Valspar Championship preview, picks + predictions, plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #SnakePit

Sandwiched among The Honda Classic, WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral and Bay Hill, it’d certainly be easy to overlook this week’s Valspar Championship.  I mean, all 4 Florida swing tourneys can’t be premiere events, right?  Not if host course Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course has anything to say about it. 

Last season, the Copperhead Course played as the most difficult par 71 in a non-major at +1.22 strokes to par (a five-year high).  At 7,340 yards it’s not overly long from PGA Tour standards, but with demanding tee shots into tree-lined fairways and firm, fast greens make it one of the Tour’s most demanding tracks.

Just like Golf Channel glamorized “The Bear Trap” a couple weeks ago at the Honda Classic, you’ll hear similar gushing over Coppherhead’s “Snake Pit” this week, which encompasses holes 16-17-18, a demanding finish that played a cumulative of over .6 strokes to par last year (half of the entire course’s average over par for the year).

A bit of a soft week for my picks last week at Doral as Adam Scott, Luke Donald, Harris English and Sergio Garcia all notched top 25s, but no top 10s (Although I did correctly nail Victor Dubuisson as my bust pick of the week).

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: Scott t-25th, Donald t-25th)

Luke Donald
Luke Donald
– Was on the Englishman in this same spot last week, and even with a 2nd round 82 he still managed to tie for 25th.  Won here in a playoff in ’12, which he preceded with a t-6th in ’10 and followed with a t-4th last year.  No doubt about it, Luke is extra motivated in working hard to prep his game for Augusta.  Fully expecting a top 5 from him this week.

Will Mackenzie
Will MacKenzie
– Normally I wouldn’t ever consider a player to be a LOCKZILLA with no positive course history at a particular venue, but Will Mackenzie seems to have gone through a rebirth of sorts with his game, which he’s rolled into three top 10s already this season (including t-6th in his last start at Honda).   A solid driver of the golf ball and 17th in Strokes Gained putting, love his chances to notch another sneaky top 10 this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Last Week: English t-16th)

Gary Woodland
Gary Woodland
– Everyone remembers their first….PGA Tour victory that is.  Gary burst through for his first ever PGA Tour win here in ’11 and will always have this tourney circled on his calendar each season.  Finished a solid t-16th at Doral last week in a stacked field and is feeling comfortable in his new Callaway equipment which he switched to at the end of last year.  Not expecting a win from Gary this week, but also not expecting any worse than a top 15.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last Week: Dubuisson t-62nd)

Louis Oosthuizen
Louis Oosthuizen
– Louis clearly isn’t healthy, yet continues to play every week.  With a big tourney like the Masters on the horizon, you’d think that he’d have the sense to take a couple of weeks off to be prepared.  Louis missed the cut here last year and struggled at Doral last week.  Expect another weekend off for the South African this week.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last Week: Sergio t-16th)

Luke Guthrie
Luke Guthrie
– Luke has the talent to be one of the next young breakouts on the PGA Tour and has been steadily working himself into contention each week.  Four top 25s this season, including a Sunday pairing with Tiger Woods at The Honda Classic where he wore red to send a bold message to Tiger and to the rest of the Tour.  I’m disregarding his MC here last year as he’s maturing and really finding his way on Tour.  Expecting four solid rounds and a hefty dose of contention from Luke this week.

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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