Coop’s Valspar Championship Preview

This week we are headed to Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Florida for the Valspar Championship. CC is a par 71 course playing roughly 7350 yards and is one of the tougher courses we see on tour. CC typically plays to par or one shot over on average on a nice day and if we get winds we could be looking at the Honda Classic part two. The defending champion is Adam Hadwin while Charles Schwartzel and Jordan Spieth won the prior two years. As mentioned before scoring will depend upon how much wind the players have to deal with as Hadwin won at -14, Schwartzel at -7 and Spieth -10. What we typically see are four to five players break away from the field by 3-4 shots then another ten or so players a couple shots behind them while most players are usually around par or under depending on wind. We will see large Bermuda TifEagle greens that will run at average speed and are typically some of the hardest on tour to hit. CC is known for the Snake Pit which is the final three holes on the course. The 16th hole is a true challenge and has the potential to post a very big score as it is defended by water. The 17th and 18th don’t carry the lethal bite that 16 does but they are challenging holes as all three holes usually play over par for the tournament. CC offers a unique set up for a par 71 course as it features five par 3 holes that all play 195-220 yards, nine par 4 holes with only three playing over 450 yards and four par 5 holes. Don’t expect to see many eagles this week as the par 5 holes don’t yield many and when they do it’s typically on the opening hole.

STATS TO USE THIS WEEK
Usually we don’t see five par 3 holes on a course and typically we only see 1-2 play over 200 yards but this week due to the amount of par 3’s I will be focusing in on par 3 scoring. Since CC is one of the tougher courses we always want players who are playing solid all around golf to SGT2G will be important. CC is a ball strikers course so SG Approach will be important and I will want players who are hitting the ball well from 175-200 yds as that is the range most second shots fall within. Finally with the greens being a challenge to hit you will want to be able to scramble well. All stats are based on rank within the field over the last six tournaments.

STUDS UP TOP
After taking a week off Rory McIlroy is back and it will be quite interesting to see were his ownership falls. Rory has been low owned for the last couple tournaments he has played. What makes this even more interesting is this is the first trip to CC for McIlroy. Will Rory try to overpower this course or will he play smart and club down is my big question. If he clubs down I like his chances. If Rory continues to be underowned I will have a small portion because he can break out at any moment.
Tournaments 3
SGT2G 48th
SG Approach 68th
Proximity 175-200 10th
Par 3 63rd
Scrambling % 56th

After a two year layoff Justin Rose is returning to CC were he has made 6/7 cuts to go along with two T10 finishes. Rose didn’t play his best golf at WGC Mexico last week but perhaps that was due to his coming off a five week layoff. Rose had his fair share of birdies last week but they were compounded by just as many bogeys or worse. If Rose stays under 15% I will take my shot on him but anything higher I will pass.
Tournaments 2
SGT2G 38th
SG Approach 95th
Proximity 175-200 28th
Par 3 86th
Scrambling % 68th

Sergio Garcia is returning to CC after a four year break from the tournament were he made all five cuts with one T10. Garcia is coming off a solid performance at the WGC Mexico and with his course history I would expect him to be very popular. Garcia is striking the ball as well as any player on tour, unfortunately his game on the green and around the green has been letting him down. I have mixed thoughts on Garcia this week because of his play around the green which is important this week.
Tournaments 2
SGT2G 10th
SG Approach 3rd
Proximity 175-200 7th
Par 3 60th
Scrambling % 64th

Jordan Spieth played at the WGC Mexico tournament just like he has been playing all year as his last five results before his 14th place last week was 9th, 20th, MC, 18th and 9th. Spieth simply has not been able to put together all of his game as he hasn’t been able to go low. So is this the week he gets his game all together or do we see more mediocre finishes for the player who has the biggest salary this week. Spieth didn’t play CC last year but the four previous years he finished 18th, 1st, 20th and 7th. I will be in on Spieth at a rate of double his projected ownership as Spieth is not far off from putting it all together and is due for that break out.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 8th
SG Approach 34th
Proximity 175-200 32nd
Par 3 41st
Scrambling % 4th

LOOKING FOR THAT BIG WIN
Paul Casey has not played at CC the last two years and he has had mediocre results in his previous four tries missing the cut twice while finishing 37th and 42nd when making the cut. Casey is coming off a disappointing 12th place finish at the WGC Mexico last week as he was the highest owned player last week so I am sure he left some bad tastes in people’s mouth. Casey had one bad round last week and I think with the bad taste he left plus his bad course history he will be relatively low owned. I will make sure to have some Casey this week as when you read below his course history is setting up perfectly for this week. My biggest concern with Casey is can he have a solid putting week.
Tournaments 3
SGT2G 2nd
SG Approach 10th
Proximity 175-200 15th
Par 3 1st
Scrambling % 31st

