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PGA Tour Stats Review: Entering the Valspar Championship

Jeremy Schilling

Schilling covers golf for RotoWire, focusing on young and up-and-coming players. He was a finalist for the FSWA's Golf Writer of the Year award. He also contributes to PGA Magazine and hosts the popular podcast "Teeing It Up" on BlogTalkRadio.

Tampa is up next on the PGA Tour's Florida Swing, as the Valspar Championship is the next opportunity for players to pull a Patrick Reed, putting themselves on the path to becoming a top-5 player. Because, say what you want about Reed's comments after his win at Doral, but doesn't everyone want to be No. 1?

History Lesson

The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort is one of the most underrated courses on the PGA Tour schedule, only getting its due credit in recent years. A strong field has responded to those relatively newfound accolades.

The defending champion is Kevin Streelman, who won by two over Boo Weekley. In 2012 Luke Donald defeated Sang-Moon Bae, Jim Furyk and Robert Garrigus in a playoff, in 2011 Gary Woodland beat Webb Simpson and in 2010 Furyk beat K.J. Choi.

None of those is really hot, so we'll go with the golfer who has the best record on this course out of that group, which is Furyk. His season has been inconsistent thus far - with finishes of T35-T23-T5-T62 - but he has been hitting 67 percent of his fairways, seven percent above the tour average.

Who is Playing

The field includes Jordan Spieth, Darren Clarke, Peter Uihlein and Brooks Koepka (more on them in a moment), Tim Clark, John Daly and Harris English, among others.

Uihlein and Koepka are both Americans who chose to go to the European Tour rather than the Tour to raise their world ranking and eventually make it back onto the PGA Tour. They've both done well so far, with multiple wins to show for their effort while still focusing on their play across the pond.

We recommend Uihlein, not so much for stats but because he will want to play well in a rare appearance on the PGA Tour.

Koepka, meanwhile, nearly won the Open to begin the 2013-2014 PGA Tour season and has 196 Non-Member FedEx Cup points, placing him fifth on that list. He's probably about 200 points shy of clinching his card for the 2014-2015 season. So for that reason, as well as the fact that he averages 309 yards off the tee and hits nearly 70 percent of his greens in regulation, he's a recommended pick this week.

Sunday Surgers

Scott Langley -
Langley shot a final-round 65 to move up 34 spots in the final round of the Puerto Rico Open to get a T19 finish. He finished the week T17 in driving accuracy and 17th in sand saves.

Jonas Blixt -
On a tough Sunday at Doral, Blixt shot the round of the day, scoring a final-round 66 that led to a 35-spot jump on the leaderboard and a T16 finish. For the season Blixt is fifth in sand save percentage and 66th in strokes gained-putting.

Luke Donald -
The aforementioned Donald ended the WGC-Cadillac Championship with a Sunday 69 that gave him a 19-place bump to a tie for 25th. Donald has had consecutive strong weeks, tying for eighth at the Honda Classic. While he doesn't have enough starts to qualify for the PGA Tour's stats list, he does have an above average 1.347 strokes gained-putting per round. If he had the requisite number of rounds, he'd be second in the statistic.