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DraftKings DFS Fantasy Golf Cheat Sheet: 2022 PGA TOUR Valspar Championship Picks

Geoff Ulrich gets you set for the Valspar Championship with winning trends and his picks for your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups.

The Cheat Sheet provides DraftKings fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.


The Field

The Valspar Championship returns to its regular March date in 2022, a year after being played last season in May. The event has quickly become one of the more underrated on the PGA TOUR, as the blend of nice Florida weather and a great venue has started to attract the attention of bigger names. This year’s field has continued to see a surge of talent as Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson are all in the field—as of writing. Obviously, the five-day-long PLAYERS Championship from last week means we could have some late withdraws heading into Wednesday, but for now, the field is set at 144 players with 20 of the world’s top-50 golfers in the OWGR in attendance.

Past champions in the field this week include Paul Casey (2018-2019), Gary Woodland (2011) and Sam Burns (2021). Burns won this event at 17-under par last year but conditions could be tougher this season given the move back to March. The cut will take place after Friday’s round and the top-65 and ties will play the weekend.


Set your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups here: PGA TOUR $1M Pitch + Putt [$250K to 1st]



The Course

Copperhead Course, Innisbrook Golf Resort—Palm Harbour, Florida

Par 71, 7,340 yards

Copperhead has hosted this event since its inception in 2000. It underwent a date change in 2007 and this venue has tended to play tougher since then, hence looking at course history before 2007 isn’t super useful. The other thing to note this week is that the course underwent huge renovations of greens, fairways and some bunkers after 2015. While the design of the course didn’t change much (if at all), the changes toughened up an already hard track. Three of the last seven years have featured winning scores in the single-digit range, and in 2019 it played as the sixth-toughest course on TOUR, with a scoring average of 71.968. Last season saw easier scoring but expect tougher conditions again this year, especially with the recent cold snap in Florida.

Copperhead is unique in that it’s a par 71 but features five (yes, five) par 3s and four par 5s. Birdies can be had on the par 5s, but the majority of them are anything but pushovers and require three good shots to even sniff a birdie putt. The course itself isn’t brutally long but plays longer than its yardage due to the number of doglegs and thicker rough. Long iron approaches this week will be plentiful with the two most popular approach baskets being between 175-200 yards and 200+ yards. This almost always means more missed greens in regulation than normal as well and we often see GIR% at this event trend 5-10% lower than the PGA TOUR average. On top of the tighter fairways and trees making life tough, water is also a big factor here and comes into play on 11 of the 18 holes.

The greens at Copperhead are Bermuda and have played relatively firm and fast the past few years. It’s also interesting to note that since the green changes two of the past three winners have had little to no success on the old greens prior to their wins—a trend that perhaps downplays the idea of relying on course history much this week. One final note, Copperhead also features its own brutally hard signature finishing stretch, “The Snake Pit,” which consists of two long, winding par 4s and a hard-to-hit par 3. These three holes almost always play well over par for the week.

2022 Outlook: Thankfully, it looks like we won’t have the same weather issues that plagued the event last week. There is some rain and T-Storms in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday, which could hamper preparations, but Thursday and Friday both have almost no sign of rain and highs in the mid-70F range. The course should firm up as the week goes on and winds aren’t expected to be much of a factor—with gusts staying at or below 10 mph the first two days as well. Saturday has a small chance of rain but no storms. This course is more protected and inland than the previous Florida venues so expect the venue to firm up as the week progresses and play to its usual standards as a tough, but fair, tee to green test.


Last 5 winners

2021—Sam Burns -17 (over Keegan Bradley -14)

2019 — Paul Casey -8 (over Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Kokrak -7)

2018 — Paul Casey -10 (over Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed -9)

2017 — Adam Hadwin -14 (over Patrick Cantlay -13)

2016 — Charl Schwartzel -7 (over Bill Haas -6)


Winning Trends

— Each of the past eight winners of the Valspar Championship had recorded at least one top 10 on the season before their victory here (Sam Burns had posted a T3 at the Genesis prior to winning in 2021).

