Just because we’re playing with house money the rest of the season does not mean we can’t keep winning and padding the bankroll. I was hesitant to bet Scottie Scheffler at his odds, but that turned into a foolish error because he was utterly dominant at last week’s PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Scheffler was amazing. He put on a ball-striking clinic to blow away the field, despite losing strokes to the field in putting. Our two cashing tickets were Max Homa Top-10 and Tom Hoge Top-20. Hoge made the cut on the number at 2-over par, then shot a course-record 62 on Saturday. Those two wins brought us back to about even on the week, with the treacherous Valspar Championship next on the docket.
2023 Valspar Championship Odds, Picks & Predictions
(Odds Courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook is another tough Florida track near Tampa Bay. The par-71 stretches to over 7,300 yards, and the Valspar winner is often only single digits under par. Defending champion Sam Burns has won the last two in a row at 17-under par both in 2021 and 2022. The metrics that will be most heavily weighted in my statistical model will be Strokes Gained on Approach (SG: APP) and Par-4 Scoring, along with Bogey Avoidance and Good Drives Gained.
Holes 15, 16, & 17, known as “The Snake Pit,” are brutally difficult and often decide the winner on Sunday. To boil it all down, the winning golfer will stay out of trouble and set himself up for good approach shots with accurate drives.
The field this week is a tad lighter than was featured in the last two elevated events. It is still a very strong field with more legit contenders from the middle of the pack. Attacking the soft odds in that group will be paramount to profit this week. Here are the golfers who I will trust with my money at the Valspar Championship.
Out of all the favorites, only Justin Rose has been impressive with the key metrics in recent weeks. Burns is looking for a three-peat, but I really do not like his form this season. Rose already ended a years-long winning drought at Pebble Beach in early February and enters the Valspar looking sharp after his sixth-place finish at THE PLAYERS. He is fifth in this field in my model.
Coming in at 15th in my model and on a real heater during the Florida Swing is Justin Suh. He plays with great accuracy and matches well with the Copperhead course with his strong approach and putting metrics. I would shop around with his odds. 35-1 on DK is fine, but other books might have a more favorable line.
There haven’t been many golfers on Tour more consistent than Ben Griffin this season. He ranks sixth in my weighted model this week and has only one missed cut this calendar year. Part of the allure this week with Griffin is his ball striking and proximity. He can score with anyone in this field if he can hit a few more fairways. Griffin is a player on the verge of a breakthrough and this is the type of golf course where it will occur.
Pierceson Coody’s peers on the PGA Tour have been raving about his all-around game all season. The 23-year-old has made both cuts on the PGA Tour this season, most recently finishing tied for 14th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. There isn’t much data to glean from such a limited sample size, but Coody stands out as a red-hot golfer who I will bet more aggressively to finish in the top 20.
I love Akshay Bhatia’s game. His runner-up finish at the Puerto Rico Open a few weeks ago earned him a PGA Tour card. This will be his first official event as a Tour member, and he brings with him some scorching recent form. Although with a more limited amount of data, he models as my top golfer in this field. Bhatia might end up shedding more layers of clothing to hit shots out of trouble this week (check out his travails at the Honda Classic), but he has all the tools necessary to break through at the Valspar.
The golfer who triumphed over Bhatia to earn his first PGA Tour victory in Puerto Rico was none other than Colombian Nico Echavarria. He is a true flyer play at 300-1, but Echavarria is a birdie machine when he is on his game. He is an excellent putter and sports one of the best weekend scoring averages in the field, further outlining how dangerous he is if he can make the cut.
Total Units Played: 7.5
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