Burns, Baby Burns: Sam Burns looks to make it three straight wins at Valspar
4 Min Read
Written by Mike Glasscott @MikeGlasscott
The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor provides the final canvas of the Florida Swing for the Valspar Championship.
Home to a PGA TOUR event since 2000, the Copperhead Course is annually lauded for being tough but fair. The scorecard has barely changed in the last decade, as Larry Packard’s 1971 design has stood the test of time and the changes in technology.
Tipping out at 7,340 yards and playing to par 71, the oak-lined layout has FIVE par-3 holes and FOUR par-5 challenges.
The closing three holes are known as “The Snake Pit” and will ultimately decide the tournament. The pros will argue there are more than three difficult holes on this course!
Below is a look at some of the Copperhead specialists, starting with the man seeking a three-peat:
Sam Burns (+1600) may not be the favorite at BETMGM Sportsbook, but he absolutely loves this classic design situated just north of Tampa. Shifted from March to late April for the 2021 edition, the weather was absolutely perfect and the scores reflected the change. Last season Mother Nature allowed the field to set the scoring record (70.231) and Burns was the lowest of the bunch again. Posting his last eight rounds in the 60s, he matches Webb Simpson (+10000) for the longest streak in tournament history. Folks, it’s not easy this week! Don’t be fooled just because Burns has posted nine of 12 career rounds in the 60s and T12 or better each time out, while never missing the cut in four tries.
Justin Thomas (+1000) joins the crew who has experience on this track in all conditions. During his first visit in 2015 (T10) the Copperhead Course played the 10th-most difficult on TOUR. The following season it dropped to the sixth-most difficult as he cashed T18. The best two results (score and finish) are the last two editions, as he missed the playoff last year by a shot and was T13 in 2021.
The optimist in me believes Jordan Spieth (+1200) has returned at the perfect time. The 2015 champ hasn’t played since 2018 (MC), but he won’t have to adjust for anything he experienced the last two years when scoring was record-setting. The Texan flashed clues on what was to come in his debut in 2013 (T7) when the track ranked No. 7 on TOUR in difficulty. He’s cashed in four of five, with all going for T20 or better.
All Davis Riley (+3300) did on his first visit was set the 54-hole scoring record (-18) and post 62 in Round 3. So much for a learning curve in March! Riley fell just short in a playoff from joining Gary Woodland (+4000) in 2011 as a winner in his debut.
I know he’s played just the last two editions, but Matthew NeSmith (+10000) joins Burns and Thomas as the only players to cash in the top 25 the last two years (among those entered this week). Of his eight career rounds, all are par or better and he tied the course record (61) last year in Round 2 while setting the 36-hole tournament record. He has run out of gas on Sunday the last two years with 71, but if the wind blows from all over the shop and the forecasted rain hits, he'll gladly take that again!
(events/cuts made, odds)
Adam Hadwin (4/7; +2500): The 2017 champ followed up with T12 in his defense before missing the cut the next two seasons. Opened 64-66 last year before eventually returning to the top 10 (T7).
Justin Rose (9/11; +2200): All nine weekends have gone for T30 or better in a stretch from 2004 to last year. Not required to play this week, so putting it on his schedule after MC (74-73) last year stands out as well.
Matt Fitzpatrick (1/2; +1600): Posted four rounds of 68 or better last year (T5) to wash out the MC from 2018. Co-led the field in GIR and was T6 in Fairways.
Denny McCarthy (3/3; +3300): Not many are perfect around here! Interestingly enough his best finish is T9 in 2019 when this course played as the third-most difficult non-major on the schedule.
Luke Donald (12/13; +20000): The 2012 winner has five top 10s and eight top 25s from his 12 weekends, so not many run better here. Streak is now four consecutive weekends here with the best of the bunch also from 2019 (T9).
Kevin Streelman (7/12; +15000): The 2013 champ hit for T7 last year after three straight weekends heading home early. This is the site of his first win on TOUR.
On the line this week is a prize pool of $8.1 million, with the winner receiving $1.458 million plus 500 FedExCup points. The field of 144 will have two nice days to make the cut, then perhaps storms and rain to grind out the final 36 holes.
-odds courtesy of BETMGM.COM-
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