The PGA golf tour heads back to Florida for the 2021 Valspar Championship this week at the Innisbrook Resort. The players will play the par 71, 7,340 yard Copperhead Course, known as one of the tougher courses on tour.
The field for this event is pretty good with a couple big names up top, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson, and a strong group of players behind them. The tournament doesn’t typically draw the best players but the change in position on the calendar seems to help at least a little.
Copperhead is a tight course with lots of doglegs, trees, and water in play and precision from tee to green. Less than driver off the tee here is required more than usual as seen by the drop off in average driving distance here compared to the average tour event.
Iron play is key since most players will be able to back off and hit some fairways leaving most players in about the same spot. The best players from the fairway in are going to be at the top of the leaderboard this week.
Strokes Gained: Approach will be the key factor as usual but fairways gained, SG: Short Game and par three scoring will be factors. There are five par threes and four par fives at Copperhead.
Paul Casey is the two time defending champion this year after Covid-19 caused last years event to be cancelled. Casey comes into this year’s tournament at +2200 to win. He played solid all around to get the win both times.
Trying to look at the stats I mentioned above plus some guys in good form who have succeeded here before is the way to go this week. Also, I don’t mind factoring in prior success in Florida for guys with limited experience to look at there as Florida courses can play similarly.
2021 Valspar Championship Picks
There is a nice middle tier of players this week that offer some nice value on the outright side. JT and DJ help push down some of the odds for the other guys which is nice.
Make sure to shop around on outright numbers this week as there appears to be some variety available if you find someone you like.
Viktor Hovland +2200 (DraftKings)
Hovland has had a really great start to 2021 with three top fives so far and also a win last year before the Christmas break. He has proven he is one of the best players on tour and is poised to get a win in a legit field like this.
Hovland’s tee to green game is really great and it fits this course pretty well. His length won’t help as much this week but his premier iron play should be a big advantage this week.
Another thing Vik has going for him is his improved short game and putting in particular. Hovland has gained strokes putting in four of his last five starts. His chipping is still coming a long but is much improved from last year.
Hovland ranks in the top 25 in SG: Approach and Opportunities Gained as well as Strokes Gained: Par 5.
Charley Hoffman +4500 (DraftKings)
Hoffman is in the midst of maybe the best golf of his career at least statistically. His game is in really good shape right now and his game suits this course really nicely.
Hoffman has seven straight made cuts with five top 20’s among them. He finished second to Jordan Spieth a few weeks ago in Texas and seems to be ready to win again on tour.
Hoffman ranks 7th in SG: Approach and has been on fire with his irons. He also ranks third in SG: Par Three and fourth in Opportunities Gained and is making a ton of birdies.
Hoffman has some success in Florida and as long as he positions himself well off the tee should be in the mix Sunday.
Longshots I like: Chris Kirk +5500 & Lanto Griffin +10000
Corey Conners +200 (DraftKings)
Conners is really on a fire right now with five straight top 15 finishes included four top 8’s. He has finally figured out how to putt at least average and his ball striking is in great form.
Conners has always been a great tee to green player but the putter prohibited him from really competing. His ball striking has remained the same while gaining strokes putting in four straight starts.
Conners ranks 1st in SG: Ball Striking and third in Fairways Gained. He fits this course so well with his ability to find the fairway and hit it close from there. As long as the hot putting continues he will contend.
Conners has only played here once three years ago and finished 16th but has some past success in Florida and putts his best on bermuda greens.
Longshot I like: Lucas Glover +550
Chris Kirk +200
Kirk is another player running hot with some really strong golf lately. Kirk has been in this article a ton lately as the books keep hanging some really nice value on him. He doesn’t have the name recognition to have his number moved much.
Kirk has three top 10’s in his last five starts and is another player who should succeed at Copperhead. His game is pretty consistent tee to green with really good iron play and a bunch of fairways hit.
He hasn’t had a ton of success at the Valspar but he hasn’t played as well as he is right now. He has gained strokes on approach in five of six starts and has been putting well recently as well.
Keegan Bradley +275
Bradley is completely putting dependent. He struggles on the greens and his finishes usually are dictated by how well or poorly he putts. The rest of his game is stellar.
Bradley’s irons are some of the best on tour. He ranks third in SG: Approach and 7th in Opportunities Gained. He is always giving himself look for birdie.
Bradley also ranks top 10 in Fairways Gained and will be in the fairway all week. If his putter, which has been better, shows up okay he should be fine here. He has five top 20’s in his last six starts.
Longshot I like: Chase Seiffert +500
Jason Kokrak +100 over Scottie Scheffler (DraftKings)
Kokrak is a major horse for the course this week. Kokrak has played this event six times and has four top 15 finishes. He is also coming into the week in nice form.
Kokrak had three consecutive top 10’s before one bad round at the Masters dropped him to 49th. His approach play was really getting going with over three strokes gained on approach at both the Players and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
His history here suggests a pretty high floor and his ability to get hot with his irons and putter is a nice plus.
Scheffler isn’t in poor form but I just don’t see his game fitting well here. Scheffler is more of a bomber who tends to succeed on the driver heavy courses. Scheffler hasn’t played here yet and Kokrak has that advantage.
Scheffler has just one top 20 in his last three starts and can be a bit inconsistent with his putter and he won’t be able to lean on his driving much this week. Take Kokrak and his course history and ride his floor.
Griffin is one of the most under the radar players on tour that has a resume like his. He has a win on tour and has 14 top 25 finishes since the start of last year. He has had a solid season so far this year as well.
Griffin is a really good iron player and putter, both of which should be key this week at Copperhead. He hasn’t had any super high finishes in the past couple months but a ton of top 40’s which helps keep his number in a nice betting range.
Griffin just needs to put the ball in the fairway this week to give his irons a chance. He is currently posted at +350 to top 20, +200 to top 30 and is +138 to finish in the top 40 which is great value in this field.