This article originally appeared on Lucky Trader: The Valspar Championship
The last leg of an entertaining and eventful Florida swing is here as the PGA TOUR heads to Palm Harbor, a place I call home! The Valspar Championship has been in this Tampa area for quite some time and has been hosted now at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort for more than 15 years. Below, I’ll share a bit about the course and the golfers that will be teeing it up here this week.
Including this week, there are 26 events remaining in the 2023 PGA TOUR schedule, played out over 23 weeks, 14 of which don’t have “elevated status” and, thus, don’t contain all the world’s best players. This week’s format is a typical PGA TOUR event, where there is a cut after 36 holes and the top 65 golfers (and ties) advance to the weekend.
For comparison’s sake, this event can be seen as the Florida version of the Travelers Championship. As for the field, the Valspar Championship invites some of the game’s youngest stars, including Pierceson Coody and Ludvig Aberg. While neither of these players have a Reignmakers card yet, you can expect to see them in future sets and they should be on your radar once that happens. Throw newly minted 21-year-old PGA TOUR member Akshay Bhatia on that list as well.
In DraftKings Reignmakers PGA TOUR the Valspar Championship is considered a “premium” event. It carries a total prize pool of $275,000, spread throughout the rarity tiers. The ELITE tier offers the largest prize pool this week, paying $15,000 to the winner and $75,000 in total.
DraftKings also introduced new contests like prize pack parties, single entry contests, and bankroll boosters to allow play from all types of users.
The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook is an excellent test of golf, one I’ve had the pleasure of playing quite a few times. At 7,300 yards, it’s not overly long, and as a par 71 with four par fives, it shouldn’t feel excessively burdensome. But, when you dive in you’ll see that all the par threes are difficult, long and have hazards looming. Plus, most of the par fours require something less than driver off the tee, showcasing the course’s teeth, which normally leads to a winning score around ten under par (-10).
While Sam Burns has crushed that normal winning score over the past two years here, winning each time at -17, the course and grounds crew have taken steps to mitigate such low scores as they try their best to be the last “true” test before golfers start planning and preparing for The Masters. In fact, with the WGC Match Play ending its run this year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more golfers take Justin Thomas’s route and play here next year before taking the next three weeks off, mentally preparing for what’s to come.
The course draws some comparisons to Augusta National, as being in the proper position typically yields better scores than the grip and rip-it mentality. With the changes made to the course and the expected high winds here in the area on Friday, you can expect to see the winning score trend back towards the average around -10.
Last 5 Winners & Winning Score to Par
- 2022: Sam Burns (-17)
- 2021: Sam Burns (-17)
- 2020: CANCELED
- 2019: Paul Casey (-8)
- 2018: Paul Casey (-10)
Now that we’ve set the stage for the event, it’s time to talk specifically about the golfers competing here this week. It’ll be infrequent where two of the top five golfers that are projected to win a tournament don’t have a Reignmakers card, but we’ve got that here with Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose. The result of that will bring in a few other names that I don’t expect to see in the top five of the odds board for the rest of this year. Another result is that those last few golfers in a “main lineup” are more open to interpretation than if all the best players were playing.
Three-Ball: Three Options for Reignmakers PGA TOUR This Week
Since the PGA TOUR goes out in threesomes every Thursday and Friday, I’ll always leave this article with three Reignmakers PGA TOUR targets for the week. The reasons for targeting could be a weekly pick, a season-long pick, a value pick, or a combination of all of the above.
1. Wyndham Clark: Considered a veteran now, Clark has finally found his groove here in 2023. He’s made the weekend in seven straight starts and has drastically improved the worst part of his game this season. He’s always been long off the tee and a very good putter, but he struggled mightily with his irons, ranking outside the top 120 in strokes gained on the approach in each of his years on tour. But, this year, he ranks No. 58 coming into the weekend, which has undoubtedly helped his game become much more consistent.
Now it’s time for Clark to put it all together and show upside, along with consistency. His ELITE prices have increased by about 40% over the last few days. So look to his RARE or CORE cards, which are much more reasonable and can be played up a rarity tier.
2. Taylor Moore: This is his second year on the PGA TOUR after making it to the second leg of the playoffs as a rookie last year. He’s proven himself to be a solid player and found a nice spot of form here over the last month or so, making five of six cuts and finishing inside the top 40 in all five made cuts. Similar to Clark above, we haven’t seen top 5 upside quite yet but given a relatively weak field strength and form trending in the right direction, this could be a breakout spot.
3. Brandon Wu: Wu is another second-year player I’ve known about for much longer than Moore. Wu, a college standout, didn’t quite get acclimated to the professional game as quickly as many expected. But now in his second year on TOUR, he’s finding his game and his consistency. Last year was filled with a bunch of missed cuts and a couple of high finishes that had him make the playoffs and retain his PGA TOUR card. But this year, it’s a bit of the opposite, making 11 of 15 cuts but only one top 10. That top 10 was a tie for second about a month ago at Pebble Beach, showing that the upside displayed last year is still there.
He’s in a great position to play in some of the most significant events this year while also needing to continue to earn FedEx Cup points. I’ll add that I think Wu could play the most events from now until the end of the year of any golfer on the PGA TOUR. So, add his consistency with his potential upside, and the likelihood of him playing in the most events, and that makes him a prime target for the Reignmakers PGA TOUR game this week and beyond.
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