Winning Share: $1,026,000
The farcical Friday winds that battered Donald Trump’s new design at Doral last week entertained all of us, with Patrick Reed eventually coming out on top on the Sunday. His comments afterwards however, have not entertained many, showing a ridiculous rash of arrogance that was so unnecessary considering he had just bagged a WGC title. Idiot.
Moving onto this week though and we are staying in Florida on the PGA Tour, as the newly-named Valspar Championship (formerly Tampa Bay Championship) heads to the Copperhead Golf Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor.
The 7,340 yard par 71 has often been considered one of the tougher tracks on tour, with tree-lined fairways and very small greens to consider. It suits those ball strikers and course management experts, who can navigate their way from tee to green in an accurate and systematic way. Although relatively long, you cannot consider the longer, wayward hitters because they will ultimately be punished.
It doesn’t seem like recent form is a necessity here, but you have to be a renowned ball striker if things aren’t going your way by the time you tee up.
With 5 par 3s on offer, you have to consider the guys who are great with their irons and attack pins on those shorter holes, because they will have a big say.
All in all you are looking for someone with a cool, calm head to manoeuvre the ball around the Bermuda-fairways and greens and post a relatively decent score.
Harris English (20/1 BetFred)
Firstly, we must admit we were horrified at how low Harris English was when the odds came out. We knew we wanted to back him late on Sunday evening, but at 20s we did have a re-think.
However, after a lengthy discussion, we decided he was too interesting not to back because at the end of the day, he is a perfect fit for this course.
Form wise, he is swinging with effortless ease at the moment and looks to be in complete control of the golf ball everytime he steps up to take a shot.
A solid T16 at Doral followed up an impressive showing at the matchplay, where he beat Rory McIlroy after 19 holes. Some of his approach play in that match was just sublime and proved his capabilities with an iron in his hand – 8th for GIR on tour, T4 in ball striking and T56 proximity to the hole.
Before then, he had 4 top 11’s in 5 starts, which is the sort of form a future winner displays. So, now coming onto a track he finished T7 at last year, he will be full of confidence and there is no reason why he wouldn’t be challenging the leaders.
On top of all that, he is one of the better par 3 players – 4th par 3 birdie or better and 2nd par 3 performance, so attacking those 5 short holes will not faze him.
If you look past the odds, you do realise that this is a player who should definitely be up there come Sunday.
Webb Simpson (28/1 various)
We were obviously left disappointed by Webb Simpsons performance last week, after he finished T47, but an 80 and 78 to begin the week will never help anyone. He did recover with 2 70s at the weekend, which is one of the main reasons why we feel he warrants another look here.
He clearly hated the conditions he was fighting in to begin with, but as we said, a solid couple of rounds on a very tough course will stand him in good stead on a track that is potentially just as difficult and where he has played very well before.
Last year he finished a respectable T17, while in 2012 he was just 3 shots off the lead in what was a consistent 4 rounds of golf. In 2011, an outstanding display from Gary Woodland halted an otherwise faultless 4 days, where he eventually finished outright 2nd and even in 2010 a T13 shows that this course suits his eye.
And that is hardly surprising when you consider what Simpson’s game is all about. Tee to green proficiency, with real quality iron ability – T34 driving accuracy, T17 GIR, T11 ball striking and T59 proximity to the hole.
Once he gets to the green, he is one of the most dependable putters in the game – 2nd strokes gained putting and when you put all this together alongside a T30 for par 3 performance, you have someone with the obvious potential to go well round Copperhead.
After last week Webb, you certainly owe us.
Louis Oosthuizen (70/1 StanJames)
Louis Oosthuizen was someone that certainly interested us last week, but after a back injury, which meant he withdrew from the Honda Classic, we decided against him.
However, to be fair he actually played some good golf in his T40 finish, but like many around him, failing to properly recover from that Friday round.
He was in and around the leaders before falling apart in the wind though, which makes us think that he is coping with the bad back.
Louis did come out and say that he is cutting down his schedule on the range at the moment, so as not to tweak anything, but that is fine by us if he does what we all know he can do during the 4 days of play.
One of the most stunning swings in the game, tee to green you will find few better than the South African.
He has finished inside the top 20 here before as well, so if and yes it is a major if, his back can keep together, then 70/1 is absolutely barmy and if you got any sense about you, you will jump on it straight away.
Brandt Snedeker (66/1 StanJames)
Who would of thought that for a regular PGA Tour event, Brandt Snedeker would be our 4th choice?! We could never even entertain the idea of backing him at 66s either (unless it was for a major) so when we saw his odds, we couldn’t resist.
We are not denying that Sneds is out of form at the moment, nowhere near the heights of what he was achieving this time last year, but you still have to say a T36 a few weeks ago followed by a respectable 42nd at Doral are signs of some sort of change.
He will also be coming to a course where he has a decent record – 4th place in 2011 after a stunning 2nd round of 64 and T8 in 2008.
Ultimately, he is the perfect player for a ball striking contest because tee to green he is one of the best, whilst there a few you would trust more with a putter – 25th driving accuracy, 73rd GIR and T53 strokes gained putting.
Being such a short game guru, he is renowned as a par 3 specialist – 5th par 3 birdie or better and T27 par 3 performance, so attacking the 5 par 3’s we will have every confidence in him.
Like Louis at 70s, we just thought 66 was too good an offer to turn down considering not just the capabilities of the player, but also the suitability to the course.
Stewart Cink (150/1 various) and Justin Leoanrd (150/1 BetVictor)
We couldn’t help but chucking two stalwarts in at very high odds, because they do suit the challenge ahead this week – the beautifully bald Stewart Cink and the unerringly straight hitting Justin Leonard.
Firstly, Cink is not in the greatest form at the moment and probably hasn’t been for quite some time, however you cannot ignore the fact that this is a course where he has a rich history – 5 top 20s including a 2nd in 2008 and a T3 in 2005. He is one of those ball striking geniuses that you can trust to find the fairways and greens, so if everything keeps together, there is no reason Cink couldn’t impress this week – 10th par 3 birdie or better, 21st GIR, 41st ball striking and 20th proximity to the hole.
Secondly, Leonard, like Cink, may not be in the greatest form of his life, but he did impress a few weeks ago as he finished T3 at the Humana Challenge.
He is now coming onto a course where he also has a good history, finishing T4 last year and 4 top 30 in the 5 performances that preceded that.
He is a tee to green guru himself and if all goes smoothly again, he will be in with a shout – 3rd par 3 performance, T14 par 3 birdie or better, 24th driving accuracy and 19th strokes gained putting.