The Valspar Championship 2023
We got one week left in Florida in this current FL-swing and it’s for the Valspar Championship – a tournament that has been played since 2000. We will once again see 144 players competing this week, and the top 65 plus ties after round 2 will get to play round 3 on Saturday and round 4 on Sunday.
There $8.1M to be won this week, the winner takes home $1.458M and also collects 500 FedEx Cup points. Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club (Copperhead Course) is 7,340 yards in length, is a par 71, and the greens are poa trivialis OS. The average winning score at this tournament over the last ten years is -11.1, so that tells you that this track is rather challenging. The record here is only -18 – held by Vijay Singh who nailed this down in 2004 to win by five strokes. Places on strong approach players, those who are solid tee to green, golfers who can get up and down around greens, who putt well, and those who are accurate from the tee blocks.
Three questions that are relevant to the Valspar Championship this week:
- Strokes gained: approach has proved to be the most important stat here, so which 10 players have been the best in this stat category over their last 24 rounds? Wyndham Clark, Kevin Roy, Eric Cole, Joseph Bramlett, Sam Ryder, David Lipsky, Justin Suh, Gary Woodland, Matt Wallace, and Webb Simpson.
- Which 10 players gained the most strokes total (minimum 8 rounds) at this event since 2018? Sam Burns (16 rounds), Justin Thomas (8 rounds), Matthew NeSmith (8 rounds), Keegan Bradley (12 rounds), Rory Sabbatini (10 rounds), Stewart Cink (10 rounds), Adam Hadwin (12 rounds), Troy Merritt (10 rounds), Russell Knox (16 rounds), and Denny McCarthy (12 rounds).
- What’s my top calculated bet for the week (the goal here is to at least double the wager)? Tough call as per usual, but I’m leaning towards Adam Hadwin finishing top 20 which pays +125.
Below you will find players that I will bet, might bet, and five random bets that interest me. The odds come from DraftKings Sportsbook and are outright numbers. My betting strategy is to hedge quite a bit so my upside isn’t huge but neither is my downside, and I’m profitable or break even in roughly 70% of the weeks I’m active.
5 Players That I’m Absolutely Betting
Justin Rose (+2000) – Rose won four starts ago at Pebble Beach, is coming off a T6 at The Players Championship where he gained 7.02 strokes ball striking, and has six top 29’s over his last eight starts. He has a solid track record at this event with three top 8’s since 2011 in six starts, and has gained strokes ball striking every time he’s played here since 2008 – some eight starts. I feel pretty good about betting him to finish top 10 and top 20, and might even consider the outright wager on Justin.
Justin Thomas (+1200) – JT is coming off a bad putting week at The Players Championship, but he still gained 5.03 strokes ball striking. He had two top 5’s in six starts before last week along with four other top 25’s, and now he’s among the favorites to win this event. He captured a T3 here last year, a T13 in 2021, and has four top 18’s since 2015 in five starts. He has ball struck the crap out of the ball here over the last two years gaining 20.70 strokes, and if he has a good putting week could find himself in the winners circle come Sunday. I’m game to bet Thomas to win, to finish top 5, and top 10 this week.
Jordan Spieth (+1200) – He’s likely my favorite bet to win this week given he has two top 6’s in his last four starts, he won here in 2015, and has four top 20’s in five starts at this tournament. If he puts it all together this week then he more than has the talent and experience to win here again, he just needs a solid game throughout his bag from Thursday to Sunday to make it happen. I’m going to bet Spieth much the same as Thomas above, but I’m going to lay down a little bit more coin since I’m a bit more confident in Jordan vs Justin.
Justin Suh (+3500) – Yes, I have three Justin’s on my list this week! Suh seems hungry to win his first PGA Tour event as he has two top 6’s over his last three starts, including a T6 last week, and a T5 at The Honda Classic where he gained 10.45 strokes ball striking. He’s dangerous since he can pop in both ball striking and putting, and that can lead to victory when those elements are aligned. I’m betting him to win, to finish top 10, and top 20, and will hope that his hot streak continues.
Adam Hadwin (+2500) – I certainly like Hadwin’s prospects for this week given he’s coming off a T13 at The Players Championship last week where he gained 6.80 strokes ball striking and another 2.67 around the green. He has four top 18’s over his last seven starts, and could certainly add another one this week. He won here in 2017 and secured a T7 last year thanks to gaining strokes across the board, so he has this course figured out. My betting philosophy this week on Adam is to bet him the same way as Suh above, but I might invest a few more dollars given he has already won here before and has great experience on these grounds.
