Fantasy Golf Picks, Odds, and Predictions for the Valspar Championship
2018 Valspar Championship Fantasy Preview
Four years, seven months and (approximately) eleven days: that’s how long Phil Mickelson has had to wait to get his hands on a trophy.
There are three images of Lefty in Mexico that will be ingrained on the minds of everyone when the dust has settled on the WGC Championship event there this week: his head bizarrely photoshopped onto the head of a bumblebee in one homage made by his adoring fans, his scramble into the bushes to retrieve his ball on the eleventh after an errant tee shot, and, of course, that fist bump and embrace with brother Tim to confirm the 96-event wait for a win was over.
The victory came about on the first playoff hole after a surge of adrenaline from Justin Thomas caused his approach to fly over the green. Big Phil held his nerve to become the oldest WGC winner in history.
A word about Thomas though, who was level par at the halfway stage and available to back at Vegas odds of 600/1 in-running. He would have made a lot of people sweat after playing the final 36 holes in -16 to book his place in the playoff, including that incredible eagle on eighteen which once again confirmed he is a Sunday superstar. Making things happen during your final round – and grabbing trophies, rather than waiting for them to come to you – is a sign of a great champion, and you can expect Thomas to be heavily involved in the shake-up for the majors in 2018.
Adam Hadwin of Canada chips onto the green on the third hole during the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 3, 2018 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
With Phil and Bubba in form and winning of late, the hunt for the green jacket at Augusta just got a whole bunch more exciting.
We are just four or so weeks away from The Masters, with the countdown commencing at pace with this week’s Valspar Championship and continuing through the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the WGC Match Play and the Houston Open, before the great and the good descend on Georgia for the year’s first major.
Who will play their way into form at Palm Harbour this week?
Last Week’s Fantasy Results from the WGC Mexico Championship
Mark that three weeks in a row that we’ve successfully picked the winner on the European Tour! And with JT finishing second here in the States, we almost had both Top Tier picks in the winner circle last week.
Despite the second place finish by Thomas, he still racked up a solid amount of points for fantasy rosters along with two other picks (Casey and Noren) who finished in the Top 14.
Phil Mickelson shakes hand with Justin Thomas after winning the tournament on an play off hole during the final round of World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship at Club De Golf Chapultepec on… Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
As for the European Tour, it was our horse pick George Coetzee who dominated the field. In case you missed it, this is what our staff had to say about Coetzee:
If our insinuation that bomb-scramble-putt is the road to success this week, then we can’t really ask for much more from Coetzee, who offers power off the tee and a deft touch with the flat stick in hand in equal measure.
He’s a three-time European Tour winner – twice in South Africa and once in nearby Mauritius – and while he has that ability to reduce his backers to tears, the upside is that this is a genuine champion looking in the kind of form to break back into the winner’s circle.
Those predictions proved to be spot-on as we take home yet another fantasy winner across the pond!
2018 Valspar Championship Field
After the brief jaunt south of the border for the WGC event it’s back to American soil for the second leg of the Florida swing.
Making their way to Palm Harbour is a host of big names who were involved in the action in Mexico – Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and more, plus a couple who turned down the invite (Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson).
The defending champion, Adam Hadwin, is joined by a number of fellow former Valspar winners, including Phoenix Open champion Gary Woodland, Charl Schwartzel, Kevin Streelman, Luke Donald, Jim Furyk and Retief Goosen.
A number of players who showed well in Mexico – Louis Oosthuizen, Kyle Stanley, Tony Finau, Charley Hoffman – will be looking to back up their good work there.
Tiger Woods lines up his putt on the fourth green during the final round of the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa on February 25, 2018 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
This Week’s Course Preview
There has been a decent amount of investment in the Copperhead course at the Innisbrook resort of late, with some $4.5 million pumped into refurbishment work in 2015. Bunkers were moved closer to the greens, while the fairways and green surfaces were reseeded with various breeds of Bermuda.
This is a layout where the short, straight hitters come into their own. Measuring 7,340 yards for its Par 71, the fairways are of average width but lined with dense foliage and trees, and the parkland character does lend an aesthetic similarity to Chapultepec, our host last week.
A number of the fairways are dog-legged with water in play on five holes, and a stiff breeze tends to roll in off the Gulf.
The undulating fairways are bookended by small Bermuda greens, which take some holding. The sunny weather in Florida ensures these are rock hard, so a light touch on approach is key.
This is not a bomber’s course by any means, with the thick tree coverage meaning that most players will, at certain points, take irons off the tee – minimizing any advantage the long hitters tend to have. Hit your tee shots into the wrong parts of the fairway and you are going to find yourself blocked out….sometimes it’s better to leave your ball in the rough knowing that the angle of approach will be easier.
This is commonly regarded as a challenging stretch, and the level of difficulty is cranked up by the ‘Snake Pit’, which is Copperhead’s answer to the Bear Trap at PGA National.
Worst still this is the final three holes, so the nerve of any prospective champion will be thoroughly examined here on Sunday. The sixteenth is typically the toughest hole on the course, with water left and right and very little room to maneuver off the tee.
