Betting on Golf: Valspar Championship

Betting on Golf: Valspar Championship

This article is part of our Betting on Golf series.

Valspar Championship Betting Strategy

Golfers are headed to Florida for the final time this season to take part in the Valspar Championship. This event is usually played in March directly after the THE PLAYERS Championship but was moved to the end of April this year. The top two players in the Official World Golf Ranking, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, headline a field that includes four of the  top 10 players in the world. The event was last played in 2019, when Paul Casey (20-1 odds) defended his 2018 title with a single-stroke victory over Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Kokrak

The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook is the host course, and it plays as one of the most difficult tracks on Tour, with only one winner finishing better than 10-under-par since 2013. Most known for its closing three-hole stretch referred to as "The Snake Pit," players will be looking to avoid mistakes and survive with pars as they close out their rounds. Water is in play on several holes, and it's not uncommon to see players limit driver use on the front nine to the par-5s. That will make driving accuracy and strong approach play key factors this week. Since 2016, the champion has finished top-10 in Strokes Gained: Approach every year, and the winner actually lost strokes off the tee on three of four occasions.

All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 4:30 PM ET.

Course History

The following players, with a minimum of eight rounds played, have the lowest scoring average at the Valspar Championship since 2015:

It's no surprise that the two-time defending champion is the only player to average a number lower than 70 over the last five tournaments at Innisbrook, and Casey comes into the event with longer odds than when he won in 2019. At 22-1, he provides good value, especially when you consider he's recorded five top-10s worldwide since January. Another one of the notable players in the field is Reed, who led the field in SG: Approach en route to his second runner-up finish at this event in 2018. Reed's stellar short game will likely come in handy at a course where players will often be scrambling to make pars.

Approach Pattern

The following players gained the most strokes on approach over their last 20 rounds:

This week's betting favorite at 10-1 is Thomas, and deservedly so, as he is the best approach player in the field at a second-shot golf course with lengthy par-3s. He will be making his first appearance since 2017, and has recorded a pair of top-20 results in three starts here. Meanwhile, Conners has reached a career-high 38th in the OWGR after five consecutive top-15 results in stroke-play events. His accuracy off the tee and elite iron play makes him a great course fit, and he finished T16 in his only previous start here in 2018.

Outright Picks

Tyrrell Hatton (25-1)

Europeans have had good success at the Copperhead Course, most notably Casey's fellow Englishman, Casey. Hatton's only Tour win came in Florida at Bay Hill, another tricky track. Although he doesn't have much course history to go off with a missed cut in his only appearance, Hatton ranks sixth in SG: Approach this season and relies on accuracy over distance off the tee.

Abraham Ancer (30-1)

Ancer finished top-10 in SG: Tee-to-Green both in his most recent start and in his only previous appearance here in 2018. He's a great course fit, considering he ranks top-5 this season in both driving accuracy and bogey avoidance. Ancer hasn't finished outside the top 30 since the start of the Florida Swing, and the three-time runner-up on Tour is due to pick up his first win at some point soon.

Joaquin Niemann (35-1)

Anytime I can get Niemann at this price in an average strength of field event I'm going to take advantage of it. On paper this doesn't appear to be a great fit, as his biggest strength is his length, but he's quite accurate for how long he is and doesn't have a weakness in his game. Niemann finished T37 in his only start at the Valspar in 2019 and has already recorded a pair of runner-ups this year.

Top-10 Picks

Keegan Bradley (13-2)

Bradley is coming off a nice showing at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, making eight birdies and an eagle during four-ball en route to a top-5 finish with partner Brendan Steele. He hasn't threatened the podium enough to make me confident in a bet to win, but with five consecutive top-30 results – including three of them in Florida – a top-10 wager is plenty appealing.

Ryan Moore (9-1)

Moore checks a couple boxes this week, as the stats make him a nice fit for the course and his results – a pair of top-5 finishes since 2015 – speak for themselves. He ranks bottom-10 in putting this season and has slipped outside the top 200 in the OWGR, but he did make the cut in four of his last five starts. He's typically one of the most accurate drivers on Tour, so if there's a place for him to find himself in the mix again, this should be it.

Russell Knox (11-1)

Knox ranked third in SG: Approach at this event in 2019 and has recorded consecutive top-25 results at Copperhead. His recent struggles have been due to his short game, as he's gaining shots on the field off the tee and on approach. A Florida resident, Knox has recorded two top-10s this season, and his track record suggests he is underpriced on a top-10 wager.

Head-to-Head Picks

Jason Kokrak (+100) over Scottie Scheffler: It's surprising to see Kokrak as a significant underdog in this head-to-head matchup considering his course history at Copperhead, where he has finished top-10 three times since 2015 and recorded a runner-up in 2019. Scheffler, on the other hand, will be making his first start here, and he's not an ideal course fit with off-the-tee play being his strength.

Kevin Streelman (-120) over Lucas Glover: Streelman is better than Glover in many key statistics, including iron play, bogey avoidance and short game. A winner of this event in 2013, he's played well this year, with a pair of top-15s over his last six starts. Glover has had success at the Valspar Championship as well, but he is better suited as a mid-range option in DFS contests.

Cameron Tringale (-110) over Ryan Palmer: Tringale's consistency makes him an ideal bet for this format, as the veteran has only missed one cut this year and has finished top-20 in over half of his starts. His best finish here is a third, and he's in better form than Palmer, who struggled with only two birdies and an eagle over two rounds of four-ball in New Orleans. Palmer's length off the tee will mostly be negated this week.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ryan Pohle
Ryan Pohle breaks down golf bets and covers college basketball for RotoWire.
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