After a really fun week that saw Dustin Johnson bounce back from a rough putting first round to take down the WGC Mexico Championship and really set himself up to keep that world #1 ranking for a long time, we’re headed back to Florida for another fun, but weaker field tournament with the Valspar Championship.
This is a tough course that will often play over par for more than half the field and avoiding bogeys will be key. There are 5 par 3’s and 4 par 5’s on the course, which means par 4 scoring won’t be quite as important as during a normal week, but strokes gained tee to green is still a very important stat I’m looking at as this is a strategic course where players who can keep the ball in the fairway and get their approaches on the right level of the green is key. The greens are long and narrow which makes them somewhat difficult to hit with the long irons that will be required for several approach shots. For this reason scrambling and strokes gained around the green are another two key stats that kept popping up when looking at past winners and top 5 finishers at this event.
Below I’ll provide my 6 top outright winner picks for the week. I’ll be using the best odds available from any of our top rated sportsbooks which you can see in the table below.
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Henrik Stenson 10/1 @ SportsInteraction.com
Stenson withdrew last week at the WGC-Mexico Championship, but it wasn’t a physical injury he was dealing with, but rather the stomach flu. Stenson has shown an ability to return from WD’s with big performances in the past and it’s hard to argue that he isn’t the best all-around golfer in this tournament.
Stenson finished 4th and 11th in this tournament in the past two years and his long iron and tee to green game match up nicely with this course. He’s also been scrambling very well in the two tournaments he’s played this year and he very rarely makes bogeys, which should allow him to stay near the top of the leaderboard this week.
Gary Woodland 28/1 @ Bet365.com
Woodland is probably the third best overall golfer in this field behind Stenson and Thomas. He finished 32nd last week in Mexico, which may be why his odds are a bit longer than they should be here. That said he’s still in very good form with 5th and 2nd places to go along with that 38th in his last 3 tournaments.
Woodlands stats also line up very well with the course. He has great long iron play, he’s 24th in bogey avoidance on tour, 32nd in scrambling, 15th strokes gained approach and 18th strokes gained tee to green. He has missed the cut twice in the last four years at this event, but he’s coming into a tournament he knows very well in very good form, so I think taking him at 28/1 is a very solid play.
Bill Haas 30/1 @ SportsInteraction.com **TOP BET**
Haas is my favourite bet this week. He lines up amazingly for this course and has had success in the past. He finished 2nd here last year and 14th in 2014, while skipping the tourney in 2015. Haas is tops on the PGA in both bogey avoidance and scrambling this year and he’s playing solid coming in with 32nd, 11th, 17th and 13th place finishes in his last four events.
Haas generally performs well in weaker field events and I think there is a great chance he at least top 5’s this week, so betting him 30/1 each-way is my favourite play this week.
Graham DeLaet 45/1 @ Bet365.com
I wouldn’t normally like playing DeLaet at this price, but he’s just been playing so well of late that you have to think he matches up well against this field. DeLaet has finished 10th, 17th and 9th in his last three outings on the PGA Tour and has had a ton of success at Valspar in the past finishing 5th, 8th and 17th in his last 3 tournaments here.
DeLaet doesn’t really match up with my key stats this week, but you can’t argue with his success at this tourney and his form coming into the week.
Martin Laird 65/1 @ SportsInteraction.com
Laird matches up beautifully with my key stats this week. He’s a great long iron player and is ranked 16th in bogey avoidance to this point in the season. His scrambling and strokes gained around the green are both very respectably ranked in the 20’s and his tee to green game is ranked 21st on tour.
Laird has three top 10 finishes in his 5 most recent tournaments this season and coming off an 8th place finish at the Genesis Open looks to be in good form. He hasn’t had much success at this tournament in the past, but at this price I still like him to get over the hump and into the winners circle.
Ollie Schniederjans 69/1 @ SportsInteraction.com
Schniederjans will likely be a mainstay in my pick 6 articles this year because I think with his talent it’s only a matter of time before he wins a tournament on the PGA Tour. His stats are fairly average among my key stats for the week, but his form is very strong having made 6 out of 6 cuts and finding himself in the top 10 on two occasions. In a field that is missing many of the top golfers in the world I really like Ollie’s chances at this price point to get his first PGA win.