The PGA Tour packs its bags, leaving Ponte Vedra and heads to Palm Harbor, Fl for the last stop on the Florida Swing. As we say goodbye to The Players Championship, we raise our glasses to finally breaking through on the 2023 golf season. That's right, I finally won my first outright of the season. Scottie Scheffler winning The Players broke the drought. In addition to cashing in the outright market, the derivatives were great once again. Placement bets went 5-2 and cashed for a total of +5.87 units. Let this serve as a reminder, bookmark the NBC Sports Edge – Golf Page and check it periodically. Josh Culp and I will have weekly articles to help you out with your golf wagers. I will also post my bets on my Twitter Page.
This week, we are looking at the 144-golfer field for the Valspar Championship. This tournament is being defended by back-to-back champion Sam Burns, who is currently priced at +1600 on BetMGM to win again this season. The tournament is played at Innisbrook Golf Resort on the Copperhead golf course. I've had the privilege of playing in a tournament here. Granted it wasn't in Tour tournament conditions, the course was still pretty difficult. It demanded great skill off the tee and precision with my long irons. Should I miss a green, I better have had some slick scrambling in my game or else it would've been a long day.
The par 71 is 7,340 yards. It has five par 3s, ranging from 195-235 yards. The four par 5s are the easiest holes on the course, with an average eagle percentage of 0.9% and a birdie percentage or 31.2%. Scoring on the par 5s could make the difference between barely finishing T20 or winning the entire tournament. Due to the back-to-back designated PGA Tour events, the field strength is not as strong as last week. However, four golfers inside the top 20 are slated to tee off this week.
Innisbrook is already a course where golfers know, par is your friend. The holes demand a lot. This year, the premium on hitting fairways will be much higher as they brough the rough length up from 3” to 3.75”. They also decreased the immediate cut around the greens from 72” to 21” to bring the rough closer to the greens. This should make for a compelling watch when golfers miss the greens. We should be in for a fun week in Palm Harbor.
Key Metrics Correlated to Success:
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
- SG: Approach
- SG: Par 5
- SG: Putting
- Putting: 10-15 ft
- Par 3: 200-225
- SG: T2G
- Par 4: 450-500
Valspar Outright Betting Picks:
Jordan Spieth to win +1400 – FanDuel
When emphasizing strength off-the-tee, Jordan Spieth's name is probably not the first one that comes to mind. Honestly, Spieth is a total wildcard this week. He's a proven winner and once was the best golfer in the world. He's certainly had his struggles, but it seems, he could be putting those bad days behind him. I was most impressed by his performance at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Not only was he in contention come Sunday, but he was also brilliant off the tee and gained +5.9 strokes on approach. Even with his struggles off-the-tee at The Players, he finished T20. He gained +4.6 strokes on approach and has now gained strokes putting in back-to-back events. I've said for some time now, if Spieth can get back to rolling the rock, then he will be back to winning with regularity. I obviously am less excited about betting him at +1400, than his usual price of around +2500, but in this field, his pricing makes sense. I mean the man is a past winner (2015) for crying out loud. I wouldn't be surprised one bit to see him with this tournament by margin.
Ben Griffin to win +5000 - 0.25 units - BetMGM
There are a few PGA Tour rookies who have the look of guys who will be legitimate threats to win any tournament they play soon. Ben Griffin is precisely that. He hasn't quite hit his stride this season but does have a couple top five finishes this season. I bet him at the Farmers, and he played alright. He finished inside the top 40 and his game was solid all around. The only major area of concern came from him losing strokes putting. He went on to lose back-to-back strokes putting at Farmers and Pebble Beach. Since then, he has gained strokes on the putting surface in his last three events.
Griffin should excel here because he does so many things well. This tournament is generally won by golfers who are great tee-to-green. Over the last 36 rounds, Griffin is sixth among the field in SG: T2G. He's first in my model over the last 36 rounds and third over the last 24 rounds. Through his career, he's played better on more difficult courses. At +5000, he's worth a small sprinkle.
Tommy Fleetwood to win +2500 – 0.25 units – BetMGM
I wish I had a compelling argument as to why I liked Tommy Fleetwood this week. The truth is, he's just a consistent golfer who doesn't have many holes to his game and should be able to take his success over the past few weeks and build on it. Without beating a dead horse, this course is hard and it's important to bet on golfers who play well at tough courses. Fleetwood finished T5 at the PGA Championship and T4 at both the Scottish Open and The Open. He's still searching for that first PGA Tour win, but this course could be a great fit for him. The field is relatively easy, and he can use his strengths to his advantage.
With the possibility of sustained winds of 20 mph Friday and Saturday, my trust in Fleetwood grows more and more. He gains more strokes per round in windy conditions than most golfers on Tour. He's consistently gained strokes on approach, while gaining a whopping +5 strokes on approach. Fleetwood should find his name on the first page of the leaderboard much of the week. Hopefully that means he will be live to win come Sunday.