It would appear that Tony Finau has decided to take his game to that next level this and all he is missing is that big win. Finau is playing consistent golf as he has finished 27th, 2nd, MC, 6th and 32nd in his last five tournaments. Much like Casey, Finau was very popular last week and his 27th place finish left people disappointed but again he had one bad round. I won’t play a chalky Finau this week so I will need his ownership to be at 15% or less.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 2nd 13th
SG Approach 10th 32nd
Proximity 175-200 112th
Par 3 29th
Scrambling % 13th

Matt Kuchar has made 7/8 cuts at CC including six in a row but his best finish is 10th. Kuchar was off last week at the WGC Mexico as he finished near the bottom of the leaderboard shooting three rounds of over par golf. This kind of result has been typical of Kuchar recently as before last week he had finished 26th and 52nd in his previous two tournaments. As you can see below Kuchar is just playing bad golf recently and I am not sure this is the course were you can all of a sudden turn it around.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 99th
SG Approach 80th
Proximity 175-200 98th
Par 3 66th
Scrambling % 51st

Luke List is playing very good golf as he recently competed for the win at the Honda Classic finishing 2nd to go along with finishes of 26th, 26th and 12th in his previous three tournaments. It wasn’t to long ago that List had the big bomber tag who can’t putt and chip. Does four tournaments make all the difference and is this a new and improved List that we are seeing or is this just a good roll he is on and he will revert back to old List? That’s the decision we will have to make this week as once again we have a course that doesn’t necessarily set up well for List. One more tidbit on List, he is ranked 73rd in the world and he needs to win or get into the T50 to earn a berth in the Masters.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 3rd
SG Approach 30th
Proximity 175-200 50th
Par 3 17th
Scrambling % 17th

Instead of adding more words for Jason Dufner I refer you to the Matt Kuchar segment. Dufner has made 9/10 cuts including nine in a row with 10th being his best finish. Dufner has better form than Kuchar but nothing to right home about.
Tournaments 2
SGT2G 55th
SG Approach 41st
Proximity 175-200 21st
Par 3 91st
Scrambling % 83rd

WILDCARDS
We have the return of Henrik Stenson to the PGA tour this week as he prepares his game for the Masters in a few weeks. Stenson will be a interesting play this week as many will avoid him since he hasn’t played for four weeks. Stenson has solid history at CC finishing 7th, 11th and 4th in his three tries at CC. Every year he has played the WGC tourney the week before minus last year when he WD so he has shown that he can compete at CC when he hasn’t played for a couple weeks as the WGC was the only tournament he has played in the four weeks leading up to this tournament in each of the past three years. No stats available on Stenson.

Tiger Woods played at the Honda Classic two weeks ago finishing 12th when many said the course wasn’t a great fit and he had little experience at the course. Tiger had been struggling with the driver coming into the tournament and was able to play a course that was not considered driver heavy. I expect Tiger to see his highest ownership of the year this week and my interest will depend upon if he is going to be using driver the majority of the time or clubbing down. Like Rory, I like a Tiger that is clubbing down.
Tournaments 2
SGT2G 63rd
SG Approach 43rd
Proximity 175-200 49th
Par 3 80th
Scrambling % 45th

The calling card for Matthew Fitzpatrick has been out there as everyone continues to wait for this guy to break out and take his game to the next level. People forget that Fitzpatrick is only 23 years old and he is coming off his best season on the Euro tour. Fitzpatrick now needs that success to translate to the PGA tour in order to get the monkey off his back or he may go on to be the next Lee Westwood as the guy who never wins a major, competes well at Augusta and plays very good on the Euro tour. Fitzpatrick is making his first appearance at CC and I feel this is a good course fit for him but that was also said for Harbour Town last year and he MC.
Tournaments 1
SGT2G 118th
SG Approach 131st
Proximity 175-200 111th
Par 3 24th
Scrambling % 9th

Ross Fisher is a very good golfer who has had success playing in WCG events as well as majors but we rarely see him in regular PGA tournaments. Fisher has played at CC twice several years ago finishing 63rd and missing the cut. Fisher is a more seasoned golfer at this point in his career and I feel he has the mental part of the game to compete and win at CC this week. Of note see the two tweets below from Fisher, if playing him make sure you follow up on him.

