Valspar Championship preview and betting tips 2023
Updated: Mar 14
Valspar Championship Golf Tips
1.5pts ew Wyndham Clark 40/1 (8)
1pt ew Gary Woodland 45/1 (8)
1pt ew Aaron Rai 66/1 (8) - WITHDRAWN
0.5pt ew Austin Smotherman (8)
The Players Championship is over for another year and Scottie Scheffler returned to world number one with another win, by five shots over Tyrrell Hatton who shot a 65 yesterday. Scottie finished the week ranking inside the top-5 for Strokes Gained: Approach and was 1st for SG: Tee-to-Green. Scheffler and Rahm are really putting distance between themselves and the rest of the players this year and it looks quite certain we’ll see them both contending down the stretch at Augusta National in around 4 weeks' time.
The Florida swing comes to an end this week at the Copperhead Course which plays host to the Valspar Championship. The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort is a 7,340 yard tough par 71. It has been the host course since the year 2000 and every year plays as a proper test for the players. As expected, the field this week is nowhere near the standard that we had last week at TPC Sawgrass but some of the players teeing it up include Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Matt Fitzpatrick and Sam Burns. The story of last year was all about Sam Burns defending his title in a playoff against PGA Tour rookie Davis Riley with a winning score of -17, this was his third PGA Tour victory. Burns is going for three in a row at the Valspar this week.
Key Stats Analysis
Looking back at the previous Valspar renewals, it is absolutely imperative that your tee-to-green game is dialled in this week. Since 2015, the lowest the winner has ranked in the T2G statistic is 6th and two of the winners in Jordan Spieth and Paul Casey have topped the stat. Five of the last seven winners have ranked inside the top-10 on approach, Burns ranked third in approach last year. Five of the last seven winners also ranked inside the top-12 for greens in regulation (GIR) whereas when Spieth won in 2015, he ranked 70th in this stat and only hit 49 out of 72 greens. Solid iron play is absolutely vital all week at the Copperhead Course. Interesting to know that only two of the last seven winners have finished the tournament inside the top-10 for putting, not as essential this week.
Wyndham Clark 40/1
In a week where the prices really aren’t attractive I thought I’d go a bit further down the market for my picks and the first player in my team this week is Wyndham Clark at 40/1. Odds I thought were quite reasonable for a player who has improved a lot over the last twelve months or so. He’s almost into the world’s top 100 players in the rankings and hasn’t missed a cut since October playing some really solid golf along the way. Clark ranks inside the top-10 on approach out of anyone on Tour over the last 20 rounds which definitely will help this week if he can once again have another good week with his irons.
Gary Woodland 45/1
Next up is a former winner of this event a long while back and also the US Open winner in 2019 and that is of course Gary Woodland. As well as a win here back in 2011, he also has another top-10 finish here and a couple of top-30s. Woodland ranked inside the top-16 at Sawgrass for approach, off-the-tee and tee-to-green. He had a solid week with his long game but his putter really let him down - which has been the case a lot lately - ranking 75th in this category. If Woodland can just have one above-average week with his flatstick I’d be surprised if he isn’t up there come Sunday.
Aaron Rai 66/1
Englishman Aaron Rai is the next player in my portfolio who seems to be really enjoying his second full season on the PGA Tour. He finished inside the top-20 at the Players which definitely is one of his best finishes on Tour. If it wasn’t for a 75 yesterday, he would’ve finished inside the top-10. His long game seems to be really dialled in at the moment and as mentioned, it’s vital for the test this week. Rai is making his debut at the Valspar and debutants occasionally go well here, Davis Riley on debut last year lost in a playoff for example. I was relatively happy with quotes of 66/1 for an improving player week-to-week.
Austin Smotherman 200/1
I had to include a longshot in my staking plan this week and I ended with Austin Smotherman at 200/1. Smotherman finished 25th in the Valspar last year and he finished mid-pack at the Players last week, T35 to be exact. What was really encouraging was that he ranked inside the top-25 for approach and T2G in arguably the best field in golf. Admittedly before last week Smotherman wasn't enjoying the best of seasons but I have a feeling that his decent finish at Sawgrass can potentially kickstart his season.
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