Fantasy Golf Picks, Odds, and Predictions for the Valspar Championship
2017 Valspar Championship Fantasy Preview
A resounding success: that’s the best way to describe the WGC’s move of their early Spring tournament to Mexico. The Club de Golf Chapultepec track played beautifully and looked to be in stunning condition, and a perfect weekend would have been rounded off perfectly if our pick, Jon Rahm, could have chased down eventual winner Dustin Johnson. As it was, the Spaniard just ran out of time and had to settle for a share of third place.
DJ’s win confirmed his status as the world’s premier golfer right now, and he has become the Vegas sportsbooks’ favorite for The Masters ahead of Jordan Spieth. His triumph in Mexico also continued the trend of the most fancied players taking the honors, dating back to Hideki Matsuyama’s win at the Phoenix Open. Since then the PGA TOUR trophy holders have been Spieth, DJ (x2), and Rickie Fowler, so this ‘cream rising to the top’ narrative has to be a key angle for DFS gamers this week.
The Tour heads back to Florida on Thursday for the Valspar Championship, held annually at the tricky Copperhead course at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbour. This is a tough old test of ball striking, but with weather conditions set mostly fair for the four days we should see some sublime golf on this classic ball-strikers track.
Last Week’s Fantasy Results from the WGC-Mexico Championship
It was a wild ride in Mexico and thankfully we steered clear of Henrik Stenson last week. The Swede withdrew early in the week mid-round causing a lot of Fantasy players to throw in the towel before Round 2. If you followed our advice and stayed away from him in favor of Rahm or Garcia it was a great chance for you to cash in big as those players were “knocked out” early.
Our Top Picks last week including Rose, Rahm, Garcia, Perez, and Pieters. Rahm had the most impressive week finishing T3 with almost 95 fantasy points and end up being our most solid pick, especially at a bargain $9,000 price tag! Rahm even held the lead briefly on Sunday but was outgunned by the unstoppable Dustin Johnson.
Unfortunately our Top Tier fantasy play was Rose who we chose at $9,600 over the enormously expensive Dustin Johnson in order to create a more well-rounded roster in the WGC no-cut event, but in the end, the best lineup this week contained a combination of DJ, Pieters, Rahm, Fleetwood, and the unexpected Ross Fisher.
DJ’s dominance will keep him as a heavy Vegas favorite as move into the Majors and even our GPFP indicators had him in the top spot last week. But again, the heavy favorites with the big price tags are hard to justify when you need production from the low-end of your roster in these no-cut events.
Even without DJ in the lineup we still managed to finish the week in Mexico with three Top 12 finishes.
The 2017 Valspar Championship Field
The headline acts this week are Justin Thomas, looking to build on his stellar start to the 2017 campaign, and Henrik Stenson, who presumably will be happy just to be back on American soil after suffering the most euphemistic of ‘upset stomachs’ in Mexico, forcing his early withdrawal.
It’s a pretty spare field in truth, with only eight of the top 30 players in the world present in Florida, but defending champion Charl Schwartzel will be looking to retain his crown ahead of a solid mix of quality operators (Matt Kuchar, Gary Woodland, Russell Knox, Bubba Watson, Bill Haas, etc) and up-and-coming young talents (Daniel Berger, Byeong-Hun An, Wes Bryan, Ollie Schniederjans, and more).
Given the technical nature of the track, older heads such as Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, and Sean O’Hair might just fancy their chances too.
This Week’s Course Preview
In some respects, Copperhead is an a-typical Florida golf course, it is leafy, green, and lush, with tree-lined fairways and multiple doglegs (sometimes on the same hole!) ensuring that course management is an essential skill here; keep in mind that just 17 players finished under par here in 2016.
At 7,340 yards for its Par 71, the stroke average of these 18 holes liberally exceeds par. Bunkers have been added closer to the putting surfaces to enhance the test yet further, with Bermudagrass greens running pretty fast at 11.5 on the stimp.
This is a stretch that gives with one hand and takes with the other. Holes 16-18 are known as the ‘Snake Pit’, and as the name suggests can be pretty unforgiving. The trio is a fantastic way to bring to a close a tournament, and the eventual champion will have earned their silverware.
But there are opportunities too: Schwartzel played the Par 5s at -9 in his winning effort 12 months ago; not bad considering he finished at -7! Getting off to a good start on both sets of nine at the first, eleventh and fourteenth holes is key.
