Rory McIlroy silenced his critics by putting together a strong Sunday round to hold off Jim Furyk to win the PLAYERS. This past week was a lot of fun to watch as a golf fan and it seemed like the move to March was a great call by the PGA Tour. We come back down to earth this week going from the strong field and iconic TPC Sawgrass to Tampa Bay for the final stop of the Florida Swing, the Valspar Championship, held at the Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort, here is our course breakdown:
Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead): Par 71, 7,320 yards. This is one of the toughest tests on Tour each year that his best known for its difficult finishing stretch of holes referred to as the Snake Pit. Copperhead is a second shot course that neutralizes big hitters off the tee with its many doglegs, tree lined narrow fairways, thick rough, and water hazards. The average drive here is 13 yards less than the PGA Tour average forcing most approaches to come from the same areas as placement on to these fairways that average only 24 yards in width will be key. Copperhead features four par fives that play as some of the most difficult par fives on Tour along with five long par threes. All things considered, you’ll need to be a strong long iron player to be able to complete here, along with good scrambling skills to get up and down on the tricky Bermuda greenside areas.
In terms of stats, I’ll be focusing on primarily on long iron proximity due to the five long par threes and the overall layout profiling as a second shot course. As this is one of the more difficult courses on Tour we will also want to look at bogey avoidance along with scrambling and putting on Bermuda. Additionally, with the five par threes, it makes sense to target golfers who have shown the ability to play par three’s efficiently.
Here are our top stats to consider this week:
- Strokes Gained Approach
- Proximity from 175-225 yards
- Opportunities Gained
- Bogey Avoidance
- Scrambling and Strokes Gained Putting (Bermuda)
The Valspar is another victim of the new PGA Tour schedule as it just after the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the PLAYERS and the week before a WCG event. Elite players who are not looking to play four weeks in a row will likely choose the Valspar as the event they sit out. We do have a few top players here that have decided to tee it because of strong course history or meeting the PGA Tour obligation of playing in at least one new event per year. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, and Sergio Garcia will be headlining the field along with defending champ Paul Casey. However, after that there is a sharp drop off in average OWGR. With the weaker field it makes sense to reduce cash game volume a bit in favor of GPPs where we can leverage some of the volatility of the weaker field and difficult track this week. That being said, we will still stick to our process here in pursuit of our weekly optimal build. Here are three targets for your cash game / single entry tournament lineups on DraftKings:
High-End – Webb Simpson – $10,400
A Bermuda course that does not require length of the tee to be successful means it’s time to fire up Webb Simpson again. He is one of the best in the game from 175-200 yards over the long term and his performance at TPC Sawgrass showcased that his approach game is rounding back into form. At 20:1 Vegas odds he has the win equity that is important to have if you are going to be starting at lineups over $10,000.
Upper Mid-Range – Henrik Stenson – $9,100
Copperhead profiles as a great fit for Stenson who will happily lay back off the tee with his trusty three wood and has historically been one of the best long iron players in the game. His form over the past year has been hit or miss but coming off a week at Sawgrass where the approach game looked good is a step in the right direct even though he missed the cut due to some bad putting. If he can turn the flatstick around this week a top ten finish will not be out of the question for the Iceman.
Mid-Range – Jason Kokrak – $8,700
Jason Kokrak has been on another level so far this year when it comes to his ball striking gaining 3.5 strokes or better in each of his last five events while posting top 20 finishes in 5 of his last 7 starts. While Kokrak does not come to mind right away on a tight track like we will see this week, his course history has been very good (two top ten finishes in the last four years) setting him up to be a great option to help provide some safety on what could be a volatile week. My only concern here is that this will be his fourth straight week of competition.
How we did last week:
Cash/Single Entry Article Plays:
Hideki Matsuyama – T8
Tommy Fleetwood – T5
Rafa Cabrera Bello – MC
Optimal Sports Subscribers Core Plays:
Ben An – T26
Matt Kuchar – T26
Xander Schauffele – MC
Hideki Matsuyama – T8
Tommy Fleetwood – T5
Sergio Garcia – T22
Last Week’s DraftKings Double Up Contest Result: Win
2018-2019 Season Double Up Record: 13-6
Record in Double Ups Since 1/1/18: 38-16
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