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Thomas, Spieth are the top choices at the Valspar Championship

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Thomas, Spieth are the top choices at the Valspar Championship

    Written by Mike Glasscott @MikeGlasscott

    The Florida Swing finalizes at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor for the Valspar Championship.

    The fourth consecutive week on Bermuda grass is framed differently than the first three stops in the Sunshine State. The rolling hills north of Tampa have fairways lined with oaks instead of palms and almost four inches of rough this week. The familiar scorecard remains the same this year, as it has since 2011, playing Par-71 to 7,340 yards.

    Leading the charge this week on the BETMGM Sportsbook is Justin Thomas (+1000) as the Florida resident is trying to knock the top of his 2023 season. With only one top 10 from six tries since the calendar has rolled over, Valspar beckons as a soft landing spot. After a three year hiatus he returned in May 2021 with T13 before missing the playoff by a shot last year (T3). He’s 23-under over those eight rounds.

    Thomas’s good buddy Jordan Spieth (+1400) sits as the second choice on this second shot layout. The Texan flashed his potential in his first visit here with T7 in 2013 and then won a playoff in 2015. Never worse than T20 in his first four visits he MC on his last trip in 2018. With a pair of top six finishes and T19 last week, it’s easy to see why he’s hot on the heels of his friend.

    Of the field of 144 this week nobody loves this layout more than two-time defending champion Sam Burns (+1600). He’s 34-under over the last two editions and has posted 12 of 16 rounds in the 60s on one of the more demanding tracts on TOUR. The Louisiana native has taken advantage of the perfect weather the last two seasons in March (2022) and May (2021). The Copperhead Course played under par both of those years for the first time since 2012.

    After posting T7 at Sentry Tournament of Champions Matt Fitzpatrick (+1600) has ridden the roller coaster in early 2023. MC at Pebble Beach was cited as a neck injury but 65 in Round 4 at TPC Scottsdale the following week suggested all was well. His T14 on a track he loves, Bay Hill, is surrounded by MC at The Genesis Invitational and MC last week at TPC Sawgrass. Last year he posted all four rounds 67 or 68 to share fifth after MC in his only previous start in 2018.

    The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am winner Justin Rose (+2200) popped into the top 10 last week at TPC Sawgrass (T6) as well. The Englishman, like his countryman above, has missed a couple of cuts recently but there’s no ignoring his results on the Copperhead Course. In 11 tries he’s cashed nine times with every payday T30 or better. The caveat is he’s only played twice since 2015, T5 in 2018 and MC in 2021.

    Keegan Bradley (+2200) went toe-to-toe with Burns in the 2021 edition as he led after Round 1 and shared the lead after Rounds 2 and 3. Burns bested him in the final round by three shots as Bradley was looking for his first TOUR win since 2018. The pressure of securing that next win is no longer as he picked up the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP last fall. Although he MC last week, his T10 at a difficult Bay Hill and solo second at Torrey Pines shouldn’t be dismissed.

    Nobody loves Horses for Courses more than I do so Canadian Adam Hadwin (+2500) get the final spot in the lineup. The 2017 champ was one of four to post 64 and share the first-round lead last year. He sat just two off the lead after the halfway point before cashing T7, his third T12 or better in his last five starts.

    Larry Packard’s Copperhead Course rates annually by the membership as one of the toughest and fairest around. The Par-71 has four Par-5 holes plus five Par-3 holes, all of which stretch 195 yards or more. Let’s check out some more notables trying to tame “The Snake Pit” this week.

    +2500: Tommy Fleetwood

    +3300: Denny McCarthy

    +4000: Brian Harman, Davis Riley, Justin Suh, Gary Woodland, Wyndham Clark

    +5000: Aaron Rai, Ben Griffin, Brandon Wu, Maverick McNealy, Taylor Moore

    +5500: Victor Perez

    +6600: JT Poston, Jhonattan Vegas, KH Lee, Byeong Hun An, Joel Dahmen, Ryan Gerard, Stephan Jaeger

    +8000: Beau Hossler, Garrick Higgo, Ludvig Aberg, Luke List, Nate Lashley, Nick Taylor, Pierceson Coody, Robby Shelton, Tyler Duncan, Sam Ryder, Will Gordon

    +9000: Patrick Rodgers

    +10000: Akshay Bhatia, Alex Smalley, Ben Martin, Eric Cole, Joseph Bramlett, Kramer Hickok, Lee Hodges, Matthew NeSmith, SH Kim, Trey Mullinax, Webb Simpson

    On the line this week is a prize pool of $8.1 million with the winner receiving $1.458 million plus 500 FedExCup points. Similarly, to last week, the wind will blow from four different directions during the four tournament days. Sunshine starts the first two rounds then thunderstorms and rain are on the docket after the cut.

    -odds courtesy of BETMGM.COM-

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