Not to be today WGCMexico. Back just didn’t allow me to hit the ball properly.Shame to finish off poorly but been a great week and making an ace was (link: http://special.Fun) special.Fun with JonRahmpga RickieFowler.Thanks to all involved this week.Who’s going to win 🤔#excitingfinishahead Mar 3 Bit of everything today WGCMexico. Wasn’t at 100% as back still sore. Awesome to get an ace,loved the local commentary 😂. Enjoyed JonRahmpga tonyfinaugolf company and good fun. 1 more day left to grind out and finish strong 💪🏻
Tournaments 1
SGT2G 31st
SG Approach 1st
Proximity 175-200 5th
Par 3 24th
Scrambling % 41st

Ollie Schniederjans has been a pain in my backside this year as he has either been feast or famine with the latter happening most recently and more often. I would imagine Ollie will be low owned as he has not been playing well and he has played CC twice and missed the cut both times. We all know if I don’t play him this week he will burn me so I will be in on Ollie but not the 20-30% I have been with him recently.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 21st
SG Approach 13th
Proximity 175-200 128th
Par 3 72nd
Scrambling % 107th

LOOKING FOR SOME FLYERS THIS WEEK
Nick Watney is a perfect 10/10 at CC when making the cuts with three T15 finishes. Watney has seemed to resurrect his career recently as he has made five consecutive cuts this year although his best finish is 26th. If you are looking for someone who will save you some roster dollars and is most likely going to make the cut then Watney is your man. If you happen to get a T20 from Watney then I would consider that a big win.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 25th
SG Approach 24th
Proximity 175-200 11th
Par 3 14th
Scrambling % 69th

If you are looking for a little more risk but someone with good course history who can save you some salary then Luke Donald is your man. Donald has made 6/7 cuts at CC including one win and three other T6 finishes but the bad news is all those great finishes came 2014 and before as Donald MC last year to go along with a 22nd and 53rd two years previously. Staying with the theme of bad news Donald has missed the cut in four of his last five tournaments this year. No doubt all this bad news will bring the ownership down on Donald so if you are willing to take a chance he may pay off with a made cut and anything in the T30 would be a huge win. Donald is in a similar situation as Graham McDowell was entering the Honda Classic and then he missed the cut.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 115th
SG Approach 105th
Proximity 175-200 117th
Par 3 92nd
Scrambling % 58th

Personally I would fill more confident playing the next two players than the previous two players and I will own at a higher ownership than Watney and Donald. I am hoping the word is not out on Ben Martin as being a very good player on bermuda surfaces. I played Martin at a high rate during the Honda Classic and he posted solid results for his price. Martin has only played CC twice finishing 52nd last year to go with a MC a few years ago. Martin enters CC playing very solid golf making his last five cuts. I am hoping his limited course history keeps him at 5% or less.
Tournaments 3
SGT2G 70th
SG Approach 23rd
Proximity 175-200 23rd
Par 3 58th
Scrambling % 60th

The other golfer I like this week is John Huh as he like Martin is a very good player on bermuda. I had several lineups at the Honda Classic with both Martin and Huh and I intend to do the same this week. Huh may not come in as low owned as Martin as he has played well at CC recently making his last three cuts with finishes of 9th, 22nd and 33rd. Huh has also been playing well recently making 5/6 cuts.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 30th
SG Approach 14th
Proximity 175-200 70th
Par 3 25th
Scrambling % 57th

DOES COURSE HISTORY MATTER THIS WEEK
There are many who play DFS golf who rely on course history as a big part of selecting there player pool. For myself it depends upon the tournament and the player as to how much I weigh in course history. At the Masters course history will be a big factor when selecting my player pool, this week will be the opposite as course history means basically nothing to me and I will be using current form and stats to select my player pool. I have provided some examples below as to why.

Adam Hadwin 71st, MC then a win last year
Louie Oosthuizen 20th, MC, MC, MC, then a 7th
Tony Finau MC, MC, then finish 5th last year
Scott Stallings first year 3rd then a MC, MC, MC, MC, MC, 68th
Ernie Els MC, MC, MC, MC, 5th, MC, 6th

There are numerous examples of were players have missed numerous cuts then all of a sudden they have one great year but the best has to be Sean O’Hair starting with his most recent results first. WD, WD, 2nd, 74th, 69th, MC, MC, MC, MC, 1st, MC, MC. So why do we have such erratic play at this tournament? I don’t know exactly but I would imagine wind has something to do with it and being on the wrong side of the draw along with five par 3’s being played at over 195 yds.so who are some candidates this year who could pop up out of nowhere? I would be surprised to see any of these players win this week besides the first player listed but they could help fill out a 6/6 while being very low owned.

