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This is the final leg of the four-week Florida Swing
The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort plays host
Sam Burns is seeking a three-peat after wins in 2021 and 2022
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It’s fair to say that after the elite gatherings at Bay Hill and Sawgrass, the Valspar Championship suffers from a scheduling problem.
Most of the big names who contested the Arnold Palmer Invitational and PLAYERS Championship aren’t hanging around for this final leg of the month-long Florida Swing.
But the field here does have a smattering of star quality and includes Sam Burns, a man on a mission as he looks to land this trophy for a third year in succession.
Burns won the first of his two titles in May 2022 when shooting 17-under to come home three clear of Keegan Bradley.
And last year, when the tournament reverted to its current March slot, he ousted compatriot Davis Riley in a playoff after again posting 17-under.
If successful, Burns would become the first player to win the same event in consecutive years since Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic (2009-11).
In the last 28 years, only three players have managed such a feat.
Stuart Appleby did it at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
The other player? That would be Tiger Woods, who went back to back to back on eight occasions - an underrated stat in his long list of achievements.
The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, just north of Tampa, was designed by Larry Packard.
It’s a 7,340-yard par 71 and, somewhat unusually, includes five par-3s as well as the standard four par-5s. It’s undulating and features Bermuda greens.
The final three holes - two tough par-4s and a long par-3 - are collectively known as the ‘Snake Pit’ and can bite hard if tee shots are wayward.
Scottie Scheffler was one of the market leaders last week and prevailed at +1000.
But in the two previous Florida Swing events, the favorites were brushed aside as Chris Kirk won The Honda Classic while a longshot, Kurt Kitayama, landed the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Justin Thomas tops the betting here and that’s due in part to some impressive course form.
The double PGA Championship winner went 10-18-MC-13 on his first four visits and opened with a trio of 66s before finishing third last year.
Jordan Spieth is a past Valspar champion after hoisting the silverware in 2015 while he has a seventh and two other top 20s.
U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick missed the Sawgrass cut last week but he has course form here too via a fifth place 12 months ago.
Sam Burns will have circled this tournament on his calendar as soon as the dates were revealed.
It’s been a special one for him after those triumphs in 2021 and 2022 so the big question is can he win it again?
Missed cuts in the first two Florida events suggested not but tied 35th at Sawgrass last week when the putter started to heat up could be a warning sign.
Burns was also sixth at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last month and 11th in The American Express before that so the 26-year-old has plenty of confidence in the tank.
In a week where many will be winding down from Bay Hill and Sawgrass or perhaps gearing up for next month’s Masters, Burns will be giving this his full focus.
After claiming four PGA Tour wins across the last two seasons, the Louisiana State University grad looks a good bet at +1800 with bet365 to continue his Valspar dominance.
Adam Hadwin has just a single PGA Tour win but that’s one more than England’s Tommy Fleetwood and this is the scene of the Canadian’s finest hour.
Hadwin took the title in 2017, was 12th when defending, and added seventh last year after sitting second on the halfway leaderboard.
Add in a top 15 at Sawgrass last week and 10th in Phoenix last month and Hadwin looks a great bet for another strong performance.
Fleetwood surged into contention at The PLAYERS thanks to a Saturday 65 but a closing 76 spiraled him down to 27th at the finish.
Once more, the chance to land a big event on American soil passed him by and there could be a reaction here.
Fleetwood did post 16th here last year but Hadwin will have the better mindset and underlying confidence and can win their 72-hole match at -130 with DraftKings Sportsbook.
David Lingmerth’s charge back up the world rankings got another shot in the arm last week when the Swede made the top six at Sawgrass.
The Swede was way down in 598th before winning the Korn Ferry’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship last August but now he ranks 127th.
Lingmerth was also 10th at the Honda Classic and played all four rounds at Bay Hill so he’s gone 3-for-3 on the Florida Swing so far.
It’s been a while since he played this event but in four starts between 2013 and 2018, he cashed each time.
Strong approach play has been a feature of his two recent top 10s in Florida and that will serve him well on this track.
Back Lingmerth to pocket a sixth top 20 from his last 12 PGA Tour starts at +360 with DraftKings Sportsbook.
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Tournament: Valspar Championship
Location: Copperhead Course, Innisbrook Resort, Palm Harbor, FL
Date: THURSDAY MAR. 16 - SUNDAY MAR. 19
How to watch: THURSDAY-FRIDAY 2 p.m.-6 p.m. (Golf Channel). SATURDAY-SUNDAY 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC). And all four days on Sky Sports.
Dave Tindall is former golf editor at SkySports.com and Golf365.com and has been writing betting previews for the PGA Tour and European Tour since 1997. He has also written for a range of betting companies, including William Hill and Betfair, as well as being a regular columnist for Rotoworld, The Guardian, Sporting Life and Planet Sport. His other area of speciality is football while he's also covered cricket and tennis.
Email: [email protected]More info on Dave Tindall
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