2017 Valspar Championship Picks, Including the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #isitThursdayyet

Ham-sandwiched among the Florida Swing’s Honda Classic, WGC-Mexico Championship 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 has started 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, averaging roughly 1 stroke over par per round.  At 7,340 yards it’s not overly long and somewhat uniquely does have four par 5s (rare for a par 71).  With thread-the-needle tee shots and consistently firm, fast greens, it’s one of the Tour’s most demanding tracks.  Last year’s tourney was the debut of the course now adding Celebration Bermudagrass on its fairways, TifEagle Bermuda on its greens and also some larger tee boxes and greens to boot.

My picks last week at the WGC-Mexico Championship were just so-so, as Lockzilla Sergio Garcia notched a t-12th place finish and my Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week on Lee Westwood was looking mighty good after he was tied for the lead after day 1 and just one shot out of the lead early on Sunday, but a ridiculous 4 double bogies (FOUR) in a 6 hole stretch on Sunday caused him to balloon to a final round 78 and a t-28th place finish.  My BUST pick of the week Martin Kaymer finished a sleepy t-23rd.

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLA (Last week: Sergio t-12th)

Henrik Stenson
Henrik Stenson
– I had Henrik in OAD last week and he WD’d during round 1, which means that he’ll win this week (only half-kidding).  The Swede is a top 10 machine, posting six straight top 10s internationally, prior to last week’s debacle.  Add in that he has a solo 4th and a t-11th place finish here in two appearances and he’s definitely someone you need to pay up for this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Last week: Grillo t-52nd)

Webb Simpson
Webb Simpson
– The 2011 Valspar runner-up has three other top 20s here, despite missing the cut at the Innisbrook Copperhead course in his last two appearances.  Been in solid form of late, reeling off 7/8 in made cuts, including a playoff loss just a few weeks back in Phoenix.  A very steady pick this week with high upside.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: Kaymer t-23rd)

Wesley Bryan
– The February PGA Tour flavor of the month comes into the Valspar this week on the heels of back-to-back t-4th place finishes at The Honda Classic and The Genesis Open.  Don’t just go auto plug-and-play here though folks just due to a couple of high finishes, as he’s a first-timer at this track and struggles with accuracy off the tee at times (and is not long either).  Stay away from the rookie this week and thank me later.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last week: Westwood t-28th)

Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker
– Special shout out to the recently-turned 50 years of age Strick!  Pretty sure this is the first time that I’ve ever slotted anyone as my BOLD pick that is Champions Tour-eligible.  Calling it right now that this week’s telecast will be mighty heavy on the 50-year-old mentions.  Anyway, Strick and his sparkling career record here (plethora of top 10s, including a t-7th here last year) come in on the heels of a t-23rd place finish just a few weeks ago at Pebble Beach.  Look for another cozy top 25 finish with top 10 upside this week.


Joel Harrington



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