Beyung Han An 49th Ly in first appearance and checks all the boxes. An should stay under 10% due to his price as well as his name not being relatively known. My only concern with An this week is if he brings his putter with him.
Tournaments 2
SGT2G 6th
SG Approach 9th
Proximity 175-200 16th
Par 3 2nd
Scrambling % 20th

Patrick Rodgers MC, MC the last two years but has been playing great golf. The numbers below don’t show that as it includes two missed cuts but if you just look at the numbers for his last three tournaments were he finished 33rd, 26th and 8th he is deserving some sprinkles.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 75th
SG Approach 85th
Proximity 175-200 88th
Par 3 13th
Scrambling % 34th

Sam Burns is making his first appearance at CC as he came on the scene at the Honda Classic and played very good golf. Can he maintain that level, only time will tell but he has the talent to be a star in the next couple years.
Tournaments 2
SGT2G 36th
SG Approach 2nd
Proximity 175-200 9th
Par 3 73rd
Scrambling % 12th

Derek Fathauer MC, MC, MC over his last three appearances at CC but he is perhaps playing his best golf of his career making four consecutive cuts and 5/6 with two T20 finishes.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 50th
SG Approach 47th
Proximity 175-200 123rd
Par 3 12th
Scrambling % 22nd

HV3 MC, MC in his two appearances at CC and not playing great golf plus I feel the course isn’t a great fit but his stats below are all fairly consistent and he could sneak in a made cut for you.
Tournaments 2
SGT2G 57th
SG Approach 52nd
Proximity 175-200 53rd
Par 3 50th
Scrambling % 54th

Scott Stallings See above, has made his last four cuts including two T10 finishes. Can Stallings carry that over this week, his stats would tell you yes.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 37th
SG Approach 26th
Proximity 175-200 54th
Par 3 9th
Scrambling % 16th

Si Woo Kim WD, MC is returning from a few weeks off and plays much better on bermuda surfaces. This could be a week were Si Woo pops out of nowhere as his stats are not to bad.
Tournaments 3
SGT2G 11th
SG Approach 39th
Proximity 175-200 64th
Par 3 45th
Scrambling % 79th

THESE GUYS HAVE THE MASTERS ON THERE MIND
We are only five weeks away from the Masters and there are only four tournaments left that will provide you with that automatic bid with a win. Currently we only have 83 players qualified for the Masters which usually see’s 90-93 entries. Winning is not the only way you can still qualify but you will need to be T50 in the world golf rankings the week before the Masters to qualify. Currently we have three players who need to stay inside the T50 to qualify Satoshi Kodaira 43rd, Dylan Frittelli 45th and Chez Reavie 47th. If these three players stay in the T50 and we have no new winners that have not qualified we will have a field of 86 this year for the Masters. Interesting to see that the Masters offered a special invitation to Shubhanker Sharma today and he accepted. This is very rare and usually only offered to European players. Perhaps the Masters committee is concerned about the qualifiers being down this year and we may see 1-2 more special invitations. In 2016 and 2002 the Masters only qualified 89 players and to reach that number this year without more special invitations will be a stretch. Below are the players who are playing this week that need to get into the T50 to qualify and believe me, they all know what they need to do in order to get into the Masters.

Cam Smith has taken his game to a level never seen before as he is becoming a consistent player this year. Smith has made his last five cuts and four of those finishes include T20 finishes. Smith has played at CC twice finishing 49th and 42nd but he has never arrives at this tournament playing at the level he currently is. A solid finish inside the T10 will most likely move Smith into the T50 as he ranks 52nd currently.
Tournaments 3
SGT2G 15th
SG Approach 22nd
Proximity 175-200 105th
Par 3 10th
Scrambling % 3rd

Ian Poulter has made 3/4 cuts at CC but his recent form is not all that spectacular missing two cuts to go with a 52nd and 6th in his last four tournaments. Currently ranked 63rd in the world Poulter will need to step up his game if he is looking to get into the Masters.
Tournaments 2
SGT2G 53rd
SG Approach 82nd
Proximity 175-200 13th
Par 3 73rd
Scrambling % 14th

