The Florida swing concludes this week with the Valspar Championship. Since this tournament’s inception in 2000, the Copperhead Course (par 71, 7,340 yards) of the Innisbrook Resort located in Palm Harbor, Florida, has been the only home of this event. Last season, Sam Burns picked up the first PGA TOUR victory of his career at the Valspar, setting a new tournament record with a score of -17. The Florida swing presents many difficult courses, and the Copperhead Course is no exception. The fairways are extremely narrow and the rough is very penalizing. With 74 bunkers on site and water in play on half the holes, danger lurks around every corner, and the greens are tough to stick at a high rate. Plus, the Copperhead Course concludes with one of the most challenging three-hole stretches in golf, known as the “Snake Pit.”
At this tricky Florida track, finding the fairway and avoiding the rough is critical, making Copperhead a perfect example of a less than driver course. In fact, three of the past five Valspar champs have lost strokes OTT during their wins, showing you how OTT stats are rather irrelevant this week. Conversely, we need to be prioritizing players who are in encouraging form with their irons, given four of the past five golfers to walk away with a win at the Valspar have finished the week inside the top-seven in SG APP. Also, with the average GIR percentage at the Copperhead Course much lower than the average PGA TOUR venue, targeting golfers who are savvy around the green is a wise move. Prior to Burns last season, the two previous Valspar victors ended the event in the top-10 in SG ARG.
The Copperhead Course is untraditionally home to five par 3s, all of which are at least 195 yards in length. Being efficient on these holes will be essential to climbing the leaderboard, as we have seen three of the past five Valspar winners rank in the top-seven in SG on the par 3s at the Copperhead Course, with Adam Hadwin leading his field in the category back in 2017. Additionally, as the four easiest holes on the scorecard, scoring on the par 5s will also be pivotal. Including Burns a year ago, three of the past five golfers to come out victorious at the Copperhead Course have led their fields in SG on the par 5s. Finally, the greens at the Copperhead Course are TifEagle Bermuda grass overseeded with Poa Trivialis, which is the same type of putting surface the field faced this past week at TPC Sawgrass. Furthermore, we saw this specific green type last month at TPC Scottsdale for the WM Phoenix Open and targeting players who have had success on this rare surface is a sharp move this week.
With THE PLAYERS Championship extending to late Monday, expect many golfers who competed at TPC Sawgrass to withdraw from the Valspar this week. However, as of Tuesday morning, there are still many big names listed in the field, including nine of the top-20 ranked players in the world. This is a field of 144 golfers and per usual, there will be a top 65 and ties cutline following the first two rounds. Below, I present to you four of my favorite DraftKings values of the week, that cost less than $7.5K.
Patton Kizzire, $7,200
Kizzire survived the brutal conditions at TPC Sawgrass this past week, carding a very respectable T22, which is his best PLAYERS finish to date. This marked Kizzire’s eighth made cut in his past 10 starts, and the fourth consecutive event he has gained strokes with his irons. Kizzire was also brilliant on the TifEagle Bermuda greens at TPC Sawgrass, producing a whopping 7.8 strokes with his flat stick, ranking him fifth in SGP for the tournament.
This obviously bodes extremely well for Kizzire in his return to the Copperhead Course, where he has made three cuts in four career attempts at the par 71. Kizzire has the potential for a top-25 finish this week and is a worthwhile gamble for GPPs.
Matt Kuchar, $7,000
Kuchar’s resume at the Copperhead Course is undeniable, making him a tough value to overlook at this low of a cost. In 11 appearances at the par 71, Kuchar has made 10 cuts with seven of these finishes being top 20s.
The 43-year-old ranks third in this field in career strokes gained at the Copperhead Course and while Kuchar is coming off a MC at THE PLAYERS this last week, he did gain strokes on APP for the second time in his past three starts and only missed the weekend by one stroke. Kuchar should rebound with at least four rounds of golf this week and shouldn’t come with much ownership.
Pat Perez, $6,900
Perez knows how to navigate his way around the volatile Copperhead Course, making eight of 12 cuts for his career. Among these finishes is five top 30s, including a T29 just last season. Perez makes his return to Palm Harbor this week on the heels of a T33 at THE PLAYERS.
The veteran has now proceeded through the cut in five of his past six starts and ranks seventh in total birdies and fourth in SG on par 5s over his past 24 rounds. Perez is far too cheap for his chances of making the cut and has to be considered at this soft price tag.
Kramer Hickok, $6,500
Hickock owns a 2-for-2 record in terms of made cuts at the Copperhead Course and arrives in Palm Harbor fresh off an encouraging ball-striking performance at THE PLAYERS. For the week, the 29-year-old generated 4.8 strokes from T2G and 3.6 strokes on APP. Hickock lost 1.4 strokes on the greens, ultimately holding back to a T42 finish, but prior to this, the Texas product had amassed positive strokes with his putter in five of his previous seven starts.
If Hickock can bounce back with his flat stick and carry over some of last week’s momentum as a ball-striker, he should add another made cut to his Copperhead resume, which would be an immense return at his $6,500 salary.
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