8 selects our expert loves at Innisbrook
Welcome to our weekly PGA Tour Gambling Tips column, featuring recommendations from GOLF.com’s Prognostics Expert, Brady Kannon. You can follow Kannon on Twitter at @LasVegasGolfer and you can read below to see his favorite games for the Valspar Championship, which begins Thursday at the Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla. Keep scrolling past Kannon’s picks, and you’ll also find data from Chirp, a free-to-play mobile platform – and partner of GOLF.com – that offers a range of games with tempting prizes and offers fans all sorts of ways to get in on the action without risking any money.
A four-week Florida stretch concludes this week at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Golf Course, home of the Valspar Championship since 2000.
Although the Masters is less than a month away, the Copperhead is more of a US Open tune-up of sorts than a preparation for Augusta National. It’s a narrow and challenging par 71 course that stretches for more than 7,300 yards. Contrary to what we’ve seen over the past three weeks, it’s also tree-lined and heavily hilly, with far fewer water hazards than what the pros encountered at their other stops in Florida. However, like TPC Sawgrass, the Copperhead Course favors proper positioning off the tee more than distance. Scrambling and putting will also be important.
This is a grinder course. To bolster the US Open reference, we saw two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen win the Valspar twice. Gary Woodland and Jordan Spieth are both past winners here, and last year’s US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick finished 5th at the 2022 Valspar.
The specific skills I looked at this week were approach with shots won, shots won around the green, scrambling, and putting with shots won (Bermuda grass). Off the tee I watched Good Drives Gained, Fairways Gained, and Total Driving. The Copperhead course has nine par 4s, four par 5s and five par 3s – averaging over 200 yards in length – so I considered performance on par 3s from 200-225 yards. I also relied heavily on par 5 scoring as these four holes are the easiest on the golf course. The players have to use them. Note that winds are also expected to get in the 15-20 mph range from Friday through Sunday this week.
The correlated courses I used this week were Sea Island, home of the RSM Classic, TPC Twin Cities, home of the 3M Open, and Muirfield Village, where they play the Memorial. It’s also worth noting that the Valspar has a strong price history, meaning players who do well here usually do so repeatedly. I mentioned that Goosen won twice here. Sam Burns is the two-time defending champion and before Burns, Paul Casey won this tournament two years in a row. Players who have had multiple top-20 finishes in this championship are ball forwards, excelling on approach shots and in charge from the tee.
To win the Valspar Championship (and finish in the top 20)
Note that if you were following at The Players Championship last week, five of our six selections made top 20 finishes.
Justin Rose (22-1)
Rose is in quite a season. He won at Pebble Beach in February and finished sixth at Sawgrass last week. He was also 29th at the RSM in November. Before Pebble, there was talk of Rose being on a mission to make the 2023 Ryder Cup team. So far, so good. He has moved up to 7th in the world points list for Team Europe. During his career, Rose has finished in the top 10 three times, top 15 twice and top 25 twice at the Valspar. He also has seven top 10 finishes at Memorial, including one win. In that field over the past 36 rounds, Rose has finished 20th on SG Approach, 4th on 175-200 yards near the hole, 10th on Good Drives Gained, and 26th on SG Par 5. I have seen his odds as low as 18-1. I agree with 22-1 or better. Oh, and did I mention? He is also a former US Open champion.
Adam Hadwin (26-1)
Hadwin has a 13thrank at The Players and is a previous winner at the Valspar. He has 4th and 6th places at the 3M Open and 18th and 11th at the Memorial. He is very accurate from the tee and has a great short game. In that field over the past 36 rounds, Hadwin has finished 6th on SG Approach, 10th on SG Par 5s, and 36th on SG Around the Green. If we’re looking for that grind, efficient, accurate, and plodding type of player, then Hadwin is for you.
Wyndham Clark (41-1)
Clark is a bomber with a deft touch on the greens, a combination we don’t always see. In his last 36 rounds, he’s #1 in that field for SG Par 5s, 19th in Scrambling, and 11th in SG Around the Green. Clark hasn’t missed a cut since October – a stretch that includes a 10th place finish at the RSM Classic. He finished respectably at The Players (27th) where he finished 10th in the field for Scrambling and 4th for SG Off the Tee. Against a much weaker field than in the previous week, he was able to rise to the top.
Denny McCarthy (41-1)
Like Hadwin, McCarthy finished 13th last week and also owns one of the best short games on the circuit. He is 3rd on tour putting from the inside 10ft, 1st in scrambling out of the rough, 12th in scrambling overall and 25th in SG putting. He placed 9th at the Valspar, has two top 10 finishes at the RSM and a 5th at the Memorial. His ball strike can be iffy, but last week at The Players, McCarthy placed 13th in the field for SG Off the Tee and 24th on Greens in Regulation.
Taylor Moore (60-1)
Moore is another player who had a solid performance last week, finishing 35th on The Players. His two starts at the Florida Swing, at Bay Hill and at Sawgrass, earned him top 40 finishes. Now we’re moving from an “elevated” field to a much more watered-down one: a good opportunity to climb up the leaderboard. Moore can be a bit unpredictable off the tee, but he finished 44th in the driving accuracy field last week. He’s 17th on the tour in scrambling, 41st in SG putting, and in his last 36 rounds he’s ranked second in that field for hole proximity from 175-200 yards.
Robby Shelton (90-1)
Shelton is the only player we’re on this week who missed the cut last week, but it’s interesting to note that of the top 11 finishers at Valspar last year, five missed the cut the week before. As much as I search for good form, it seems that a recently missed cut isn’t always a spoiler. Shelton was 39th at Bay Hill two weeks ago and 21st at the Honda Classic opening Florida Swing. He also did very well on two of the competition courses, finishing 10th at the RSM Classic and 3rd at the 3M Open. Over the last 36 laps, Shelton finished 7th on SG Approach and 3rd on SG Around the Green in that field.
Alex Smalley (100-1)
Smalley did very well at TPC Sawgrass last week, but the putter let him down; He lost more than 2.5 strokes to the field with the flat stick. He placed 9th in SG Off the Tee, 31st in Driving Accuracy and 13th in Driving Distance and 28th in Scrambling Field. Smalley also finished fifth at the RSM four months ago. He’s been very stable in the stats we’ve been looking at this week, ranking within the top 35 to top 55 of the field in the relevant categories over the past 36 laps. In the last eight rounds of both the PGA and DP World Tour, Smalley has finished in the top 25 for SG Tee to Green and SG Off the Tee in that field. When the short game comes up this week, 100-1 is going to look terribly pompous.
Full Tournament Head-to-Head Matchups (Season Record: 13-7-1)
Robby Shelton (+100) over Tyler Duncan
Taylor Moore (-120) over Ben Griffin
Lee Hodges (-110) on Webb Simpson
Whoever thinks of the Chirp users will win
Justin Thomas – 33.35%
Jordan Spieth – 28.50%
Matt Fitzpatrick – 10.01%
Download the free to play Chirp app here to join the fun.
https://golf.com/news/valspar-championship-betting-guide-8-picks/ 8 selects our expert loves at Innisbrook