Patrick Reed won the WGC Cadillac Championship last week, and firmly put himself into the mix with the worlds best (especially in his eyes). We move onto the newly named Valspar Championship this week for another great Florida event. Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club will be the venue for this week’s PGA Tour stop. Located in Palm Harbor, Florida, Innisbrook is one of the more difficult tests of the year. Let’s take a closer look at the course.
Innisbrook is a Par 71 7340 yard course that forces the players to be accurate. Known as Copperhead, the course challenges players to take risks on the par 5’s, and to play positional golf on the Par3’s and 4’s. The course record is held by Padraig Harrington after he fired a crazy 61 in his opening round of the 2012 tournament. A score like this will most likely not happen this week, but we will probably see a 63.
Copperhead features a total of 75 bunkers and 9 water hazards. The greens are extremely difficult and the tree-lined fairways pose a problem for any player who hits an errant shot. When the original architect Larry Packard designed this course in 1971, he had a terrific vision in mind. He wanted this to be a player’s golf course. He wanted a track that will challenge everyone who steps foot on it but also reward excellent golf. I can tell you, Larry succeeded.
The most difficult hole on the course is the Par 4 16th. At 460 yards it forces the players to hit a deep and solid first shot. Water lines the entire right side of the hole forcing many players to miss the fairway left. The green is wide but it uses its undulation and tricky breaks to protect it. Look for players who leave the 16th with a par to very happy with their score, as over the past 13 years it has played to a 4.35 stroke average.
We have nine past champions of this Championship competing this week. KJ Choi (2002, 2006) Retief Goosen (2003, 2009) Vijay Singh (2004) Carl Pettersson (2005) Sean O’Hair (2008) Jim Furyk (2010), Gary Woodland (2011), Luke Donald (2012) and Kevin Streelman (2013). The field also features ten players who currently reside in the Top 30 of the World Golf Rankings.
This tournament for some reason has favored the experienced golfers over the years. All you have to do is look at the past winners who will be returning this week. Some young guns will attempt to change that trend and as we have seen this year, it very well could happen. Be sure to tune into the young sensations such as Japans Ryo Ishikawa, Scotland’s Russell Knox, and a slew of talent from the United States ( Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Max Homa, John Peterson, Luke Guthrie, and Peter Uihlein)
Steve’s Six Pack Picks for Valspar Championship
This week we will be going with five players as we will be going two units on one of the guys. This is one of the most difficult stops on Tour, and we want players who play well on Tough courses.
Below is one free pick that was sent to members. Visit GolfBanker.com to sign up for a membership and receive all picks.
GARY WOODLAND 40 TO 1 – Woodland won this event in 2011 when he beat Webb Simpson by one stroke. He is one of the up and coming all stars on Tour, and it is his immense length that drives his game. Woodland will attack the course in a similar fashion to Koepka this week, as he does not need to hit his driver off many of these tees. Gary revamped his swing last season and looks primed for a big 2014. Gary played well last week at the Cadillac Championship as he finished T18, and only really struggled on the Friday (which was understandable based on the weather). He lost in a playoff earlier this season at the CIMB Classic and has shown that he feels comfortable with his new swing. When Gary won here in 2011 he absolutely dominated the Par 4’s and 5’s, playing them in a combined 14 under Par. I also think Gary will love being back on the greens at Copperhead, because based on the statistics he loves them.
Enjoy the golf everyone,