— Three of the past four winners had already been in a Sunday Final group pairing at some point that calendar year prior to their win at the Valspar.

— Two of the past five winners had never made the cut at Copperhead/the Valspar before winning the trophy here.


Winners Stats and Course Overview

Sam Burns (17-under-par—2019)

2021 lead-in form (MC-T3-T25-T2-MC)

SG: OTT — +2.3

SG: APP — +3.7

SG: TTG — +7.6

SG: ATG — +1.6

SG: PUTT — +9.1

  • Last year Burns won behind some very solid Tee to Green play and an extremely hot putter.
  • Burns had played Valspar twice prior and had gained over +6.0 strokes putting on each of those previous starts.
  • Outside of strong Bermuda putting splits, the main indicator this week though should be strong tee to green metrics. The last three winners have all gained over +3.0 strokes in three different strokes gained metrics.
  • Long iron proximity is also of vital importance as Copperhead has plenty of winding, longer holes that will require players to shape the ball and hit from 175 yards out.

Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value compared to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.

Sam Burns +1800 and $9,600

Comparables:

  • Dustin Johnson +1800 and $10,200
  • Shane Lowry +3000 and $9,700
  • Tyrrell Hatton +2500 and $9,800

Christiaan Bezuidenhout +6500 and $7,900

Comparables:

  • Webb Simpson +7000 and $8,300
  • Russell Knox +7000 and $8,100
  • Gary Woodland +7000 and $8,500

All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.


HORSES FOR COURSES

1. Paul Casey (best finishes: win-2019 and 2018): Casey was the winner here in 2018 and 2019. He gained +4.6 and 5.4 strokes on approaches in each of those events, while also gaining multiple strokes around the greens. Last year he gained +5.8 strokes on Approach but had a poor week putting or would have been in contention again.

2. Jason Kokrak (best finishes: T2-2019, T8-2018): Kokrak has played this venue seven times in the past and carries five top-15 finishes at this event. He was in contention late in 2019 when he gained +5.1 strokes on the greens for the week, but eventually lost out to Casey. Of note is the fact that in eight appearances, he’s never lost strokes on Approach at this venue.

3. Louis Oosthuizen (best finishes: T2-2019, T8-2020): The South African has played this event each of the past three years it’s been on the schedule. He leads the field in strokes gained total stats at this venue, has produced top-10 finishes at this event the last two years it has been played, and has gained +4.0 strokes or more putting the last two years as well.

4. Abraham Ancer (best finishes T6-2021): Ancer has only played this event twice, but his results do speak to how well suited he is for this type of venue. Ancer has finished inside the top-20 on both visits and gained over +9.0 strokes putting on the Copperhead greens last season. He also posted a runner-up finish at Quail Hollow last year (a course that has a lot of correlations to Copperhead).

5. Sam Burns (best finishes: win-2021): Burns has only played this event three times, but the affinity he has for this layout and the greens is evident. He’s gained over +2.0 strokes Off the Tee at this venue the last two times he’s played it, and as noted above, has dominated on the greens. Coming off a couple of good showings, don’t be shocked if he competes for the win again.


Recent Form

1. Viktor Hovland ($10,800; T9-T2): Hovland is absolutely striping it at the moment. He’s gained over +8.0 strokes ball-striking in his last two outings and has finished top-10 in three straight events. If he can improve the short game a bit it will be lights out for the rest of the TOUR soon.

2. Keegan Bradley ($8,400; T6-T11): Bradley continued to show improved form last week, landing a T6 that could have been much better if not for a poorly played final two holes. He’s made six cuts in a row and looks sharp right now

3. Alex Noren ($8,700; T26-T5): Noren couldn’t get into gear on the greens last week but he was solid all-around and posted a T26, his fifth made cut in a row. He’s now gained strokes on Approach in five straight events as well.

