2015 Valspar Championship Picks + Predictions, Plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #isitThursdayyet

Ham-sandwiched among the Florida Swing’s Honda Classic, WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral and Arnie’s Tourney at Bay Hill is this week’s Valspar Championship, home of the Snake Pit.  Um, talk about a not-so ringing endorsement.  Well guess what, this tournament may get overlooked by some, but I’m here to tell you that this is one of the best sleeper courses + tourneys on the PGA Tour schedule, and some top level talent is starting to take notice.

First, the course—Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course—is one of the most difficult par 71s in a non-major year after year, in fact the field averaged a score of 72.43, which was sans Pinehurst (last year’s U.S. Open host), it was the toughest par 71 on the schedule.  At 7,340 yards it’s not overly long, but with thread-the-needle tee shots and consistently firm, fast greens, it’s one of the Tour’s most demanding tracks.

As mentioned above, the field is strong again this week as more and more players love this venue.  Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Brandt Snedeker and others will be teeing it up Copperhead style this week.

Last week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship I nailed my Hosel-Rocket BUST pick on Jimmy Walker, saying he’d finish outside the top 25 in the no-cut event, which he did (t-31st); however, I pretty much cursed the rest of my picks too, as only Hideki was able to crack the top 25 (t-23rd).  Here’s to a better week of picks at Valspar.

Now, let’s hop into some picks:

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: Hideki t-23rd, Donaldson t-44th)

Henrik Stenson
Henrik Stenson
– The Swedish Terminator is making his debut at Innisbrook and while that would be concerning for some, I have no doubt that Henrik and his ball-striking prowess will contend this week.  Henrik finished t-4th at Doral last week, and now has three consecutive top 15 finishes worldwide.  If his putter heats up, he’ll find the winner’s circle again sooner than later.  If not, he’s still a top 15 machine.

Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood
– As many of you know, I’m not a Lee Westwood fan.  That being said, the dude is one helluva solid ball-striker, and I love his chances at a track like Innisbrook.  Just like Henrik, it is his tourney debut, but coming off a t-12th finish where up until fading to a Sunday 75 he was headed right towards a sneaky good top 5 finish, I still love his momentum heading into this week.  He never wins any meaningful tournaments (harsh, but true), but he’s still a Lockzilla for a top 15 finish this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Last Week: Rose 55th)

Jason Dufner
Jason Dufner
– The suddenly skinny Dufster still requires a double-take when watching him on tv, but all that aside I have a feeling that he’s on the cusp of returning to his steady, solid form.  He’s been a cash cow at Innisbrook in recent years, finishing t-14th last year, t-21st in ’13, t-10th in ’12, t-28th in ’11, t-28th in ’10 and t-17th in ’09.  Ok, so that’s nothing super lights out, but for those counting at home, that’s no worse than a t-28th finish in six straight appearances.  Ready, set, time to Duf this week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last Week: Walker t-31st)

Sangmoon Bae
Sangmoon Bae
– I continued my wicked hot roll with my Bust pick last week and intend to fully keep it rollin’ again this week as I’m calling for the South Korean man who keeps changing his name to mess up the PGA Tour standings (uppercase “M,” lowercase “m,” hyphen, no hyphen, make up your mind already would ya?!), aka Sangmoon Bae to miss the cut.  Sangmoon lost in a playoff here in ’12 and finished t-14th here last year, so a solid track record to draw from; however, following a t-8th at Torrey Pines his game has highly soured, as he wildly missed the cut at the Honda Classic and then followed it up with a snoozy t-46th last week at Doral.  Expect another weekend off from Sangmoon this week.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last Week: Joost t-46th)

Charley Hoffman
Charley Hoffman
– Amazingly, Charley Hoffman was -7 at one point during last week’s WGC-Cadillac at Doral on Saturday, only to quickly quadruple bogey his way out of contention and eventually fade to a t-38th finish.  While most will simply view the t-38th and glaze over it as a not-so-good-week, I’m telling you that his ball-striking is absolutely dialed in right now and he’s bound to contend again sooner than later.  Charley finished t-25th here last year despite a Sunday 76, was t-14th in ’12 and t-19th here in ’09.  So, rising form = sneaky solid course history = Charley Hoffman is my Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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