The 2023 Valspar Championship serves as the last of a series of consecutive PGA tournaments in Florida, then we’re off to Texas for two weeks as we count down to the Masters in just 22 days. The Sunshine State swing has been a brutal lineup of courses and championships. From the Bear Claw to the Snake Pit, these four events provide us with a seemingly-endless amount of drama.
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If you read this column each week, you should subscribe to Read The Line. If you’re reading this on Wednesday, there’s still time to check it out before tomorrow’s PGA TOUR starts. Speaking of that, let’s get to the Valspar Championship odds, then discuss the tournament and course in greater detail, and last but of course not least, list our best bets and predictions.
Valspar Championship 2023: Betting odds
|Golfer||Winner||Top 5||Top 10|
|Byeong Hun An||+6000||+1200||+600|
|Erik Van Rooyen||+15000||+2800||+1200|
|Paul Haley II||+40000||+7000||+2500|
Valspar Championship: Tournament and course details
The final and fourth leg of the Florida swing takes 85 of the guys from TPC Sawgrass down Interstate 4 to Palm Harbor near Tampa Bay to the Innisbrook Resort. The Valspar Championship has been contested in different months on the schedule, but always played at the Copperhead Course. The par-71’s unique layout extends to 7,340 yards.
There are five par-3s ranging from 195-235 yards. You must be equal to the task with your iron game to excel here. These five holes combined play 0.55 strokes over par. Considering they consist of 28% of the holes these guys will play this week, that’s significant. As I develop this week’s winning narrative, iron play is easily the frontrunner for Best Skill.
The Copperhead Course is much like a slap in the face considering the scorecard annually plays as one of top 8 toughest tests on the PGA TOUR. The players hit substantially less than the Tour average of Greens in Regulation (GIR). This puts pressure on the short game and close range putting. The fabled Snake Pit (Holes 16, 17, and 18) is one thing, but overall the contenders need incredible accuracy to avoid being the Best Supporting Player.
In the GCSAA Report (Course Conditions), the Superintendent was sure to mention they increased the rough length by 0.75”. Sam Burns won the last two Valspars at 17 under par. Scores like that force tournament officials to make changes. More rough at Innisbrook is a significant one. Speaking of recent champions, let’s take a closer look at who they are and how they built a blueprint to winning.
Valspar Championship 2023: Winning trends
- The average winning score over the last five years is 13 under par. Extend the range to ten years and the average drops to 11 under par.
- Those past champions’ pre-tournament odds are interesting. Six of the last 10 started the event under +3300, yet the average in that decade is +6600 (66-1). This shows us there have been some long shots who took home the title as well.
- Iron play is the big indicator at Innisbrook. With 11 dogleg tee shot shots over 13 holes, players are forced to hit their drive in specific landing zones. Those layups make this a proximity contest with a mid and long iron. Burns, Casey, Spieth, and Schwartzel are all great approach players. Each gained five strokes on average against the field the week they won.
- With so many forced layups off the tee, and smaller sized greens (5,822 square/feet average) these guys will need serious short game skill to contend. Whether they are scrambling for birdie on the par 5s, or saving par on another hole, Strokes Gained Around the Green (SG:ARG) helps you separate yourself. In the last ten years, winners have lost strokes off the tee 50% of the time while they have all gained an average of 2.7 strokes around the green.
- Putting can be a powerful trait on certain courses. Last week, we saw how it helped those at the top contend or collapse. The Copperhead Course is one of the toughest on Tour putting inside five feet from the hole. Whether you are getting up and down, or just securing a short birdie putt, these greens are demanding. Pick a great putter this week; sorry JT!
There’s 13 holes that have a bogey rate over 15%. Conversely, only six share a birdie rate above the 15% line. Of course the cutline average is nearly two over par (+1.8) for the last ten years. Attacking Innisbrook takes patience. There’s a specific recipe off the tee followed by a pressure filled formula for hitting the greens. We want players who can avoid bogeys as often as they increase their opportunities to score (BoB%).
Burns built his leads through par-5 scoring. Those four holes are the best birdie opportunities with an average scoring rate of 31%. Similar to last week, I want players who have shown great recent form. This is not a course where you find yourself. Search for your swing and you’ll be heading home on Friday. Due to the demands of the course and possible PLAYERS fatigue, I kept my card tight.
Best bet to win: Justin Suh (+3700 FanDuel)
Justin Suh hasn’t missed a cut on tour since October. The young Korn Ferry Tour star is really starting to find his place on the PGA TOUR. In his last three starts, he has finished 5th (Honda), 24th (API), and 6th (PLAYERS). Justin hasn’t finished outside the top 40 in his last five tournaments. An impressive ball striker, his BoB% is ranked eighth in the field. I believe his current play continues, and he more than contends this weekend.
Best bet to finish in the top 20: Justin Rose (+130 on FanDuel)
To go along with our outright prediction, I have two potent placement bets. The first is a top 20 for Justin Rose. I watched Justin on Tour in 2022 and saw the work he was putting in. In the fall, I wrote several times how 2023 would be a big year for him. With a win and a 6th place last week at the PLAYERS, we are definitely riding this former world #1 ranked player.
Best bet to finish in the top 40: Ben Griffin (+100 on FanDuel)
The second placement pick is Ben Griffin to finish in the top 40. Ben has the perfect combination of driver skill and short game touch. Similar to Suh, this rookie has been hot in 2023. In seven starts since January 1, Ben only finished outside the top 35 one time. Last week, he impressed everyone on a big stage. He’s incredible on positional courses and gaining over a stroke per start with his putter.
For a complete list of my betting predictions covering winners, placements, H2H matchups, One and Done picks, and DFS recommendations for the LPGA and PGA TOUR please go to Read The Line and subscribe.
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