The TOUR’s swing through Florida continues this week as they stick to only the sunniest and prettiest venues this time of year to make those of us living in the Northern half of the country feel foolish. Why don’t we live where it is warm and sunny again? Remind me, please. Next week, the Arnold Palmer Invitational marks the end of this part of the PGA season, but for this weekend, the pros find themselves wrestling with Copperhead, the legendary course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, FL for the Valspar Championship.
Some top players from around the world, such as Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott and Justin Rose, have been stateside for a few weeks, or showed up last weekend for the WGC event, so the depth of the field carries over somewhat into this week. I suppose these players either figure they might as well stay and compete once they have made the trip across the pond, or they are just killing time until the Arnold Palmer next weekend, or some of the even bigger events coming up next month as lead-ins to the year’s first major.No matter the reason, the choices you have to make among all these top players are going to define your experience with Daily Fantasy Golf this weekend, but it is worth paying attention to the course these guys will be contending with as well.
The Copperhead Course is going to look very different from the last few courses we’ve seen in Florida, as this course is nowhere near as flat or as wet as you’d expect for the Sunshine State. With some big changes in elevation and lush trees lining many of the holes, it looks like they might be playing in Georgia or North Carolina. And coming in at over 7,300 yards, the course offers up plenty of challenges.
Since the course became a March mainstay on the Tour in 2007, the winning score has ranged from -4 to -15, which shows that, at least, the potential is there for some big fantasy scores. The years where the winners finished with low scores, it’s not as if they ran away with it – there were plenty of other low scores then too.
The shots here are makable. You can make birdies on plenty of these holes (well, not you, but the pros – they can make birdies), but you have to be consistent. The tee shots and the approach both require accuracy, and a player can get himself into trouble missing on either one – just take a look at the Par 5 14th. The signature hole has a unique double-dogleg, with the inside corners protected well enough that it becomes virtually impossible to even attempt to reach in fewer than three shots, and positioning becomes more important than distance on a 590-yard hole.
This is a tournament where you have to target shotmakers. Maybe that means riding the hot hand, or just targeting guys who you know are capable on going below par when the opportunity presents itself, even if they occasionally mix in those negative holes, too. Only two players have ever won this tournament twice, no one has won it more than that, and the names on top of the leaderboard the last few years were John Senden, Kevin Streelman, and Luke Donald – Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott aren’t the only two with a legit change of taking this thing down.
All of which means your tournaments are wide open too – whatever strategy your pursue, stocking up on mid-range talent or taking some long shots to pay for those studs, you could end up being right. This is the kind of weekend where you could see five totally different lineups in the top five of your tournaments, where very different player combinations could work, and work well. Good luck.