Charles Howell is a player that we all know plays his best golf at the beginning of the year. CH3 has made 8/10 cuts at CC with four T10’s which is solid and similar to many of his finishes that we have seen over the last several years at the tournaments Played at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately for CH3 he is not performing at the same level that he has in previous years as he has only one T10 and he has missed one cut in his last five tournaments. CH3 currently ranks 64th in the world and he would love to play at the Masters as it’s his hometown.
Tournaments 3
SGT2G 4th
SG Approach 5th
Proximity 175-200 92nd
Par 3 40th
Scrambling % 105th

I have some interest this week in Kevin Na as he has played fairly solid at CC and his recent form is solid. The amount of Na that I play will depend upon his ownership and if he can stay under 10% I will be inclined to jump on him this week. Na currently ranks 65th in the world rankings and he needs some very good performances or one T5 to get into the T50.
Tournaments 3
SGT2G 23rd
SG Approach 31st
Proximity 175-200 33rd
Par 3 1st
Scrambling % 5th

Keegan Bradley has not been playing any spectacular golf as he has finishes of 49th, MC, 43rd, 5th, 39th in his last five tournaments to go along with a 58th and MC at CC. Nothing is saying play Bradley this week as his current form isn’t great. Bradley is ranked 69th in the world and it’s going to be a big battle to get inside the T50.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 5th
SG Approach 7th
Proximity 175-200 100th
Par 3 50th
Scrambling % 90th

Chesson Hadley was playing some good golf until he missed the cut at the Honda Classic while being some heavy chalk so it will be interesting to see how the DFS community reacts to this. Hadley has made all three cuts at CC and it would appear that his hot streak that started last fall has now cooled off. I feel a T20 finish from Hadley this week would be a very good result. Hadley ranks 72nd in the world golf rankings and I feel this tournament along with the Houston Open will be his two best chances to get himself into the Masters.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 44th
SG Approach 6th
Proximity 175-200 73rd
Par 3 85th
Scrambling % 81st

Brandt Snedeker has a solid history at CC making 7/8 cuts with two T10’s but those came several years ago. Sneds has been playing ok golf this year making 3/5 cuts but his best finish is 20th. Sneds still has not found his groove since returning to the PGA tour this year after having an injury last year. Sneds has very good history on the West coast especially poa greens and if his game was in good shape he would have competed better at those tournaments in my opinion. I am skeptical of Sneds this week but I also know he has a huge passion for playing in the Masters. Sneds is currently ranked 74th in the world.
Tournaments 4
SGT2G 43rd
SG Approach 47th
Proximity 175-200 118th
Par 3 50th
Scrambling % 28th

Shane Lowry has struggled this year missing two cuts and placing 49th, 43rd and 65th in his three other tournaments. I like many keep saying Lowry is going to get it turned around this week only to be disappointed. Lowry is making his debut at CC and I see no reason to play him unless the wind really picks up. Lowry comes into this weeks tournament ranked 75th in the world.
Tournaments 5
SGT2G 98th
SG Approach 69th
Proximity 175-200 30th
Par 3 37th
Scrambling % 110th

I have listed some other players I am considering playing this week below.
Ryan Moore
Chris Kirk
Aaron Wise
Austin Cook
Steve Stricker
Kevin Streelman
Brandon Harkins
That is all for this week, hope everyone has a good week and remember to check the weather as we may have some wind issues pop up on Thursday. Thanks
Coop

About the Author

Comments

  • holla2mlo

    • Blogger of the Month

    great job!

  • Phil9Mil

    Thanks. Appreciate all the research. Good luck!! Don’t do this :)

  • Ketter

    Nice to see this article back. Cam Smith, Na, Stenson are all guys you mentioned that I absolutely love. I am going to have a lot of ownership on them. I am trying not to let weather affect my decisions, because it is so random and rarely pops outside of The Open Championship, but all three of those guys are on the supposed bad side of the draw. Are you going to take any weather considerations this week?

    One guy I didn’t see you mention (though maybe I just missed him) that I was wondering your take on is Lovemark. He has great recent form and did well at Honda in those tough conditions and it seems like this course has a similar feel so I am fairly high on him.

  • MortalWombat

    Informative read. Interesting take on course history for this week. Prob should be premium content but glad ev1 can read for free.

  • Whosiere41

    • Blogger of the Month

    Love this write up! Awesome job analyzing all these players. This is the best information I have found so far when searching through RG. I love the way you break it down to the individual golfer and discuss the strengths and weaknesses based of the course and tourney they are playing. The one thing that would make it over the top imo is pricing. But I know that is a pain including data from multiple sites. And is easy enough to find elswhere, but if this had pricing it would be a one stop and done research for me! Keep up the good work!

  • Cooper08

    • Blogger of the Month

    Thanks for all the kind words!

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