The Tour has some more time in Florida, with a stop at the Innisbrook Resort and the Copperhead Course up next. The Valspar Championship tees off Thursday morning in Palm Harbor, FL. While the field has thinned out some since last weekend, there are plenty of enticing options at every price level, and here are a few you should consider rotating into your PGA lineups this weekend.
Jordan Spieth ($12,800) – He has played here three times, and not only did he get the win last year, he has never been outside the top-20. He had a somewhat lackluster weekend at the WGC-Cadillac, closing with a 73-73 to finish T17. But back on a course he clearly enjoys, he’ll look to get back on the winning track he was once again on as recently as January. It’s a lot easier to imagine him inside the top five than it is to picture him outside, say, the top twenty, and that peace of mind goes a long way towards justifying the price tag.
Henrik Stenson ($11,500) – Another top-priced player coming off a tough weekend, Stenson has a great chance to rebound here. He doesn’t often have days like last Saturday, when he shot a 76 that put him out of contention. The problem with Stenson is that he wins by avoiding mistakes, so when they do come, he doesn’t really have the game to quickly make up ground. To me, that makes him more of a cash game consideration, and an excellent one at that. He finished T3 and T6 in his two European tour events in January and February, and he finished T4 in his first appearance here last year.
Danny Willett ($10,800) – He’s never played here before, but four of the top six finishers here last year were among the leaders in Strokes Gained: Putting, and Willett is coming off a T3 last weekend in which he led the field in that particular statistic. A hot putter can go a long way, and trusting a player with a top-3 finish in two of his last three starts is easy. For the price, he still manages to be an upside play, which speaks volumes about his potential to help you in a larger tourney.
Justin Thomas ($10,000) – He finished T10 here last year, and he finished T3 just two weeks ago at the Honda Classic. So, even though he also shot a 75 and a 78 last weekend en route to a T35, it might pay off to care more about the 66 he carded last Friday. That round is evidence of the fact that he is the kind of player who can put up a huge fantasy number when he is firing on all cylinders, even if he makes a few mistakes.
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Harris English ($9,600) – He finished 10th last weekend, and he finished T10 last year on this course. He’s currently sitting at 29th in Strokes Gained: Putting, that is up from 33rd before last weekend. There might be new grass on these greens after an off-season upgrade, but the impact won’t be that large – getting off the greens quickly is still going to be key to how this leaderboard shakes out. English is capable of turning that into an advantage.
“Without having to struggle with long irons on every approach shot, he has the ability to leave himself makeable scoring chances all weekend”
Kevin Na ($9,100) – Implied in the fact that putting is going to be a key to victory is the fact that getting on the green isn’t. Which is ridiculous, of course – you have to get there first. But what it does mean is that this course manages to be difficult without being long, which suits Na’s game perfectly. Without having to struggle with long irons on every approach shot, he has the ability to leave himself makeable scoring chances all weekend.
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K.J. Choi ($8,800) – He has won here twice before, so hopefully the redesign fits his eye as well, but clearly it is a course on which he feels comfortable. Choi has recent history on his side, as well; in five starts over January and February, he had four made cuts, three top twenty finishes, and two top fives. At 45, he is not likely to keep up the hot play all summer long, so you might as well take advantage now.
Danny Lee ($8,000) – He shot an 80 last Sunday. Almost every bogey he shot all weekend came on one day, just like they did a month ago at the Phoenix Open when he closed with a 73 that dropped him out of the lead and into 4th. And while no one wants to see an 80 at any point out of their DFS pick (or even a 73), the other rounds do showcase the ability he has. He earned that 4th in Phoenix with the 67-66-67 he recorded over the first three days, and is another player who could provide solid fantasy value for the price by virtue of a bunch of birdies, no matter where he finishes, so long as he makes it to the weekend with no issues. He’s definitely more of an upside choice than someone to really trust.
Sean O’Hair ($7,800) – A former winner here (2008), he finished 2nd here last year, as well. That performance was his first good one in a while at the time, so he is actually coming into this one on a much better track. He has made four out of five cuts since the beginning of the year, including a T14 at the Honda Classic last time out. A golfer who has been playing well lately, who has had some big-time performances on this course as recently as last year, makes for a viable option in any kind of contest.
“That is as hot a streak as you’ll find for anything even close to this price…”
Sung Kang ($7,700) – He went T17, T8 and T10 in his three February appearances – Pebble Beach, the Northern Trust and the Honda Classic, respectively. That is as hot a streak as you’ll find for anything even close to this price, but his historical track record, obviously, makes him a risk. You might want to get him into at least a lineup or two going into bigger GPPs, but he is admittedly easier to ignore in a cash game format. In that T10 at the Honda Classic, he still managed 71 fantasy points, mixing in eight birdies and a pair of eagles to go along with his nine bogeys and double bogeys to land at -1 overall.
Charley Hoffman ($7,600) – After finishing inside the top 20 last weekend, Hoffman will be looking to continue – and even expand on – his momentum. On a course like Copperhead, he should have more than enough game to give himself birdie chances. And if he can take advantage of the course to set up those chances, while also carrying forward from last week the kind of putting stroke he would need to capitalize on them, he could prove to be a steal at this price in any type of contest.
Steve Stricker ($7,200) – Him being #1 on Tour in that key Strokes Gained: Putting statistic, despite missing three straight cuts prior to the Northern Trust (his most recent appearance, where he finished T11), tells me that the problems in his game were anywhere but his putter. And on a course like this one, that doesn’t demand perfect tee shots in order to get an angle at a makeable approach, Stricker should be able to rely on the best parts of his game while avoiding the worst, a recipe for success in whatever type of contest you enter.