2018 Valspar Championship PGA Odds & Prediction

Posted by Michael Hunt on Tuesday,March 6, 2018 8:32, EDT in

The PGA Tour took a one-week detour off the Florida Swing to head to Mexico, and Phil Mickelson won the WGC-Mexico Championship, his first victory anywhere since the 2013 British Open. Lefty is taking a well-deserved break this week as the Tour returns to Florida – the Tampa Bay area to be more precise – for the Valspar Championship. The PGA odds favorite at our online sportsbook is the highest-ranked player in the field, American Jordan Spieth (+700).

2018 Valspar Championship PGA Odds & Prediction

When: Thursday-Sunday, Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course, Palm Harbor, Fla.
TV: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-3 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (NBC).
Streaming on PGA Tour Live: Thursday-Friday, 6:45 a.m.-3 p.m. (featured groups), 3-6 p.m. (featured holes).
Radio: Thursday-Friday, noon-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).

It’s a big-time treat for those living in the Tampa Bay area as Tiger Woods will play the tournament for the first time – he’ll also play next week down the road in Orlando at Arnold Palmer’s event at Bay Hill. Because the Valspar is the week before that big tournament, the Valspar usually struggled to draw a great field.

But it’s an excellent one this year with five of the world’s Top 13. Rory McIlroy is also set to make his tournament debut, and Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, and Adam Scott are among the other big names in the field with Tiger. Simply because of Woods, Valspar organizers will open up two additional parking lots to handle 5,000 to 6,000 more spots.

Perhaps not everyone is happy about Woods playing here. Jonathan Randolph, the 266th-ranked player in the world, would have had a place in the Valspar Championship, but Woods’ decision meant Randolph’s spot was no more. Woods is still able to pick and choose which Tour events he enters because he has a high ranking on the PGA Tour priority list. Tiger has previously played at Innisbrook – at the 1996 JC Penney Mixed Team event when he was paired with former U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kelli Kuehne.

Woods has made three starts in the 2017-18 PGA Tour season, including a tie for 12th in his last start at The Honda Classic. That’s his best result on Tour since a T-10 at the 2015 Wyndham Championship.

What’s Interesting About This Court?

Copperhead is an unusual Florida style course in that it’s very hilly and tree-lined – like you would find in the Midwest or Northeast. It’s a par 71 measuring 7,340 yards. Two of Copperhead’s par-5s feature double doglegs, putting a premium on positioning to reach the green in two. It’s best known for the “Snake Pit,” two bruising par-4s sandwiched around the 215-yard 17th. The “Snake Pit” ranked No. 4 once again among last year’s toughest three-hole closing stretches, averaging .472 strokes over par. Two years ago, the course underwent an extension renovation in which the fairways were changed to Celebration Bermudagrass and the greens were switched to TifEagle Bermuda.

Which player is a safe bet in the 2018 Valspar Championship?

The defending champion is Canadian Adam Hadwin, and it remains his lone victory. On Sunday a year ago, Hadwin lost a two-shot lead with one swing on the 16th hole when his tee shot sailed into the water and led to double bogey. Hadwin kept his wits and closed with two pars, the final one good enough for a one-shot victory over Patrick Cantlay.

Cantlay came up well short and missed his 15-foot par putt to force a playoff. Hadwin ranked second in strokes gained: approach-the-green (SGATG), fifth in strokes gained: tee-to-green (SGTTG) and fourth in strokes gained: putting (SGP), while also ranking T-5 in greens in regulation (GIR) and fifth in proximity to hole. Statistically, iron play (GIR, SGATG, proximity) is big this week, as is positioning off the tee, par-5 scoring and par-3 scoring. Hadwin has racked up three top-10 finishes in his last five starts, including a T-9 finish last week in Mexico, and seems poised to make a strong title defense.

How Well Has the Favorite Done in this Event?

Spieth won here in 2015 at 10 under, beating Sean O’Hair and Patrick Reed in a playoff. Spieth hasn’t finished worse than 20th in his career at this tournament.

McIlroy is a +1200 second-favorite. He has struggled on the PGA Tour this season after back-to-back Top 3s in the Middle East to start 2018 on the European Tour. Rose and Garcia at +1600. Rose won three times internationally to close 2017, but his T-37 finish in Mexico City last week was his worst finish since MC at PGA Championship. Garcia was T7 last week in Mexico. Sergio hasn’t played here since 2013.

Expert 2018 Valspar Championship Betting Prediction

Let’s go with Sweden’s Henrik Stenson at +1800. This is a ball-striker’s course and Stenson is the consummate iron specialist. He hasn’t won here yet but has been no worse than T11 in three trips.