5 Players That I Might Bet
Brandon Wu (+5000) – Wu has my attention right now as he has two straight top 20’s and gained 9.89 strokes ball striking at The Honda Classic to finish T14. He also had a T2 four starts ago at Pebble Beach. In his first look at this event last year he had a T33 and it could have been so much better had he not lost 4.07 strokes around the green. Interestingly enough, he gained 4.07 strokes putting to completely even out his short game strokes gained. His top 40 +110 number interests me, and I could see myself getting behind a top 20 finish also, but I need to do some more research before committing to Brandon this week.
Matt Fitzpatrick (+1400) – He’s a hard one to figure out right now as he had a T14 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational two starts ago and a T29 at the Phoenix open four starts ago, but he also has three missed cuts over his last five starts. He was rather impressive here a year ago locking down a top 5 and gained strokes in all of the major stat categories. I’m just not sure how to navigate Fitzpatrick’s stock this week, but will likely end up betting him one way or another.
David Lingmerth (+10000) – Lingmerth seems to be hit or miss which isn’t so bad given he used to be just a miss until last October when his more impressive play started to pick up. Case in point, he has five top 11’s over his last eleven starts and four missed cuts mixed in for good measure. He’s coming off a T6 last week where he gained 6.93 strokes ball striking and 5.10 strokes putting, and could carry that momentum over this week. I’m not sure how I’m going to approach David this week, but his top 40 number is +140, so that at the very least is attractive to me. I plan on doing lots of top 40 bets this week given it’s hard to figure out who’s going to win this week in a fairly wide-open field.
Sam Burns (+1800) – Can he win for the third straight year?! His current stats would say no, but it’s entirely possible that he finds another gear and plays strong this week in a less-than-average field. He had a T35 last week, a T6 four starts ago, and a T11 five starts ago, but he has been leaning on his short game to make things happen. The good news is that he has been dynamite on these greens, so if that continues and he can find a way to gain 6 strokes or so ball striking as he did in 2021 and 2022, then he has a shot to three-peat. I can’t decide what I’m going to do with Burns this week, but would hate to miss out on another victory or a high finish to cash in.
Denny McCarthy (+3500) – I really like what McCarthy is doing now as he has three top 14’s over his last five starts including a T4 at Pebble Beach and a T13 last week where he gained strokes across the board. He did have a T9 here four years ago and can do the same again this week if he keeps the gas pedal down.
5 Other Interesting Bets
Tournament Matchup – Wyndham Clark over Maverick McNealy (-130) – Clark has been playing consistent golf since mid-October of last year with nine top 37’s over his last ten starts and four of those were top 16’s. Over McNealy’s last three starts, he has two withdrawals and a T60, so I know where I’m putting my money this week. The only way that Maverick wins this match is if he absolutely putts the lights out, but keep in mind that he had a T60 last week and gained 7.19 strokes putting.
To Miss the Cut – Matt Fitzpatrick (+330) – I might bet Fitzpatrick this week and it could end up being for him to miss the cut given he’s 2/5 recently and is 1/2 at this event in terms of missed cuts. The odds for this wager are fairly generous and intriguing. I likely won’t pull the trigger on this one, but it’s worth a look as he could even pull out if his potentially sore neck gives him more issues.
Tournament Winning Margin – 1 stroke exactly (+225) and a playoff (+300) – Over the last eight editions of this tournament, seven of them have seen the winner either win by a stroke or win in a playoff. Eleven of the last thirteen times this has been the case actually, as well. So it’s an interesting hedge here to choose both outcomes and hope that history repeats itself.
Top 40 – Ryan Gerard (+150) – You may not know who Gerard is but he had a T11 at the Puerto Rico Open earlier this month, a 4th at The Honda Classic two starts ago, and a T3 on the Korn Ferry Tour in his most recent three starts. We don’t have a lot of strokes gained data on him just yet, but he gained 8.66 ball striking at The Honda Classic and another 2.43 with his putter to finish top 5 there late last month. I can see myself betting him to finish top 40 this week and potentially even top 20 if I want to be even more aggressive.
Swedish – David Lingmerth (+180) – Pretty decent odds for Lingmerth to beat just three other Swedish golfers which include Ludvig Aberg, Vincent Norman, and Henrik Norlander.
Be sure to do lots of research and due diligence on each player before parting with your hard-earned money, and all the best in having a profitable week!
Jeremy has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 successful years, and actively plays golf, hockey, baseball, and table tennis. He has over three years of fantasy sports writing experience – including writing a daily fantasy sports strategies and tools eBook in 2016. He is an active member of DraftKings – specializing in NHL and PGA contests over the past 5 years. He enjoys spending time with his family, traveling to hot places in the frigid Canadian Winters, binge-watching on Netflix, and starting and managing digital businesses.