The PGA season has been a little all over the place lately with majors, team events and several locations on the map. After a stay in Louisiana, the tour heads back to Florida for one additional week at the Valspar Championship. After not getting this event in 2020 due to the pandemic, it’s nice to return to a familiar location and play one of the most challenging courses all season. The field isn’t major level, but it still features some of the world’s best. Let’s break down the PGA DFS picks on DraftKings and FanDuel.
The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook is going to be a difficult test for these players. It measures out as about a 7,350-yard, par-71 track featuring another animal-themed three-hole stretch. The Snake Pit is a difficult stretch of holes from 16 to 18, much like the Bear Trap at the Honda Classic. So get ready for some brutal sweats as golfers near the end of their rounds on Friday and Sunday.
One thing to note about this course is that even though it’s a par 71, there are still four par 5’s and five par 3’s. The tour is back to the traditional format with a full field of players and cutting to the top 65 after Friday, so keep that in mind while constructing rosters.
This course is going to test players in several different areas, and they will need a well-rounded game to excel here. Most players are forced to club down off the tee, as the risk of errant tee shots can be deadly, which leads them to having long-range approach shots to the green. Finding players who excel tee-to-green will be important, especially on long-range approach shots (200-plus yards).
Another avenue is finding players who are solid in bogey avoidance. Limiting the big numbers is going to play a massive role, unlike some weeks where birdie-or-better percentage is by far the most important factor. If it’s windy – which is common at this place – it will put even more importance on players who avoid the blowup holes and can grind out quality rounds in tough conditions. The greens are Bermuda, so keep that in mind, but it is not a primary factor this week.
This week is a standard PGA Tour field with some big names at the top and plenty of PGA Tour regulars looking for a breakthrough win. Working down, the pedigree and resumes drop, but the field is filled with players who have plenty of experience on tour, even at the lowest salary ranges.
Pricing kicks off with Justin Thomas taking over the top salary spot, followed by Dustin Johnson. Two-time defending champion Paul Casey rounds out the $10,000-plus options this week his will be a name heard a lot given his past success at this event.
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How to Deal With This Event Not Being Played Last Year?
This is not a major storyline, but the fact that this event hasn’t been played since 2019 is something to take note of. Casey won in both 2018 and 2019, and due to the pandemic, he still is the two-time defending champion at Copperhead. More important is the multitude of players with just a few reps at the course and none since the 2019 season. A lot can happen in that timeframe on the PGA Tour, as guys find and lose their game seemingly at every turn.
Normally when looking at course history, the goal is to pair that up with course fit and where a player’s form is. Sure, there’s always someone like Collin Morikawa who just hits the ground running, but for every one of him, there are five guys who need some time to develop. The time between Valspar Championship events leaves a lot of room for players to tweak their games. Look to target some of those players who have low ownerships because of the course history.
PGA DFS Picks: The Valspar Championship
Top Priced – Justin Thomas $11,500 DraftKings, $12,300 FanDuel
Thomas is the betting favorite according to OddsShopper at 10-1. With Johnson and Casey both garnering interest from the field according to the Awesemo PGA DFS ownership projections, it should create a situation where Thomas is popular but not extremely so. Awesemo projects him under 20% owned, which is an appealing buy spot for one of the world’s best.
Thomas rarely, if ever, misses cuts. In 2021, he missed one cut but returned a few weeks later to win at The Players Championship. TPC Sawgrass has some similarities to Copperhead, and Thomas is as more trustworthy than anyone else in this field. With so many players available to choose, paying this price isn’t difficult at all.
Also considering – Paul Casey, Sungjae Im
Mid-Range – Emiliano Grillo $8,300 DraftKings, $9,800 FanDuel
Don’t look now, but Grillo is playing some of his best golfer ever. After finishing sixth at a weak Corales Puntacana event, he nearly won the RBC Heritage, finishing runner-up to Stewart Cink. Grillo gained a massive 10.4 strokes tee to green, and most of that damage was done with the irons. That’s the formula he has used his entire career, but lately his putter has picked up as well. At Heritage, Grillo gained 1.7 strokes putting. He now has positive strokes gained putting in three of his last five starts, which may not seem like much, but it is for him. Pairing his elite ball striking with just an average week on the greens is the recipe for a win. He does not have much experience at the Valspar, but on paper it should be a fit for him. He is at a reasonable mid-range tag, and he makes sense in a variety of formats and builds, according to the Awesemo PGA DFS projections.
Also considering – Keegan Bradley
Lower Priced – Luke List $7,000 DraftKings, $8,400 FanDuel
If spending up at the top, it will be necessary to find value to round out teams. Fortunately, there are a ton of reasonable names, each with some risk/reward potential. List is projecting to be sub-5% in Awesemo’s PGA DFS ownership this week and has shown some signs of form recently. He is coming off a 58th-place finish at Heritage, but the story was that he gained 4.4 strokes with the irons while losing 5.4 strokes with the putter. It’s not to say that will magically change this week, but that’s much better than the opposite distribution of strokes gained data.
List is at a reasonable $7,000 tag, and given his upside and ownership, this is a spot worth attacking. According to Awesemo’s PGA DFS projections, List is basically a coin flip to find the weekend. His ability to attack par 5’s while utilizing his longer irons is going to be key, and he is an average putting week away from returning major value.
Also Considering – Sepp Straka, Alexander Noren
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