The tour is moving onto Palm Harbour, FL and teeing up at the Valspar Championship which is played at Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort, Copperhead Course. This is home to the Snake Pit, which is the final three holes here and one of the hardest three hole finishes in golf. This tournament usually has a winner around that -10 under mark. This is a challenging course that features water, hard par 3’s, and small Bermuda greens. Almost every year, even par here will get you to the cut mark.
- Thursday March 21st: 2:00 PM CST – 5:00 PM CST on Golf Channel
- Friday March 22nd: 2:00 PM CST – 5:00 PM CST on Golf Channel
- Saturday March 23rd: 12:00 PM CST – 2:00 PM CST on Golf Channel
- Saturday March 23rd: 2:00 PM CST – 5:00 PM CST on NBC
- Sunday March 24th: 12:00 PM CST – 2:00 PM CST on Golf Channel
- Sunday March 24th: 2:00 PM CST – 5:00 PM CST on NBC
Whose Teeing Off
Although we just had The Players last week, the WGC Match Play is next week, and the Masters two weeks after that, we still have some big names playing here. Jason Day, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson, John Rahm, Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson, and Patrick Reed will all be teeing up on Thursday.
These are big names for this tournament this year. Usually there are a few big names but with the schedule changes, many more names are here. My guess is a lot more guys will be taking off the Valero Texas Open before the Masters.
Paul Casey took the win here last year after not playing here since 2014. That will be important shortly as there are some big names who have either never played here, or haven’t played here in a few years. Here’s the winners here going back the past 5 years
- 2018: Paul Casey (-10)
- 2017: Adam Hadwin (-14)
- 2016: Charl Schwartzel (-7)
- 2015: Jordan Speith (-10)
- 2014: John Senden (-7)
Here’s some guys who have finished in the top 10 multiple times at the tournament here:
- Sergio Garcia (2018, 2013)
- Patrick Reed (2018, 2016, 2015)
- Gary Woodland (2014, won in 2011)
- Webb Simpson (2018, 2012, 2011)
- Jim Furyk (2018, 2013, 2012, won in 2010)
- Jason Kokrak (2018, 2015)
- Henrik Stenson (2017, 2015)
- Ryan Moore (2016, 2015)
- Charl Schwartzel (2017, won in 2016)
- Kevin Na (2015, 2014, 2009)
- Kevin Streelman (2013, 2012)
- Steve Stricker (2016, 2010, 2009)
- Luke Donald (2014, 2013, won in 2012, 2010)
- Harris English (2015, 2013)
I also mentioned some guys who haven’t played here at all, or in a long time. Dustin Johnson hasn’t played here since 2010 where he missed the cut. Jason Day hasn’t played here since 2013, although Sergio took 4th last year that was the first time he played here since 2013 also. Jon Rahm is making his first appearance here along with Tyrrell Hatton.
Innisbrook is a Par 71 at 7,300 yards. The course was designed in 1972 by Lawrence Packard and had a few upgrades in 1999 and 2015. It is a pretty unique setup in that there are five Par 3’s with the normal four Par 5’s. So having said that, Par 3 scoring is a big stat to keep track of here. Although the Par 5’s have good scoring marks on them, the greens are very small and two of them are the lowest ranked in green in regulation rate. Water is in play here on six holes, although if you hit it in the water on hole #2 you probably really gave it a shank. This course also features a lot of dog leg shaped holes, much like the Arnold Palmer invitational.
Although there are five Par 3’s, the longest of them is at 232 yards. The Par 5’s feature one at 607 yards and another at 590, so two pretty long Par 5’s. The ending of this course is wonderful. Although the Snake Pit is a very hard finish, the back nine features four Par 4’s, three Par 3’s, and two Par 5’s. Let’s take a look at the Snake Pit and another hole below. They also have fantastic YouTube videos that go over each hole, so less work for me. Enjoy.
Hole #1: 560 Yard Par 5
Hole #16 “Moccasin”: 458 Yard Par 4
Hole #17 “The Rattler”: 206 Yard Par 3
Hole #18 “The Copperhead”: 443 Yard Par 4
One & Done Pick: Were going with Webb Simpson (+2000) this week. He’s had a few top 10 finishes here and played well last week defending his Players Championship. Some stats I like with Simpson. In 12 rounds this year on Bermuda greens Simpson ranks first in strokes gained approach, second in total strokes gained and tee to green, and fourth in strokes gained ball striking. He’s also top 40 in Par 3 efficiency from 200-225 yards. We have three of those here, For me he checks all the boxes for a one and done pick: he’s played well here, played well the past few weeks, his statistics line up well with course, and I don’t think he’s a huge name to get rid of at smaller tournament.
Betting Winners: Gary Woodland (+2200), Jason Kokrak (+4500), Branden Grace (+7000)
Woodland has been hot all year, he’s made 12 of 12 cuts and has scored seven top 10s. He won here in 2011 and finished 8th in 2014. Par 3 scoring he sits at 16th in Strokes Gained and dudes top 5 in Strokes Gained Total, Tee to Green, Off the Tee, and Ball Striking. Jason Kokrak is also a perfect 10 for 10 on cuts with two top 10’s. He finished 8th here last year, 7th in 2015, and 14th in 2014. Ranked 36th in Strokes Gained on Par 3’s, Strokes Gained Approach he’s at 7th and 6th in Ball Striking. Branden Grace has good Par 3 stats, he ranks second in strokes gained. Strokes Gained Approach he’s at 13th, 14th in Around the Green, and Ball Striking 16th.
Top 5: Chez Reavie (+1600), Max Homa (+3300), Charl Schwartzel (+1600)
Chez checks all the boxes here for strokes gained. First in Stroke Gained Tee to Green and Ball Striking. Second in Strokes Gained Total and Approach. He’s also top 20 in Strokes Gained Short Game, Off the Tee, and Around the Green. Statistically he is a phenomenal bet. Homa has good stats in two of the above that should be very important here: he’s 14th in Strokes Gained Approach, and 27th in Ball Striking. Homa is also ranked #1 in Strokes Gained on Par 3’s and we have five of them here. Schwartzel has finished top 10 here in two of the past three years including a win in 2016.
Top 10: Jason Dufner (+1400), Sepp Straka (+2000), Steve Stricker (+1000)
Dufner has finished top 15 here three different times. Although he missed the cut last year, he’s a good long shot to hit the top 10 that has a good track record. Sepp Straka has never played here, but he’s ranked 5th this week in Strokes Gained Approach, so we’ll take a flyer on him. Sticker has played here four times since 2009, he’s missed the cut just once in 2017 but finished 12th, 7th, 8th, and 4th.
- Bud Cauley
- Branden Grace
- Jason Kokrak
- Chez Reavie
- Webb Simpson
- Brandt Snedeker
One & Done History: Well I said last week I was guaranteed a top 10 finish and I wasn’t wrong. Which means this week, my guy will be missing the cut or getting 40th or worst as is tradition. Jason Day was in the second last pair on Sunday with Rory but just couldn’t find any consistency. He gave us hope but I’ll take the six figure pay day. Let’s hope to finish better than 40th this week.
- Waste Management Open: Matt Kuchar – $293,467 (T4)
- Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Shane Lowry – $0.00 (Missed Cut)
- Genesis Open: Hideki Matsuyama – $177,600 (T9)
- WGC-Mexico: Jon Rahm –$65,000 (T45)
- The Honda Classic: Sergio Garcia – $183,700 (T9)
- Arnold Palmer Invitational: Rickie Fowler – $35,490,000 (T40)
- The Players: Jason Day –$350,000 (T8)
- The Valspar Championship – Webb Simpson –