The First Look: Valspar Championship
April 25, 2021
By Adam Stanley , PGATOUR.COM
Paul Casey's winning highlights from Valspar
The Valspar Championship returns to the PGA TOUR schedule this season after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two-time defending champion Paul Casey returns to try to win for a record third time in Tampa.
FIELD NOTES: Reigning FedExCup champion Dustin Johnson returns to action after a T13 at the RBC Heritage… Past FedExCup winner Justin Thomas is back on the PGA TOUR for the first time since playing the Masters. Thomas sits second in the 2021 FedExCup standings… Phil Mickelson will tee it up at the Valspar Championship for the first time since 2004… Casey is joined by Adam Hadwin (2017) and Charl Schwartzel (2016) as past winners in Tampa from the last five years… Sponsor Exemptions include college standout John Augenstein, European stars Rasmus Hojgaard and Sam Horsfield, plus Chase Koepka (brother to Brooks)… Ten of the top-30 golfers in the world are teeing it up at Innisbrook.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 FedExCup points.
STORYLINES: The Valspar Championship marks the final event of the PGA TOUR schedule to take place in Florida after its series of tournaments in March… Dustin Johnson’s Valspar Championship appearance in 2019 was his third start at the event and he had a chance to win until a 3-over 74 in the final round. He’s back and looking for another good result as the race to the FedExCup heats up… Attendance at the event will be approximately 20 percent of normal capacity… Only 10 golfers since World War II have three-peated at an event on the PGA TOUR (Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Gene Littler, Stuart Appleby, Steve Stricker, and of course, Tiger Woods have all done it). Paul Casey looks to join that list this year at Innisbrook.
COURSE: Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead), par 71, 7,340 yards. Long known as a TOUR-player favorite, the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook puts a premium on positioning off the tee and is as complete an examination as TOUR players will face all year. Larry Packard’s layout near Tampa is tree-lined and all culminates at the ‘Snake Pit’ with two difficult par-4s sandwiched between the 215-yard par-3 17th. The course opened in the early 1970s.
72-HOLE RECORD: 266, Vijay Singh (2004).
18-HOLE RECORD: 61, Padraig Harrington (1st round, 2012).
LAST TIME: Paul Casey became the first golfer since the event’s inception in 2000 to defend his title. He won by one shot in 2018 over Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed, and won by the same margin – this time over Jason Kokrak and Louis Oosthuizen – in 2019. Casey, who hadn’t won the PGA TOUR in nine seasons before his 2018 win in Tampa, was steadier than anyone through a tough week in 2019 at the Copperhead Course. His 1-over 72 on Sunday was good enough, as he survived a hard exam at Innisbrook better than anyone, punctuated with a par from the fairway bunker on the 72nd hole. Bubba Watson and Sungjae Im, both at 6-under, rounded out the top five.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Television: Thursday-Friday, 2 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).
PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. ET (Featured Groups). Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. (Featured Groups), 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (Featured Holes).
Radio: Thursday-Friday, 12 p.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com/liveaudio).
TOUR Pulse: Get the PGA TOUR app to utilize TOUR Pulse, which provides users the ability to experience a mix of content, such as video highlights, written hole summaries and stat graphics on every player after every hole they complete.