DraftKings Picks for the Valspar Championship 2021
The deadly closing stretch dubbed the “Snake Pit” on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort just outside Tampa, Florida awaits the PGA Tour this week as the field tees it up for the Valspar Championship. The final stop in Florida for the 2020-21 season. Let’s get you set to see some green screens on DraftKings this weekend.
What's up golf addicts! AC here, checking in week to week to provide a quick preview of the upcoming PGA Tour event. I’ll give you the lowdown on the course, the players, some key stats, and our favorite DraftKings picks for the week.
After a nice week off it’s time to jump back into the action with a tough course and a pretty strong field. Congrats to anyone who was on the All-Aussie team of Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman who narrowly clipped the South-African duo of Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen in a playoff to claim the Zurich Classic title. We just missed out on a nice ticket with Richy Werenski and Peter Uihlein but did hit a T20 with them and the team of Doug Ghim and Justin Suh. All but the winners and Suh will be back in action this week.
The Valspar Championship has always been a tough event to win. Typically wedged around THE PLAYERS and the WGC Mexico, the field was always mixed and never felt super strong. This week, however, both the world #1 and #2, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, headline the field. Viktor Hovland, Patrick Reed, Scottie Scheffler, Corey Conners, and back to back defending Valspar Champion, Paul Casey, are in the mix. Casey will look to become just the third play to win a title at the same course three years in a row. It has happened eight times in the past with Tiger Woods completing the feat six of them.
Innisbrook Copperhead Course Breakdown
The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort was designed in 1971 by Larry Packard who lived at Innisbrook until he died in 2014 at the age of 101. The 7,300 yard par 71 features smallish greens, 74 bunkers, and water in play on half of the holes. Celebration bermudagrass lies tee to green with overseeded ryegrass on the tee boxes and rough. TifEagle bermudagrass lies on the putting surfaces overseeded with Poa Trivialis. This event is typically played in March so the overseed is required course-wide but due to the later start the fairways were not overseeded.
Two of the main defenses of the course are the thick rough which is cut at 3” and of course the wind, which is expected to be a factor according to the current forecast. As mentioned above, Copperhead also features one of the toughest closing stretches in golf. Once players reach the 16th hole they will enter the Snake Pit. None of the final three holes has a birdie % over 11 and each have a bogey % over 18%. None of them have ever been eagled!
There are 19 years of history at Copperhead and the Valspar Championship. Nobody has scored better than -15 in the last 15 years. Casey won at -8 and -10 in 2019 and 2018 respectively with 2020 being cancelled due to Covid-19. CANADIAN Adam Hadwin, won at -14 in 2017 with Schwartzel (-7), Jordan Spieth (-10), John Senden (-7) and Kevin Streelman (-10) among the past champs.
Looking at Fantasy National’s course breakdown, strokes gained approach jumps out as being the most important stat this week. Adding some ball striking and opps gained will add a bit more emphasis on who’s hitting their irons the best. Par 5 and par 3 scoring are also big factors this week with four pretty long par 5s, three being between 550-600. Copperhead has five par 3s all between 175-225 yards. It is also easy to narrow down par 4 scoring this week with seven of the nine par 4s coming in between 400-450 yards. Driving accuracy is slightly below average at Copperhead with greens and regulation being well below average. Finding the fairway is definitely more beneficial than distance this week.
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The Picks & Fades
Each week I will give you my plays and a fade from each DraftKings salary range.
DB: Play - Corey Conners | Fade - Tyrrell Hatton
Pat: Play - Abraham Ancer | Fade - Scottie Scheffler
AC: Play - Paul Casey, Corey Conners, Abraham Ancer | Fade - Dustin Johnson
Just going to trust my model this week and mix in some course history. Casey, Conners, and Ancer have tamed the snake and rate out incredibly in my model. Casey is 5th in 400-450 par 4 scoring along with the ball striking while Conners and Ancer both rank higher! Conners has been the best swinger of the golf club in 2021 and Ancer isn’t too far behind. Obviously fading the highest priced guys is generally easy but this could be DJ’s final week at #1. It’s been a couple months since we saw some decent golf from Paulina Gretzky’s partner and DFL fairways gained, par 3 scoring and a lackluster putter won’t make it easy this week
DB: Play - Max Homa | Fade - Bubba Watson
Pat: Play - Jason Kokrak | Fade -
AC: Play - Jason Kokrak, Chris Kirk | Fade - Bubba Watson
I have been on Kokrak and Kirk almost every week in 2021 and they have rarely disappointed me. Though Kirk’s history here isn’t the best, he is also in a much better place in life and in his game. Both are top 10 in my model for this week. Kokrak ranks at the top of the par 3 and 5 scoring ranges and Kirk is #1 in par 4 scoring. There could be some chalk issues but leverage can be found elsewhere. The numbers for Bubba however, are just too bad for him to not be the fade here. His DK scoring is very, very bad and he is pretty much dark red in every stat in my model.
DB: Play - Keegan Bradley | Fade - Sam Burns
Pat: Play - Lucas Glover | Fade - Kevin Kisner
AC: Play - Doug Ghim, Peter Uihlein, Tom Hoge | Fade - Cameron Champ
Back on the reaper this week. Well I never really left. Ghim doesn’t have any history here but I’m not really concerned about that. If not for some Sunday meltdowns in the last few events, his stats and finishes would be stellar. The putter is worrisome but he’s young and the irons can make up for it. Love seeing Uihlein playing well. In his last five starts, he has a win and a runner up on the KFT, a t22 at Corales, and a solo 3rd last week at Zurich. Has one start at Valspar which amounted to a T65 in 2019. Hoge has been an auto FRL bet for me for the last few seasons and has started to slide him into my T20 card as well. Loving how he has been striking the ball lately and some deep finishes are right around the corner. Champ has just been all over the place this season and is one of the worst DK scorers in the field. Combine that with poor approach and fairway numbers and no thanks.
DB: Play - Chase Seiffert, Roger Sloan, Henrik Norlander
Pat: Play - Chase Seiffert, KH Lee, Wesley Bryan,
AC: Play - James Hahn, Tom Lewis, Jamie Lovemark
My Hahn radar is tingling this week. He’s 29th in my model, has a T41 his last time out at Copperhead, and has two top 15 finishes in his last four starts. Lewis was pretty impressive at the Zurich last week and is 19th in my model. The ball striking numbers are top 30 in the field and the par 3 scoring is admirable. Lovemark has some great course history and just finished runner-up to Uihlein in Vegas two weeks ago.
THE INS & OUTS
Tyrrell Hatton (Covid), Brice Garnett (Covid), Will Gordon (Covid), Sepp Straka (Covid), Cameron Champ
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, JJ Spaun, Tim Wilkinson, Nelson Ledesma, Sebastian Cappelen (alternate)
Open qualifiers → @ValsparChamp
Brad Adamonis (bogey-free; 6 birdies)
Jordan Hahn (7 birdies, 1 bogey)
67 (-5; via 4-for-2 playoff)
Daniel Chopra (1 eagle, 5 birdies, 2 bogeys)
Michael Visacki (7 birdies, 1 double bogey)
- Field set at 156