The seventeenth is a par 3 that plays a minimum of 215 yards, with bunkers and trees fringing the green. And the eighteenth, well, only 9% of attempts here ended in birdie or better last year. Uphill with trees left and bunkers right, the prospective champion will need to get their drive away safely here. The green slopes markedly from back to front, making that winning putt a rather difficult assignment.
A copperhead statue signifying the ‘Snake Pit’ portion of the course sits near the 16th tee during the final round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course on March 13, 2016… Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Weather Forecast for Palm Harbor, Florida
There is rain around in Palm Harbour this week, and naturally timing these downpours with your players’ tee times will be key this week.
First thing to note is that rain is forecast for Wednesday; that will soften the greens for the early starters on Thursday morning, and depending on the severity of the rain cut lead to the putting surfaces cutting up for the late starters.
Friday is a dry, sunny day according to the early forecast, with top temperatures of around 66 degrees and wind speeds of up to 8 mph.
Scattered showers is the theme on Saturday, with the bursts of wetness expected to move in during the afternoon. The winds could reach up to 11 mph here.
And Sunday….well, if the forecast is correct it could prove to be a hell of a day at what is already a tough enough assignment. The dreaded thunderstorms have been mooted, with the wind reaching a quite dramatic 17 mph!
Last Year’s Results from the Valspar Championship
Adam Hadwin hit the front here at the halfway point 12 months ago following a sublime round of 64, and the Canadian never looked back from there.
He led by one shot from Jim Herman, who opened with a fine 62 before failing to get going on Friday and carding an even par 71.
After 54 holes Hadwin had extended his lead to four, with the only player really applying any pressure being Patrick Cantlay, who compiled a round of 66 on moving day.
The serene progress that Hadwin had made lasted all the way until the sixteenth hole on Sunday, when the first hole of the Snake Pit gobbled up the Canadian and spat him out. A double-bogey six offered hope to Cantlay, Herman and Dominic Bozzelli, who were all chasing hard, but Hadwin showed tremendous character to par the last two holes and clinch his maiden PGA TOUR title.
Where to Play Fantasy Golf for the Valspar Championship this Week
The presence of some of world golf’s top names, as well as Tiger Woods, ensures that the DFS sites have rolled out slates this week that are every bit the equal of those that greeted the WGC-Mexico Championship. Good news for gamers!
- PGA $500k Dogleg: The Valspar has the feeling of a tournament where shrewd gamers will have a tangible advantage over those who don’t do their research, so plunging your funds into the big-paying contest – there’s $100k to the winner here – isn’t a bad idea.
- PGA $40k Albatross: To add to the sense that quality gamers will flourish this week, elevate your advantage by taking part in a single entry contest like this, with a top prize of $4k up for grabs.
This Week’s Fantasy Notes for the Valspar Championship
This is a fairly unique test on the PGA TOUR in this day and age, with bombers not gaining any advantage over the grinders whatsoever.
There are four Par 5s, despite the Par 71 total, but these are leveled out by the five Par 3s, and besides which the longer holes and not some kind of bomb off the tee and short iron in type affair; course management and shot placement are overwhelmingly more important.
The list of winners here at Copperhead is fairly revelatory. Adam Hadwin, John Senden and Kevin Streelman are not what we’d call prolific by any means, but all three have triumphed here since 2013. The other champions – Jordan Spieth and Charl Schwartzel – have both won here and at Augusta; more on that later.
But this is certainly a tournament where we can place our faith in shorter, straighter hitters, rather than the traditional big names who go about their business in a rather different fashion; a roll call of champions that also includes Luke Donald, Retief Goosen and Jim Furyk is testament to that.
Hadwin ranked second for Strokes Gained: Approach and fifth for SG: Tee to Green – confirmation that this is the archetypal ‘second shot layout’, and gamers should also note the switch from Poa Annua to Bermuda this week.
Remember that this is a tough test as well. Hadwin’s winning mark of -14 was the lowest here in quite some time, and that probably reflects the pureness of the re-seeded and up to speed greens. Even so, from tee-to-green it remains a tough test, with shot shaping and wily approach play essential.
For that reason, it does bring to mind two obviously correlating courses: Augusta National and Riviera. The former is lent weight by Spieth and Schwartzel, and without digging too deeply we also note that the likes of John Senden and Sean O’Hair have won at Copperhead and banked top-tens at Augusta.
And visually a lot of the sight lines from tee-to-green do have a Riviera-feel to them, with dense tree-lines and occasionally stark elevation changes.
The wind can get up too, and with water in play substantially on five holes – and lest we forget the complexity of the Snake Pit – drafting players who can pick their way around the layout will be the key to success this week.
Our Top 5 (and Top 2 Sleeper) Fantasy Picks and Odds to Win the Valspar Championship
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Fantasy Golf Predictions This Season (2017-2018)
Total Top 3s
Total Top 10s
Total Top 25s
Total Winners Picked
Total Runners-Up Picked
Total Made Cuts (Includes Sleepers)
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