Off-the-Tee overall (.306), and his putting has always been solid (ranks 35th in SG:Putting at .451). His lack of length off the tee is usually a hindrance but won't be as big of a concern this week either.

Willett's approach game is his weak point though and why he's above the 100-1 range (SG: Approach is -0.86) and that's important every week. But with scores not likely to be all that low at Copperhead as is typically the case, and scrambling to save pars possibly being a huge difference maker, it's Willett's game around and on the greens that I expect him to excel at and outperform this price by a wide margin.

With the recent form being there, a win might not be coming this week, but with a Top 20 finish for willing being offered at +600, and prices of +300 and +150 out there for Top 30 and 40 finishes respectively, that's likely where the best ROI shows up with Willett this week.

Valspar Championship - 72 Hole Matchup to Take
Viktor Hovland (-103) over Corey Conners (-125)

Putting might end up being the thing that holds Hovland back in this matchup, but with him ranked 90th in SG: Putting and Conners ranking 78th, the difference there could be negligible. This play does go back to the discussion in the Patrick Reed section about my disagreement with Conners price this week, as I'm even willing to back Hovland in his first go around at Copperhead to beat him.

No disputes with any argument for Conners based on current form as it's been tremendous, but I'm still not entirely convinced a good seven-week stretch of golf by Conners is deserving of him to be priced in this type of stratosphere.

I view Hovland's ceiling as quite a bit higher than Conners overall to begin with, and with someone who I think has a much higher win equity, I'll take the underdog price in a head-to-head.

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.

2021 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.

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