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Collin Morikawa. (Photo by Matthew Bolt/Icon Sportswire)
March 16th, 2022
The Florida Swing comes to a close this week with the 2022 Valspar Championship, held annually on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Florida.
Following last weekend's Players Championship, which was impacted by severe weather and resulted in a Monday finish, a number of top-notch players will remain in Florida to compete in the 22-year-old tournament.
Co-favorites Viktor Hovland and Justin Thomas (+900) headline the 144-player field, which includes Collin Morikawa (+1200), Dustin Johnson (+1400), Xander Schauffele (+1600), and reigning champion Sam Burns (+2200).
Let’s examine the Copperhead Course design and look at the key course notes as we make our best picks for the 2022 Valspar Championship.
Designed by Larry Packard, the Copperhead Course opened in 1974 as the second of four courses located at Innisbrook, just northwest of Tampa.
A unique par 71, the 7,340-yard layout features five par 3s, four par 5s, and a final three-hole stretch known as the "Snake Pit" that contains one of the most difficult par 4s (Hole 16) on the PGA Tour.
Welcome to the snake pit at @Innisbrook. One of the most picturesque places to watch your handicap die a slow, painful death. pic.twitter.com/0gMqFbebSO— Bill Hornstein (@hornstein) September 4, 2019
Welcome to the snake pit at @Innisbrook. One of the most picturesque places to watch your handicap die a slow, painful death. pic.twitter.com/0gMqFbebSO
TifEagle Bermuda greens are back for a fourth straight week on Tour, but unlike the last three courses on the Florida Swing, elevation changes come into play at Copperhead. Tree-lined doglegs, three-inch Celebration rough, eight water hazards, and nearly 80 bunkers also pose a threat.
Recent winners at Innisbrook ranked highly in strokes gained tee to green, par-5 scoring, and birdie or better percentage putting the week of their victory.
In 2021, Sam Burns secured the lowest-winning score (17 under) since Vijay Singh's record 18-under finish in October 2004. Burns won his first Tour event at this tournament, which was played in late April last year during the PGA Tour's super season, which was modified and extended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the event returning to March, scores may be a bit higher. From 2007 to 2019, the average winning score at the Valspar Championship has been 10-under par, and saw an 8-under finish by winner Paul Casey during the most recent March edition in 2019.
One player to back for a top finish is Xander Schauffele, who has been in solid form all season, save for last weekend's Players Championship, where he missed the cut after drawing one of the later Thursday tee times that were most affected by weather.
Although he'll be making his debut at the Valspar Championship, Schauffele should bounce back at Copperhead. The 28-year-old ranks 16th on Tour in birdie or better percentage putting, 26th in strokes gained tee to green, and is tied for 32nd in par-5 scoring. He's also 18th in par-3 scoring and 25th in greens in regulation percentage.
Featured groups for @ValsparChamp:⛳️ Viktor Hovland⛳️ Abraham Ancer⛳️ Collin Morikawa🏌️♂️ Jason Kokrak🏌️♂️ Brooks Koepka🏌️♂️ Louis Oosthuizen⛳️ Shane Lowry⛳️ Graeme McDowell⛳️ Henrik Stenson🏌️♂️ Sam Burns🏌️♂️ Gary Woodland🏌️♂️ Xander Schauffele pic.twitter.com/mXyOgC0fIh— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 15, 2022
Featured groups for @ValsparChamp:⛳️ Viktor Hovland⛳️ Abraham Ancer⛳️ Collin Morikawa🏌️♂️ Jason Kokrak🏌️♂️ Brooks Koepka🏌️♂️ Louis Oosthuizen⛳️ Shane Lowry⛳️ Graeme McDowell⛳️ Henrik Stenson🏌️♂️ Sam Burns🏌️♂️ Gary Woodland🏌️♂️ Xander Schauffele pic.twitter.com/mXyOgC0fIh
Before his missed cut at TPC Sawgrass, Schauffele posted a 13th-place finish at the Genesis Invitational, third at the Phoenix Open, and landed two 12th-place finishes at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the Hero World Challenge.
Another player who will be hungry for a top finish is Keegan Bradley (+3300), who last year was tied for the lead with six holes left in the final round but unraveled to finish three strokes behind Burns.
While the 35-year-old Vermont native is coming off short rest — having played his way to a top-five finish at The Players in Monday's final round — Bradley should be able to tackle Copperhead with confidence.
He currently ranks 11th on Tour in strokes gained tee to green, 26th in strokes gained approaching the green, and is in the top 70 in par-3 scoring, birdie or better percentage putting, and strokes gained around the green.
The winner of the 2022 Valspar Championship will receive 500 FedEx Cup points and $1.404 million of a $7.8 million purse.
You can catch all the action on the following days and times:
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