THE PLAYERS Championship is officially in the rearview mirror (congrats to Scottie Scheffler) as we now turn our attention to the Valspar Championship. This is the last stop on the Florida Swing, but the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort doesn’t have the same feel as the other courses in the Sunshine State. It features tree-lined fairways and elevation changes, making it similar to a course in the Carolinas.
On the scorecard, Copperhead is a par-71 that measures 7,340 yards. It features four par fives and five par-threes, which is unique for a PGA TOUR layout. After playing much easier than expected the last two years, the TOUR and/or the course superintendent decided to increase the difficulty for this year’s edition. The rough has been grown up to 3.75 inches and the intermediate cut is down from 72 inches to 21 inches, which means the fairways are only 22 yards wide on average.
These changes should make the course much tougher and that’s before we get into the weather for the week. The forecast is essentially calling for 20+ MPH gusts on all four days, so don’t be surprised to see the winning score in the 8-to-10 under par range.
As far as course fit goes, you don’t have to be long off the tee to contend here. Hitting fairways is much more important than distance, especially with the new course setup. The greens are small and tough to hit on average, which places an emphasis on iron play and around the green play. Speaking of iron play, nearly 65% of approach shots will come from at least 175 yards, so golfers will need to be dialed in with their long irons.
Let’s get into the bets for the week.
Tommy Fleetwood +2500 (BetMGM)
You would think putting an outright on a golfer who never wins would be a bad idea, but everyone said the same about Paul Casey, and he won this event in 2019.
Fleetwood is the best in the field in Strokes Gained per round in Florida, he likes difficult scoring conditions, and he flourishes in the wind. He’s gained on approach in 12 straight ShotLink events, including +5.0 on approach last week at THE PLAYERS. In his debut here last year, he finished T16 and gained strokes in all four facets.
Adam Hadwin +2500 (Caesars)
Hadwin was a three-foot putt away from being in the top 10 at last week’s PLAYERS but ultimately missed the putt on 18 and had to settle for a T13 finish. His strengths really fit this week’s course as he’s accurate off the tee, he can gain strokes with his irons, he’s very good around the greens, and he’s a good putter on Bermudagrass.
In his last five appearances here, he has a win and two more top-15 finishes. The form is good, the fit is good, and the outright number is more than reasonable.
Davis Riley +3500 (DraftKings)
If you have bet on golf for more than six months, you have likely seen many talk about this being the event to bet on Davis Riley. We have all been waiting and waiting for this week, and it’s finally here.
Riley, it’s time to hold up your end of the bargain.
He has a new caddie on the bag, and his game has certainly come around the last few weeks with a T29 finish at the Honda and a T8 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He lost in a playoff here last year, so it’s time for some redemption.
Top 40 Parlay:
Fleetwood, Fitzpatrick, Clark, B. An & Vegas +1258 (FanDuel)
This parlay is inspired by the potential wave advantage for the PM/AM group in the first two rounds. The forecast could always change, but as of now, it looks like the PM/AM group will have the lighter winds on both days.
Step one is getting everyone through the cut. Step two is making sure they all finish in the top 40. Fleetwood seems as safe as anyone, Matt Fitzpatrick finished T5 here last year, Wyndham Clark has gained on approach in seven of his last nine starts, Byeong Hun An seems to love all of the Florida courses, and Jhonattan Vegas is 2-for-2 at this event with a T27 here last year.
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