Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: Valspar Championship
Fresh off a tremendous finish at THE PLAYERS, the PGA Tour closes out its Florida swing at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida, where the Copperhead course awaits. The Valspar Championship welcomes another good field, including World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and defending champion Paul Casey. While the course is not so littered with bunkers and water hazards as the last two events, the course annually plays as one of the most difficult on Tour, and narrow, tree-lined fairways demand precision from the first hole to the last.
The 7,340-yard, par-71 course features an atypical layout with an extra par 3 instead of one fewer par 5. The yardage is made up across the course, as all five par 3s measure at least 195 yards, and each of the par 5s is at least 560 yards.
The length also comes from club selection, as golfers are forced to keep the driver in the bag if they want to keep the ball in play. Of all courses on Tour last year, Copperhead had the narrowest fairways at 250 yards, 300 yards, and over 300 yards.
Wind is another defense, so keep an eye out for any waves that might get an advantage from playing in calmer conditions. Wind not only affects ball flight but can also dry out and speed up the greens.
Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.
Course and Tournament Info
Course: Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead Course
Distance: 7,340 yards
Tees/Fairways/Rough: Celebration Bermudagrass overseeded with ryegrass
Greens: TifEagle Bermudagrass overseeded with poa trivialis
|Season||Par||Yardage||Average Score||Avg O/U Par||Rank|
Perennially one of the 10 toughest tracks on Tour, Copperhead bears its fangs throughout but most dauntingly in the closing stretch, aptly nicknamed the Snake Pit. The final three holes have all played over par in each of the last five years, and performance in this stretch makes or breaks a golfer's tournament.
Each of the last five editions have finished in either a playoff or a one-stroke victory; one slip up heading home is the difference between winning and losing.
Not that the rest of the course is any picnic. With some of the narrowest fairways on Tour, avoiding the rough is worth the price of a longer approach shot. Each of the last three winners at this event has actually lost strokes off the tee, riding dominant iron play and a hot putter to victory. Getting the ball to the putting surface is far more important than bombing it off the tee.
These stats have proven vital to success in the Valspar Championship at the Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort.
|Key Stats for the Valspar Championship at the Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Strokes Gained: Par 5s (emphasis in 550-600 yards range)|
|Proximity Gained 175+|
Irons, irons, irons. Strokes gained: approach once again pops, as golfers who finished top 5 gained 0.92 strokes on approach, well over twice as many as they did off the tee (0.35). The top of the leaderboard each of the last two years includes some of the best iron strikers in the world, including Casey, Tiger Woods, and Sergio Garcia in 2018 and Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, and Henrik Stenson in 2017 (Woods, Cantlay, and Finau are not in the field this week).
Opportunities gained can factor in every week, but especially where birdie chances are few and far between, it is essential to find golfers who give themselves a shot to score. There won't be many opportunities out there, so golfers who can get an extra one or two per week deserve a bump.
The four par 5s all fall between 560 and 605 yards, so prioritizing this range is essential. General par 5 performance will offer a larger sample, but additional weight to the key range will help find golfers who stand out when they can't just overwhelm these holes and have to navigate their way to the greens. Copperhead yielded only 22 eagles last year and 17 the year before that.
Bogey avoidance takes on more importance than birdie-making this week, though a blend is always a good option. Using opportunities gained will bring more birdie makers into the model as well. Golfers carded 1,400 bogeys last year, compared to just 1,212 birdies.
Contenders will gain with their long irons, so proximity from beyond 175 yards is a good indicator of who is throwing darts from long range. If your player pool includes shorter hitters who are likely to lay up with their second shot, don't forget about the shorter proximity ranges as well. There is more than one way to skin a snake at Copperhead.
Course History Studs
Patrick Reed had his second runner-up finish in the last four years in 2018. His brand of grind-it-out, opportunistic golf is a natural fit for this course and event.
Stenson, Casey, and Garcia rank in the top 10 in bogeys avoided over their last 100 rounds, and each of these Europeans has had success here. Stenson posted three straight finishes of T11 or better prior to a missed cut last year. Casey and Garcia finished first and fourth in 2018.
Ryan Moore also missed the cut here last year but had finishes to T18, 3rd, and 5th before that.
Charl Schwartzel won the event in 2016 and finished sixth in 2017 before a T49 last year.
Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.