2019 Valspar Championship
The PGA Tour heads to Palm Harbor, Fla., this week for the final leg of its Florida Swing – the Valspar Championship on Innisbrook Resort’s difficult Copperhead Course.
While the atmosphere won’t be as intense as last week’s Players Championship – and not a lot of tournaments are – you can bet that the Copperhead Course will require a player’s undivided attention.
The stellar field heading straight over from Ponte Vedra, includes defending champion Paul Casey, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and Players runner-up Jim Furyk.
So which players should you be keeping a close eye on at what is one of the hardest courses on the PGA Tour each season?
We reached out to three caddies on the ground for answers. To protect their identity, each caddie anonymously gave us three players to watch and the reasons why.
Here’s who they like…
- Kevin Kisner. “Kevin has been getting his game back together of late. Solid performances in a handful of recent events (has finished no worse than T28 in each of his last give events and hasn’t missed a cut since the beginning of November) suggests momentum is swinging his way. Innisbrook can be a punch in the face at times, so you need to be tough to win there. There’s not many tougher than Kevin.”
- Lucas Glover. “I’m so invested in Lucas Glover that I can’t turn my back on him now. Missing the cut at last week’s Players was a huge surprise to me after three consecutive top-10 finishes heading into TPC Sawgrass. I’m sure that didn’t settle well, and he’ll be firing on all cylinders this week. Not unlike the rest of the Florida Swing, there’s no accidental winners at Innisbrook. You must hit it from the middle of the club face a lot, and LG is doing this right now.”
- Patrick Reed. “Although he hasn’t been a fixture at the top of leaderboards this season, he still hasn’t played poorly. He has been there about. He has good history at Innisbrook with a couple recent runners up, and he’s driving the ball great – a key factor in winning on this track.”
- Brandt Snedeker. “Brandt had a good finish at The Players with a T5 that included stellar weekend rounds of 65-69. He was in the last group here at Valspar last year, but finished with a disappointing 78 to tie for 31st. He’s got some unfinished business here. Plus, he’s back to a familiar coach in Todd Anderson, so look for him to have a strong week.”
- Charl Schwartzel. “It’s hard to believe, but Schwartzel has only two victories on the PGA Tour (he’s got 11 on the European Tour). One was the 2011 Masters and the other was right here at the 2016 Valspar Championship. Not bad at all. It’s a course that rewards ball strikers and he’s one of the best. The ball-striking and the good vibes at a place where he’s won before should serve Schwartzel well this week.”
- Jon Rahm. “Jon had a disappointing finish last week at The Players (T12), where he took a one-stroke lead into the final round, but he’s good enough to leave it behind him. He’s got five top-10 finishes in eight starts this year, so he’s definitely due to pick off his first Tour win since the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge.”
- Ryan Moore. “This course puts an emphasis on accuracy. Ryan is one of the straightest guys on Tour. He’s got a couple of top-5 finishes at Innisbrook previously, so the course is one that fits his eye.”
- Patrick Reed. “The reigning Masters champ has been a runner-up at Innisbrook twice before. Though he hasn’t made a ton of noise this season just yet, he has been incredibly consistent – hasn’t missed a cut in eight starts and six of those yielded a top-25 finish. He could win at any time. Maybe that time is this week.”
- Dustin Johnson. “No. 1 in the world, three top-10s, including a win, in his last three starts. When DJ is in the field, you don’t bet against him.”