This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
Winner's Share: $1.206M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner AND
Location: Palm Harbor, Fla.
Course: Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club (Copperhead)
2018 champion: Paul Casey
It was one year ago when the Snake Pit nearly became the epicenter for The Comeback. Tiger Woods began the final round one shot off the lead and was the betting favorite to win a tournament just a little more than a month after returning to golf (again). Alas, Paul Casey spoiled everything by coming from off the pace for his second career PGA Tour title. Woods finished second. It would be six more months before the Tiger Faithful experienced their long-awaited nirvana.
So, it will be impossible for the Valspar to generate such magic this year, as Woods is not entered. The 144-man field is similar in strength to a year ago, with two golfers ranked in the top-10 (Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm) and six more in the top-25 (Casey, Jason Day, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Gary Woodland). After that, the strength of the field falls off very quickly, with only seven more in the top 50.
As with the first three events of the Florida Swing, patience will be rewarded over recklessness. Sure, birdies count more than bogeys in DFS play, and we'll keep that in mind in our value picks, but it won't do much good if your guys don't make the cut. Casey won at a mere 10-under-par and there have been recent instances of single-digit winners.
Of course, the highlight of Copperhead (or lowlight, depending on your vantage point) is the Snake Pit. Nos. 16-18 are annually among the toughest closing three-hole stretches on Tour, with two treacherous par-4s sandwiching a long par-3. They all play over par and, if the golfers aren't careful, way over par. Copperhead is not your traditional Florida track, as it's extremely narrow, tree-lined and situated on the western coast by the Gulf of Mexico. It's also an oddity for a par-71 in that there are five par-3s and four par-5s. But even with all those par-5s, the Valspar always ranks near the bottom in birdies and eagles. Copperhead has been the host track since the tournament's inception in 2000.
Long iron play, along with scrambling and putting, rule the roost here, as we'll detail in the key stats and Champion's Profile below.
Weather-wise, things are looking a little too good to be true right now. While temperatures will be hard-pressed to hit 70 the first two days, it will warm up on the weekend. There's very little chance of rain and the wind is forecast to be on the light side.
Key Stats to Winning at Copperhead
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Greens in regulation (175-200 yards)/strokes gained: approach
• Scrambling/strokes gained: around the green
• Putting inside 10 feet/strokes gained: putting
• Birdie-to-bogey ratio
If ever there was a tournament where shorter hitters can prosper, this is it. Just look above at the past 10 champions. Only Woodland would be considered a long hitter. Copperhead may technically be long at more than 7,300 yards for a par-71, but there are a bunch of dog legs to neutralize the bombers, not to mention five par-3s. We're looking at quality long iron players who are happy to play it safe and pick their spots. This is one of the hardest tracks for greens in regulation, which brings scrambling into play. And historically, great putting has translated into success at Copperhead, especially from inside 10 feet.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Dustin Johnson - $11,500 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 11-2)
Johnson has played the Valspar just twice before, missing the cut in 2008 and 2010. But he is so on his game right now that not much else matters. And in this semi-weak field, that just shortens Johnson's odds. You don't see 11-2 every day for a golf tournament. Johnson is ranked seventh in strokes gained: approach and fifth in birdie to bogey ratio.
Jason Day - $10,700 (10-1)
It's a little hard to pull the trigger on Day with his Bay Hill WD still fresh. But there's no denying his results when he completes four rounds. Last week's T8 at Sawgrass was his fourth top-10 in seven starts, and he's done no worse than 13th (other than the WD). Day is ranked fifth in three strokes-gained categories: off the tee, putting and total. He's seventh in birdie to bogey ratio. For what it's worth, Day hasn't played Innisbrook since 2013.
Webb Simpson - $10,400 (18-1)
Simpson tied for eighth a year ago after some lean years at Copperhead. But going further back, he ran off four straight top-20s from 2010-2013, including a runner-up in 2011. Simpson has five top-25s in seven starts this season, including last week at THE PLAYERS. His incredible putting numbers are down from a year ago, but he's 17th in strokes gained: approach, 12th in SG: around the green and 11th in birdie-to-bogey ratio.
Sergio Garcia - $10,100 (16-1)
Garcia wasn't in the mix last week at TPC Sawgrass, but he did finish top-25. And that was on the heels of a top-10 at the Honda. Really, his tee-to-green game is perfect for these difficult Florida tracks. Garcia tied for fourth at Copperhead a year ago and was top-16 three years running from 2011-13. After last week, Garcia finally has enough measured rounds, and he is now ranked first on Tour in strokes-gained approach.
