This article is part of our FanDuel PGA DFS Picks series.
Course: Innisbrook Resort - Copperhead Course (7,340 yards, par 71)
Winner: $1,458,000 and 500 FedExCup points
The PGA Tour's Florida Swing will conclude this week at the Copperhead Course just north of Tampa at Innisbrook Resort. Many Tour pros consider this course their favorite on the Florida Swing. It certainly differentiates itself with its tree-line fairways, elevation changes, and undulating greens. It is a par 71 that features five par-3s and four par-5s while stretching in excess of 7,300 yards.
The Valspar Championship has seen just two different champions since 2018. Paul Casey won back-to-back tournaments in 2018 and 2019, then Sam Burns won two in a row in 2021 and 2022. The 2020 edition of the Valspar Championship was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Burns will be looking to become the first player since Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic to win the same PGA Tour event in three consecutive years (2009-11).
After two straight elevated events at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship, and another one next week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, there are quite a few top players that will be taking this week off to rest as we hit the stretch run to the Masters. That being said, this year's Valspar Championship will still include some big names highlighted by three-time major champion Jordan Spieth, two-time major champion Justin Thomas, and former U.S. Open champions in Matt Fitzpatrick and Justin Rose. There is also some potential future stars of the the Tour that received sponsor exemptions this week highlighted by Pierceson Coody, Cole Hammer, and Ludvig Aberg. Ryder Cup Captains Zach Johnson and Luke Donald will also be teeing it up at the Copperhead Course.
Even in perfect conditions this place is pretty tough to post a good score. From 2013-19 the winning score here was not more than 10-under-par, with the exception of Adam Hadwin in 2017 when he posted 14-under. That being said Sam Burns won by three in 2021 at -17 and then again at -17 last year when he defeated Davis Riley in a playoff. Thursday and Friday look to be clear from precipitation, but it might be worth checking the draws with Friday expected to bring much stronger winds than Thursday. Saturday is the big question mark with a strong chance of thunderstorms. A delay at some point seems inevitable, but luckily it looks like things should clear up on Sunday and we can hopefully avoid a Monday finish. Scoring should be tough in the opening two rounds which will likely lead to an over-par cut, but they won't be able to hide flagsticks on the golf course if we get a downpour on Saturday, even with steady 15 mile per hour winds expected over the weekend.
2022 - Sam. Burns (-17)
2021 - Sam Burns (-17)
2020 - None
2019 - Paul Casey (-8)
2018 - Paul Casey (-10)
2017 - Adam Hadwin (-14)
2016 - Charl Schwartzel (-7)
2015 - Jordan Spieth (-10)
2014 - John Senden (-7)
2013 - Kevin Streelman (-10)
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Approach
- GIR Percentage
- Driving Accuracy
- SG: Around-the-Green
Innisbrook has been a positional type of course. There aren't a lot of corners to cut and you don't always have to hit driver. The rough has been raised this year as well, which will only increase the emphasis on driving accuracy. One thing that has to be on this week is your iron play. There are five par-3's this week, all of which are over 190 yards. That combined with that most players will be playing from the same areas means there is a ton of strokes to gain, and also lose, approaching these greens. This is another one of those weeks where because there will be a lot of long clubs coming into the greens, GIR numbers are going to be lower across the board. That will in turn place emphasis on SG: Around-the-Green and scrambling numbers. The TifEagle bermuda surfaces are some of the smoothest on Tour and will be prepped to run around 12.5 on the Stimpmeter, of course dependent on the weather. Getting a player that has putted well over this Florida Swing I think would be a nice bonus, but approach and around-the-green will be my top priorities at the Copperhead Course.
