After the team formatted Zurich Classic, we get back to standard stroke play this week at the Valspar Championship. Since the tournament’s origin in 2000, the Copperhead Course (par 71, 7,340 yards) of the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida, has hosted this event. Last year’s edition was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Paul Casey is the two-time defending champ. Annually, the Copperhead Course plays as one of the most difficult tracks on the PGA TOUR schedule. The fairways and greens are difficult to hit, the rough is penalizing, and the track is littered with bunkers. Only six of the 18 holes yielded average scores under par, and the final three holes, aka the Snake Pit, is notoriously known as one of the most difficult three-hole stretches in professional golf.
This week, most players will use less than driver to avoid trouble at the Copperhead Course, and off-the-tee stats are essentially irrelevant. However, strong ball striking and approach play is obviously needed to succeed at this par 71. Across the last five Valspars, every winner has ranked inside the top-five in SGT2G and T12 or better in SG APP. Additionally, being crafty around the greens has been crucial. For his back-to-back Valspar wins, Casey ranked 3rd in SG ATG in 2018 and then T11 in 2019. Speaking of Casey, who has never been known for his putting, his success at this course is clear evidence that we shouldn’t be paying much attention to putting stats this week.
Copperhead is a rare par 71 that features the usual four par fives, but also five par threes. Four of these par threes rank inside the nine most difficult holes at the course, and scoring on these holes is crucial, with four of the past five champs finishing T12 or better in SG on the par threes. Furthermore, while we always need to factor par four efficiency into our models, par five scoring has been more important at Copperhead. Casey led his field in SG on these four par fives in 2019, and he was the fourth Valspar winner since 2015 to rank in the top-four in SG on these holes. Including the top two ranked golfers in the world, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, eight of the world’s top-20 will be appearing at the 2021 Valspar, and following the first 36 holes, there will be a normal top-65 and ties cut line. So without further ado, below I give you four of my favorite cheap DraftKings options to attack this week for the Valspar Championship.
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Doug Ghim, $7,300
Two-time defending champion Paul Casey and Ghim have very similar games. The two are both top notch ball strikers who struggle on the greens. Despite not gaining strokes with his flat stick in five straight individual starts, Ghim has advanced to the weekend at four of these five events. In his Zurich Classic debut last weekend, Ghim was paired with Justin Suh, and the duo finished T11th at TPC Louisiana. For the season, Ghim is 13 for 17 in made cuts with seven top 25s, and his ball striking has been terrific, ranking 12th in SGT2G and 10th in SG APP over his last 12 rounds.
Since the start of the 2021 season, the former Texas Longhorn has moved up a whopping 280 spots in the world golf rankings, and Ghim’s superb tee-to-green game should translate to at least a made cut in his Valspar debut.
Brandt Snedeker, $7,300
While Snedeker’s season has been underwhelming as a whole, his game appears to be trending in the right direction just in time for a date with the Copperhead. At the Zurich Classic, he and Keith Mitchell were in the hunt for a win come Sunday afternoon, and in the end finished T4th at the team-styled event. Prior to this, Snedeker had made it to the weekend in three of his past four solo starts, including a T6 at the Texas Open. In his most recent two events, Snedeker has produced 5.1 ST2G, good enough to rank 17th in the stat when we compare all of these golfer’s last eight individual rounds.
All in all, these are very encouraging signs for Snedeker, and his success at the Valspar should continue in this positive form. Snedeker is nine for ten in made cuts at the grueling Copperhead, finishing T31 or better five times.
Danny Willett, $7,200
If we include his work overseas, Willett has been competing on the weekend at eight of his past ten stroke play events. After carding a T18 at the Heritage two weeks ago, the 2016 Masters champ and Tyrrell Hatton flourished together at the Zurich Classic, posting a T8 finish.
Willett now travels to the Innisbrook Resort, where he holds a 2/2 record at the Copperhead Course, recording a T22 in 2016 and a T42 in 2019. Missing back-to-back cuts before that finish two years ago, Willett is in far better form this time around, and I fully expect him to come with single-digit ownership in DraftKings GPPs.
Chase Seiffert, $6,600
Seiffert and Matthew NeSmith were sent home early at the Zurich Classic, but by no means should we let this team missed cut hold us back from rostering Seiffert at this low of a price. When on his own, the 29-year-old has made seven of his past eight cuts, with four top-20s. The last time Seiffert teed it up in Florida was at the Honda Classic, where he carded a T3 at the demanding PGA National.
This track presents very similar challenges, and while we can’t expect this type of result in his Valspar debut, a top-30 isn’t out of the question for Seiffert, which would be an outstanding return at his cheap salary.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Hunta512) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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