4. Russell Knox ($8,100; T6-T55): Knox recorded his fifth-straight made cut last week. He’s now gained +1.0 strokes or more on his approaches in seven of his last eight starts on the PGA TOUR. He’s making cuts again on the regular, making him a dangerous dark-horse in these tougher courses.


DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY

Cash Games: Noren and Fitzpatrick solid building blocks

We can debate who to pay up for this week (more on that below), but for cash game purposes, the prices we’re getting on Matt Fitzpatrick ($9,000) and Alex Noren ($8,700) look solid enough to start with as value options. Noren has made the cut in five straight events and has improved his Approach game to the point where he’s gained +5.0 strokes or more on Approach in his last two starts. Fitzpatrick missed the cut last week but was on the poor end of the draw and really only suffered from a poor putting performance, a rarity from him. He’s already grabbed three top-10s this year and looks like a prime bounce-back candidate and great value at $9K-flat in this weaker field. Other targets for this format include Martin Laird ($7,200 - see below), Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,900) and Joel Dahmen ($7,100).

Tournaments: Hatton a good tournament pivot

Tyrrell Hatton ($9,800) is still priced up near the $10K mark this week but may not have a ton of ownership in big fields given some of the quality players in the low $10K-range and low $9K-range. This kind of dead zone will likely open up a good opportunity to use Hatton, who has great proximity stats on his long irons and hasn’t finished worse than T13 in his last four starts in 2022. Further down, I also like the prospects of Aaron Wise ($7,700) this week, who has been smashing the ball of late in the long game but hasn’t found much luck with the putter. Wise can spike any week with that club though and looks like a perfect upside play at $7,700. Other potential GPP targets for this week include the likes of Doc Redman ($7,400), Martin Kaymer ($6,800) and Matthias Schwab ($7,300).


MY PICK: Justin Thomas ($11,000)

Thomas has gone over a full season since grabbing a win on the PGA TOUR and I’m sure that fact will not be lost on the now 14-time PGA TOUR winner. Thomas hasn’t closed in a long time (by his standards) but he’s not playing poorly. Five starts on the PGA TOUR in 2022 have already yielded three top-10 finishes and zero missed cuts. His T33 last week at the PLAYERS would have looked a lot better if not for his late water-ball on 17 and he still ended the week gaining over +2.0 strokes on Approach and Off the Tee for the week.

Thomas’ around the green game can often be what sets him apart from some of the other top players and he’s been in fine form in that regard lately, which should help him around Copperhead’s notoriously hard-to-hit greens. He’s played some of his best golf at longer par 71s—similar to this week’s layout—grabbing a win at Quail Hollow in 2017 and multiple top-10 finishes at Riviera as well. This will be his fifth time playing Copperhead and he’s produced three top-20 results. Thomas is too quality a player to stay off the scoresheet for much longer and his play of late suggests he’s ready for this kind of test. He’s a solid way to start lineups and may not be heavily owned given some of the talent underneath him.


MY SLEEPER: Martin Laird ($7,200)

If putting were not a part of the game, then Martin Laird would likely have already racked up a couple of top-10s on the year. That’s generally how well the Scotsman has hit the ball over the past month or so and it’s something to key on this week as we have another tough tee to green test to deal with. Laird has now gained over +1.0 strokes on Approach in seven of his last eight PGA TOUR starts and also ranks in the top-15 in proximity over the last 50 rounds from 150-175, 175-200 and 200+ yards. That’s important as Copperhead features plenty of longer par 4s and par 3s that force players into longer iron shots.

Obviously, we’ll need Laird to make a few putts, but it’s hard to see him doing worse than the -6.4 strokes putting he lost at the PLAYERS last week. The fact he didn’t have to stick around on the weekend is likely a bonus for us this week too as he’ll have had extra time to get comfortable on the greens at Copperhead. Laird had made four cuts in a row prior to his early PLAYERS exit and seems like a good bounce-back candidate this week at a venue that should reward good long iron play.

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