There is no sign of the PGA Tour slowing down coming off the back of a huge event last week with the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The world number one, Jordan Spieth, heads the field at the Valspar Championship which begins on Thursday in Florida. Spieth goes into the event as the defending champion after he displayed some brilliant ball striking to win around the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbour, Florida, 12 months ago.
If anybody wants to snatch the title from Spieth’s grasp they are going to have to control their ball incredibly well. Not only is the Copperhead Course a very narrow test with tree lined fairways and water hazards throughout, but the wind is forecast to blow very strongly. Only those who hit a high number of fairways off the tee are going to have a chance of winning as few people in the world possess Spieth’s ability to hit greens from dodgy positions as he did last year when ranking outside the top 50 in terms of driving accuracy.
The vagaries of the Copperhead Course give rise to the view that this is an event where previous course form is an important factor. However, the course has undergone a number of changes since last year’s renewal so that could open the door slightly for debutants.
One such first timer at the Valspar Championship who could just surprise the pundits this week is Graeme McDowell. It is fair to say that the Northern Irishman is not quite at the height of his powers any more but he remains a very good player on both the PGA and European Tours and this just the sort of course he has excelled before. McDowell’s previous three PGA Tour wins – including his 2010 U.S. Open win – all came at fiddly courses where hitting fairways and greens was of utmost importance and that makes the 40/1 that Bet365 are offering look too big.
The general consensus is that Jordan Spieth is not playing very well at the moment. Whether it’s a pre-major slump or the effects of his globetrotting schedule, people have been quick to criticise the man who won two majors after winning the 2015 Valspar Championship. However, his results have been far from poor. He’s won and claimed two top 25 finishes on the PGA Tour whilst competing towards the top of the leaderboard in his two outings on the European and Asian Tours in recent months. Spieth is confident around this course and has the golf brain to be able to get comfortable with the changes quickly enough to be the man to beat at odds of 11/2 with Betfred.
If Spieth is considered a course specialist than God knows how to describe K J Choi. The South Korean has won this event twice and time and time again has shown that he is at his best around relatively short courses where accuracy is vital. Choi has also shown an ability to deal with blustery conditions and should they materialise this week his chances will surely only improve so get on board with an each way bet at huge odds of 50/1 with Ladbrokes.