Since 2007, the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., in the Tampa Bay area, has taken place during the PGA Tour’s Florida Swing in early or mid-March. Last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19, and this year’s edition marks the last of the Tour season’s tournaments to take place in the Sunshine State.
In the past, although the Valspar Championship is played at one of the most well-thought-of courses on Tour, especially by the players, its placement on the schedule hasn’t always been conducive to attracting a quality field. This season, the top two players in the world according to the Official World Golf Rankings, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, will be teeing it up.
Paul Casey, who won the event in 2018 and 2019, will be looking to join a select group of 10 PGA Tour players since World War II who have won the same tournament three times in a row. That list includes Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods, among others.
The Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort plays to a par-71 at about 7,430 yards, depending on the tee placement. Casey’s winning score in 2019 was an 8-under-par 276, and he shot 10-under 274 the year before.
Thomas, who has been idle since a tie for 21st at the Masters, is second in FedEx Cup points and is the favorite with odds of +900 in the Valspar.
Thomas, who has been idle since a tie for 21st at the Masters, is second in FedEx Cup points and is the favorite with odds of +900 in the Valspar. When he is in the field, Johnson is usually the favorite, but his recent play doesn’t justify it this week, as he finished in a tie for 13th two weeks ago at the Heritage in his home state of South Carolina.
Corey Conners is at +1400, followed by Patrick Reed at +1600 and Casey at +2000 to complete the top five. Among other players in the field is Bubba Watson at +6000, Phil Mickelson making a rare appearance in the event at +15000, and the 54-year-old captain of the American Ryder Cup team, Steve Stricker, who is at +9000.
Favorite Picks at the Valspar Championship
The betting favorites haven’t been very successful in winning golf tournaments this season, but Conners has been playing very good golf of late and is due to get his second Tour victory. The course, which rewards accuracy and shot-making, is a good fit for his skill set. The Canadian is coming off top 10 finishes in the Masters and at the Heritage.
With back-to-back victories at Innisbrook and four top 10 finishes on the season, Casey may be positioned to join that elite group of players and capture his third consecutive Valspar Championship. He missed the cut at the Heritage, even though he shot a 68 on Friday after a 74 in the first round.
Eventually, 2020 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Scottie Scheffler is due to break through and capture his first career Tour win. He is at +2800 odds and has certainly played well enough to get a victory, with four top 10 finishes and ranking 27th in the FedEx Cup standings.