Valspar Championship Preview: Can Thomas claim his first victory at Copperhead

20 March 2024

We are winding down from an enthralling Players Championship where Scottie Scheffler went back-to-back, becoming the first player to accomplish that feat. A little luck was on his side as Wyndham Clark's putt on 18 peeped in the hole before horseshoeing out.

Now the PGA Tour heads to the last stop on the Florida Swing and the courses don't get any easier with Copperhead taking centre stage for the Valspar Championship. The first name that springs to mind here is two-time Valspar champion Sam Burns 15.5. Eagle-eyed bettors might have noticed a sneaky 65 in Saturday's third round of the Players Championship from Sam.

The Valspar Championship encompasses a lesser field in 2024. Scottie Scheffler takes a break, but the in-form Xander Schauffele leads the market at 8.6. There's a purse worth over 8 million to play for and 500 FedEx Cup points are on offer for the winner of the Valspar Championship.

The Course

Ball strikers to the fore as is generally the theme in the Florida events. Windy, dog-legged fairways with some elevated greens mean tee-to-green game is paramount. Some par 5s at Innisbrook are more card wreckers than chances to gain strokes on the field and the Bermuda (with Poa Annua) greens at Innisbrook see more three putts and four putts than most other venues. Florida winds generally blow and the rough can be very thick and juicy at the Valspar along tree-lined fairways. We will await the snake pit down the stretch which includes one of five par 3s on a par 71 course playing over 7,300 yards.

The Contenders

The field is thin this week and I expect the top of the market to thrive so it’s three shortish-priced players for me here:

I mentioned Sam Burns and although he’s second in the market at 15.5 or 2.98 for a top 10, I think that represents a bit of value. Burns went back-to-back at the Valspar Championship in 2021 and 2022 and followed that up with a sixth place finish last year. He’s hitting form having notched four top 10s in a row before the tour headed to Florida. Burns recorded a third-round 65 at the Players Championship last week. 

Justin Thomas, 17.0 or 3.2, is a course specialist around Copperhead despite having no victory here. He’s had five top 20s in his last six visits with a best finish of 3rd place in 2022 where he could have won easily. Thomas missed the cut at the Players Championship and will be eager to get back to challenging following T12 finishes at both Bay Hill and Phoenix. JT is sixth in greens in reg in 2024 so his irons are on song.

Nick Taylor, 40.0 or 5.0, is at the top of his game right now with two wins coming in Canada and at the Phoenix Open. He’s kept it going through the Florida swing with an average finishing position of around 25th. The Canadian is ninth in strokes gained approach and is excelling with the long irons, ranking 34th in approaches from 175-200 yards. Taylor is also 19th in scrambling which could come in handy here, and another win might be around the corner.

Recommended Bets

Back Sam Burns to win @ 15.5 or t10 @ 2.98
Back Justin Thomas to win @ 17.0 or t10 @ 3.2
Back Nick Taylor to win @ 40.0 or t10 @ 5.0

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