FanDuel Value Picks
Jordan Spieth ($11,900)
Spieth is typically a player I avoid in DFS because you really never know what you're going to get when he starts a round, but I trust him the most this week among all these top options. He is coming off a solid T19 finish at TPC Sawgrass, which has been a course that has given him fits over the years. He has now nabbed top-20 finishes in three of his last four and now goes to Innisbrook where granted he hasn't played in awhile, but does own four top-20s in five starts including a win in 2015. Spieth has seemed to figure out his iron play over the last month and as we know he has one of the best short games on Tour.
Adam Hadwin ($10,900)
Hadwin has hade a consistent season going 10-for-11 with five top-25's, including last week at The Players. The Canadian has been a bit of mixed bag at Innisbrook, but three of his last five starts here were inside the top-12, including that win in 2017. Hadwin is gaining strokes across the board this season and ranks top-50 on Tour in driving accuracy, SG: Approach, scrambling, and putts per GIR.
Justin Suh ($10,400)
Well the No. 1 player on the Korn Ferry Tour last year has gone T5-T24-T6 through the first three legs of the Florida Swing, so why not ride him again on these bermuda greens? It was definitely a tricky transition to the PGA Tour, but Suh is here to stay it looks like. He has gained on approach in his last five measures tournaments, gained putting in five of his last six, and was able to gain over five strokes around-the-green last week at TPC Sawgrass.
Wyndham Clark ($10,300)
Clark had another solid week at TPC Sawgrass and made his 10th cut in a row. It really his his iron play that has made him take off. Over his last five starts, Clark is gaining on average 3.7 strokes approaching the green per tournament. The Oregon product hasn't even putted well over that stretch or else we may have seen a few more top-10's. Clark has historically been a really strong putter and this new found control with the irons has me really excited about his prospects at Innisbrook.
Longer Shots with Value
Jhonattan Vegas ($9,600)
Vegas had an off week at TPC Sawgrass and missed the cut, but I'm going to trust the whole body of work here in regards to the elite ball-striking of this player. Vegas had gained strokes ball-striking in his previous eight starts, and also gained around the greens in five of those events. The 38-year-old came out firing last year at the Valspar when he opened with 64 before later fading to a T27.
Ben Martin ($9,000)
Martin is in the mix of a good stretch of golf, notching four top-35 finishes over his last seven starts, including a T5 at the Honda Classic. The veteran's lack of distance should hinder him too much at Innisbrook, but his iron play should put him in position to excel. Martin ranks 28th in SG: Approach and 21st in GIR percentage this season. He has made the cut in two of his three career starts in this event.
David Lingmerth ($8,400)
If you're looking for a boom-or-bust type play, Lingmerth is certainly your man. After his T6 last week at TPC Sawgrass he now has a whopping five top-11 finishes already this season. The other side is that he has only made 7-of-14 cuts. Lingmerth is one of the most accurate drivers on Tour and has the ability to really pop with the putter. He has never missed a cut in four starts at the Valspar Championship.
Russell Knox ($8,300)
Knox's iron play puts him on the radar at a great price this week. Even with his lack of distance, the Scot ranks 13th in SG: Approach, 17th in GIR percentage, and fifth in proximity to the hole this season. If you look at his recent finishes, you are going to see four missed cuts, but three of those were designated events. In a weaker field, and at a course he has had a lot of success at (7-for-9 with four top-25s), Knox is a strong bounceback candidate.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
After two straight loaded fields with a ton of options at every level, we are back to a weaker field similar to the Honda Classic where we need to focus on trying to get six players to the weekend. I don't really love the top of the board this week outside of Spieth. Justin Thomas ($12,000) hasn't been hitting the ball this year like he is capable of, Burns ($11,700) has fallen off big time from a career year in 2022, and Fitzpatrick ($11,500) is still dealing with a neck injury that has affected his play. The good news is there are a number of solid players in the $9,000-$10,500 range that fit this week's profile and have played some good golf recently. Ben Griffin ($10,200), K.H. Lee ($9,800), Taylor Moore ($9,700) and Robby Shelton ($9,200) are other players in that range not mentioned above that I'll be considering.
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