2021 Valspar Championship Picks & Best Bets: McCarthy, Lewis Worthy of Longshot Plays at Copperhead
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Lewis
After a year away because of the pandemic, the PGA TOUR returns to one of the more difficult courses on the circuit this week: The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook.
Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course checks in at around 7,340 yards for a par 71. It is one of the rare TOUR stops that features five par 3s, so there’s an added emphasis on par-3 scoring, as well as how players handle their approaches from over 200 yards.
Copperhead is also known for it’s tough three-hole closing stretch, known as The Snake Pit, which plays over par. Don’t be surprised if one of the leaders blows a lead coming down the stretch.
A difficult combination of tree-lined fairways, tricky rough and multiple doglegs means that bombers can’t come and overpower this course. Instead, Copperhead is one of a few places left that requires precision over power.
Justin Thomas opened as the favorite at +900, but Dustin Johnson is right there with him at +1100. Thomas has been playing the better golf between them, but neither does much for me on this course at these prices.
There’s a decent gap between the top two guys and Patrick Reed, who is next up at +1800. Reed has a couple of second-place finishes here and was eighth his last time out at the Masters, so if you’re someone who likes to play guys at the top he’d be my pick.
The most surprising price on the board was Corey Conners, who opened as short as +1400 depending on the sportsbook. Seeing Conners that short was disappointing since a lot of people would have planned on targeting him due to his recent form, but that number will likely scare most potential bettors away.
Two-time defending champ Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland are next at +2200, while Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton and Scottie Scheffler close out this range at +2800. None of these players really got me attention, though if I had to pick I would probably land on Louis. That said, I’m fine starting off my ticket in the next price range.
I’ll open here with Sungjae Im at +3300. Im seems to play well in Florida and is a better putter on Bermuda. The irons had been a problem recently, but he gained 3.5 strokes on approach at Harbour Town, so things could be starting to turn around in that department. He was also fourth here back in 2019, which was the last time this event was held.
I’ll also go back to Charley Hoffman one more time at +5000. Hoffman has finished inside the top-20 in five of his last six starts, including last week when he partnered with a completely out of form Nick Watney at Zurich.
Hoffman’s previous results here could give you pause, but history hasn’t been a big indicator of future success here. Guys like Casey (at least the first time he won), Adam Hadwin and Charl Schwartzel have all won here in the past five years without previous recording a top-20 finish at the event.
I’ll take two chances down here starting with Denny McCarthy at +10000. McCarthy was ninth here in his debut back in 2019, so the course is a decent fit for his game. He’s also in good form, having made five straight cuts, including a third-place finish at the Honda.
He’s always going to be one of those guys who relies on a hot putting week, but those tend to happen often for him on Bermuda.
I’ll close out here with Tom Lewis at +21000. The Englishman is a proven winner on both the European and Korn Ferry Tour, so this would be a big next step, but Lewis has been stringing cuts together as well, making five in a row, and he’s coming off an eighth-place finish last week at Zurich with Thomas Pieters.
Lewis’ approach game has been dialed in for a couple of months now and he finally gained strokes with the putter for the first time in six months at the Heritage, so maybe he can put it all together this week at Copperhead.
The Valspar Card
- Sungjae Im +3300 (1 unit)
- Charley Hoffman +5000 (.66 units)
- Denny McCarthy +10000 (.33 units)
- Tom Lewis +21000 (.16 units)
Total Stake: 2.15 units