The Valspar Championship will take place at the Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead course in Palm Harbor, Florida, after its cancellation in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The two time defending champion is Paul Casey, who won in 2018 and 2019 and will be looking to be only the 11th player since World War II to win the same PGA tournament three or more years in a row.
Since 2007, the Valspar Championship has been held closer to the beginning of the PGA Tour’s Florida Swing, but this year the schedule placed it as the final event of the season to take place in the Sunshine State. The Copperhead course, home to the finishing three holes known as “The Snake Pit”, is played as a par 71 of just over 7,400 yards and is widely regarded among Tour players as a good and fair test of golf.
Usually, the placement on the schedule has made it difficult for the tournament to attract many of the top players in the game, but this week the top two in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) will be in attendance. Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas are both in the field this week, looking to tune their games for the upcoming PGA Championship in May.
Last week’s Zurich Classic, the only team event on the PGA Tour, ended in a playoff with Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman winning on the first hole of sudden death over the team Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. The winners are not entered at Innisbrook, but both members of the runner up team are in the field.
Paul Casey comes in at +2000 to get the three-peat at the Valspar Championship.
Generally, Dustin Johnson is the betting favorite when he’s playing, but his game hasn’t been particularly sharp, so Thomas is leading the futures odds at +900. The number two player in both the OWGR and the FedEx Cup standings last played in the Masters, where he finished in a tie for 21st.
After a homophobic slur was picked up microphones at the Sentry Tournament of Champions where Thomas finished third, he was roundly criticized, lost sponsorship, and his game suffered. He finally emerged from the tough stretch with a victory at The Players Championship, his 14th career win.
Johnson has odds of +1000 but has cooled off after a torrid start to the 2020-2021 season, which included a win at the Masters in November and three other top ten finishes. His follow-up appearance at Augusta National resulted in a missed cut, and he is coming off a tie for 13th at the Heritage a couple of weeks ago in his native state of South Carolina.
Corey Conners has finished in the top ten in four of his last six starts, including a tie for eighth at the Masters and a tie for fourth a week later at the Heritage. At +1400, he is a good choice to pick up his second Tour title and currently sits at 15th in the FedEx Cup point standings.
Patrick Reed is at +1600 in the odds, followed by Casey, who is at +2000 to get the three-peat at the Valspar. Fifty-year-old Phil Mickelson is making a rare appearance in the Tampa Bay area but is far down the odds list at +15000.