Weather Forecast for Palm Harbor, Florida
Conditions look set to be rather nice in Florida this week, with sunshine and some cloud-cover anticipated with an average temperature of 80 degrees.
Winds have been a feature of the Valspar Championship in the past despite the tree-lined shelter, although nothing particularly sinister has been forecast this week.
A quick note should be made about Sunday, however. The long-range forecast suggests scattered showers are expected, with gusts reaching up to 15 mph. The nature of rain showers dictates that Palm Harbor might not be affected, but it is worth bearing in mind if dark clouds roll over head as the tournament reaches its business end.
Last Year’s Results from the Valspar Championship
A late rally from Charl Schwartzel was enough to get the job done 12 months ago. The South African was five shots adrift ahead of the final round, and still had to make up three on the back nine. But a 65ft birdie putt was enough to get him into a playoff with Bill Haas who finished at -7, and after the American bogeyed the first extra hole Schwartzel claimed his first win on U.S. soil since his triumph in the 2011 Masters.
An honorable mention must go to Lee McCoy, an amateur who is a member at Innisbrook and claims to have played the Copperhead course ‘maybe a 1000 times.’ His fourth place finish was testament to that.
The likes of Graeme De Laet and Charlie Hoffman walked away wondering what might have been a year ago. Both firmly in contention heading into Sunday, they shot 75 apiece to end any hopes they might have had of clinching the trophy.
Where to Play Fantasy Golf for the Valspar Championship this Week
We love events like this: a wide open field guarantees plenty of variance in team selection, and a test like Copperhead which is anything but a birdie fest tests the skills of even the wiliest of DFS drafters. That said, here’s the DraftKings action we like this week:
- PGA $400K Birdie: The monster is back! A $3 buy in, with 150 team multi-entry, to battle it out for the $25k top prize. Finish in the top 24,400 out of 156,000 to double your stake as a minimum.
- PGA $50k Scramble: If you prefer low multi-entry contests then how about this: $20 buy-in, with just three entries per player with a guaranteed total prize pot of $50k!
In addition to the usual DraftKings games this week, we thought we’d introduce you to something new, unique, and even a bit easier to win given the contest structure.
That’s right, there’s a new DFS game in town and it’s called DRAFT. Visit PlayDRAFT.com for more details on how their weekly golf contests work.
Best of all, our colleagues over at The Golf Podcast have even worked in a coupon code for us. First-time players can use coupon code ‘golfpodcast‘ at checkout for a 100% deposit bonus. Download the app here on iTunes and Android.
This Week’s Fantasy Notes for the Valspar Championship
Despite its tricky nature – the last four winning scores have ranged from -7 to -10 – it seems as though tee work is of little importance on this Copperhead track. Schwartzel hit just 44% of fairways last year at an average of 292 yards, so we could argue to some extent that neither driving accuracy nor distance are a huge factor here.
Clearly, that means that strong iron play, scrambling where required, and a hot putter will go some way towards ensuring a decent showing on the leaderboard. Eleven of the last fifteen winners have all ranked inside the top-20 for Greens in Regulation (Schwartzel found 65% of greens on time), and his strokes gained on the field stats – +2.32 tee-to-green, +1.96 on approach – confirm that sentiment compared to other aspects of his game (-0.11 off the tee, +0.89 putting).
We’ve already mentioned the importance of the Par 5s at Copperhead and that simply cannot be underestimated. Schwartzel played these at -9 compared to level for the Par 3s and +2 for the Par 4s; so this is where our champion will be made this week!
There are some obvious correlations as far as similar courses go. The Honda Classic was played at tough PGA National just two weeks ago, and as another stern Floridian test is well worthy of consideration.
Plus, there have been four winners of both the Valspar and Sony Open (at Waialae) events in Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh, KJ Choi, and John Huston, while Singh, Jordan Spieth, Sean O’Hair, and John Senden have all done the Valspar-John Deere Classic double.
Our Top 5 (and Top 2 Sleeper) Fantasy Picks and Odds to Win the Valspar Championship
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Fantasy Golf Predictions This Season (2016-2017)
Total Top 3s
Total Top 10s
Total Top 25s
Total Winners Picked
Total Runners-Up Picked
Total Made Cuts (Includes Sleepers)
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