Tier 2 Values
Gary Woodland - $9,900 (20-1)
Despite winning the Valspar in 2011, Woodland doesn't have the greatest track record there. There was a T8 in 2014, but nothing else to get excited about, especially last year's MC. But Woodland is ranked third on Tour in greens in regulation, seventh in strokes gained: tee to green and 12th in birdie to bogey ratio, and those numbers are hard to overlook.
Patrick Reed - $9,500 (20-1)
For a guy with two runners-up and a tie for seventh here the past three years, this is a pretty attractive price. Reed is the No. 8 guy on the DK board. He was on the fringe of contention last week at Sawgrass till he blew up with a final-round 78. Reed is far from elite tee to green, but makes up for it by ranking 18th in strokes gained: around the green and 29th in SG putting.
Jason Kokrak - $8,600 (40-1)
Year after year, Kokrak keeps churning out superior tee-to-green numbers. He's ranked fourth on Tour in strokes gained: approach and ninth in SG tee to green. That goes a long way toward explaining his success specifically at the Valspar and in general in Florida. Kokrak has a pair of Innisbrook top-10s the past four years. Before a so-so week at Sawgrass, he notched top-10s at the Honda and Bay Hill. Kokrak is a better-than-average 30th in birdie to bogey ratio.
Kevin Kisner - $8,500 (40-1)
Kisner is on an interesting streak of sorts. He's finished in the 20s in his past five starts, including T22 last week at Sawgrass. At this price we're expecting – and needing – a better result. The strength of this field should help. Kisner is ranked 31st in strokes gained: putting and 40th in birdie to bogey ratio.
Russell Knox - $8,100 (50-1)
Knox has made nine straight cuts since October and is coming off a T35 at Sawgrass. He's got some good numbers tee to green, ranking 25th in strokes gained: approach and 45th in SG around the green. Plus, Knox tied for 16th here a year ago.
Tyrrell Hatton - $7,900 (50-1)
Hatton has played 45 career events on the PGA Tour, mostly in the past three years, and he's finished top-25 in almost half of them. In 20, to be precise. He's done it four times in seven starts this season heading into his maiden visit to Innisbrook. The Englishman is ranked a decent 50th in strokes gained: tee to green but an elite sixth in SG around the green.
Michael Thompson - $7,600 (80-1)
Thompson had a terrific streak of five straight top-16s interrupted at Bay Hill and Sawgrass, presumably at least in part because of tougher fields. Still, he made it through the weekend at THE PLAYERS. Thompson is ranked 50th in strokes gained: approach and 25th in SG putting.
Steve Stricker - $7,400 (125-1)
A few weeks back it was Vijay Singh and last week it was Jim Furyk. Why not another oldie but goodie? Especially since last year Stricker tied for 12th at Copperhead and seventh in 2016. He's made 3-of-4 cuts on the PGA Tour in 2019, including Bay Hill, albeit without a high finish.
Trey Mullinax - $7,100 (125-1)
Mullinax had made seven straight cuts before last week, which must mean he's toning down his wild ways off the tee. He certainly was under control a year ago at Copperhead when he tied for eighth. Mullinax is ranked 40th in greens in regulation, 45th in strokes gained: tee to green and 63rd in birdie to bogey ratio.
Adam Schenk - $6,900 (150-1)
Schenk arrives for his second visit to inni Innisbrook coming off top-30s at both the Honda and Bay Hill (he didn't qualify for THE PLAYERS). He's ranked 43rd in strokes gained: approach and 59th in SG putting, and 72nd in birdie to bogey ratio. Schenk tied for 59th at Copperhead a year ago.
Harris English - $6,800 (150-1)
English has recorded a pair of top-10s at Innisbrook in the past and was T27 two years ago. He impressively tied for 12th at the Honda and also made the cut at Bay Hill. English is strongest closer to the hole, ranked 69th in strokes gained: around the green and 50th in SG putting.
Patrick Rodgers - $6,800 (150-1)
We don't have a ton of good things to say about Rodgers other than he's figured out how to make it to the weekend. After opening 2019 with four straight missed cuts, he's run off four straight cashes, including all three Florida events. Actually, here's one more good thing: Rodgers is ranked 46th in strokes gained: total, though we're not quite sure how he's done it.