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Valspar Championship Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 03/12/2014

One of the strongest fields of the season last week saw Patrick Reed build a sizable on Sunday and held on to take the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The tour now heads to the Westin Innisbrook-Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Florida for the Valspar Championship, formerly known as the Tampa Bay Championship, and the Transitions Championship before that. The field strength goes down this week coming off a WGC event but there are plenty of big names.

Only one top ten player in the world is in the field, Justin Rose, while 10 of the top 30 are teeing it up. Some of the notables are Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald, Jason Dufner and Webb Simpson but after that, it is pretty thin which means a decent underdog could take it. It is interesting to note that five of the last eight winners were 35 years of age or older, including Luke Donald two years ago, which shows experience plays a big role.

After ranking the fourth hardest par 71 on tour three years ago (out of 11), Copperhead ranked as the fifth easiest on tour two years ago but last year, it was ranked as the hardest par 71 on tour. But as evidenced two years ago, it can be tamed as long as mistakes are kept at a minimum. This is where the veteran experience comes into play. Keeping the ball in the fairway is a must as the layout is tight so players that are wayward off the tee will be penalized. Driving distance is not essential here but it certainly helps.

Webb Simpson (+2,200) opened 80-78 last week and was out of the Cadillac Championship before the weekend but he closed 70-70 so he brings some momentum in. He already has six top tens this season including a victory at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and Copperhead has been very good to him. He finished solo second in 2011 and also has a T17, T10 and T13 since 2010.

Here we go again with Graham DeLaet (+2,700) and while his last three events have not been his best, we'd hate to leave him out when he actually picks up his first PGA Tour win. After missing the cut in his first start here in 2012, he finished T17 last year and that experience should help him out. Let's not forget he posted five straight top eight finishes this season.

Jim Furyk (+2,800) won here in 2010 by a shot over K.J. Choi and nearly won again in 2012, losing in a four-way playoff to Luke Donald. His other two starts in that stretch resulted in a T13 in 2011 and a T7 last year so clearly Copperhead is a favorite of his. He is coming off a disappointing T62 last week at the Cadillac Championship but has been playing very well this season for the most part.

Gary Woodland (+3,000) won this event back in 2011 which was his first PGA Tour victory. He is coming off a T16 last week at Doral which was his fourth top 16 of the season including two top tens. He is one of the longest drivers on tour and he took advantage of that here two years ago. This year, he leads the tour in total driving and if he keeps that up, he can win again.

One player flying way under the radar is George McNeill (+8,000). He grew up near here and went to college in Florida so he is used to the courses and he especially likes this one. He was a T2 here in 2008 and since then he has been up and down but did finish T30 last year, his second best finish in a 13-event stretch. He is in good form now with a T6, T12 and a T19 in his last three starts.

Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Valspar Championship - All for 1 Unit

Webb Simpson (+2,200)

Graham DeLaet (+2,700)

Jim Furyk (+2,800)

Gary Woodland (+3,000)

George McNeill (+8,000)

2014 Record to date after 9 events: +10 Units

Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units

Humana Challenge -5 Units

Farmers Insurance Open -5 Units

Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am +22 Units

Northern Trust Open -5 Units

WGC - Accenture Match Play +23 Units

Honda Classic -5 Units

WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units

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