PGA Tour Picks: Valspar Championship Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 3/12/2014
American Patrick Reed, just 23, says he's one of the five-best players in the world right now. Can you disagree?
Reed, who played collegiately at Augusta State University, beat a very strong field last week at new-look Doral, taking the WGC-Cadillac Championship by a shot over Bubba Watson and Jamie Donaldson. He played textbook conservative golf on Sunday with an even-par 72 and two-putted for bogey on the 72nd hole to finish at 4-under 284 (the overhauled Doral clearly was much tougher, although weather played a factor last week).
Kudos to Reed, too, because he wasn't sounding all chesty afterward when he said he's one of the top-five players in the world. He's right. Reed led Augusta State to two NCAA Championships and has now won three PGA Tour events in the past 14 months -- also the Humana Challenge in January and Wyndham Championship last August -- to rocket to No. 20 in the world. He was also the youngest-ever winner of a WGC event. Not bad for a guy who missed 10 cuts in his first 14 starts of 2013. He started that season having just earned his PGA Tour card on the number as Reed was barely inside the Top 600 in the world.
Reed is thought to be the first player ever to win three tournaments before playing in his first major. His wife used to be his caddie; now it's his brother in law. It's amazing how in golf a light could just go on. Maybe we are looking at a future Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson type rivalry in Reed and 20-year-old Jordan Spieth. Then again, consider the David Duval possibilities of a player flashing brightly and then crashing just as quickly.
Alas, Woods as usual was the big story line at Doral as he entered Sunday just three shots back after a brilliant third round but claimed to have tweaked his back and shot a birdie-free 78 on Sunday, his worst round ever at Doral. Has anyone blamed bad rounds the past few years on injury more than Tiger? This guy definitely isn't a hockey player.
I'd like to say I picked Reed. I went with Adam Scott at 12/1 as I believed the idea of taking over the world No. 1 ranking from Tiger would really motivate Scott. He never shot better than 72 and finished T25. I also liked him as the top Aussie finisher, but he finished a shot behind a countryman I had never heard of, Scott Hend. I missed on Dustin Johnson as the top American, obviously claimed by Reed, as he finished T4. On Top-10 finishes, I hit on Johnson at +125. That was about it. Worst tournament of the year.
The field is much more watered down this week as it moves to the beautiful Innisbrook Resort in the Tampa Bay area for the Valspar Championship. This event seems to be in jeopardy every year in terms of a primary sponsor and thus has had numerous names; Valspar, if you care, is a global provider of paint and industrial coatings and signed a four-year deal, so it's safe for a while.
With many top players expected to tee it up next week at Bay Hill, a majority are taking this week off after the south Florida swing. Ten of the Top 30 in the world are set to play. One interesting name to watch is Peter Uihlein (80/1 to win). He is a Florida native who last year became the first American to win the European Tour Rookie of the Year. He's here on a sponsor exemption.
Kevin Streelman won the tournament last year, opening with a 73 on the par 71 but then finishing 69-65-67 to beat out Boo Weekley by two shots for his first PGA Tour win. Streelman was the second player in three years to get his first win at the event; Gary Woodland did so in 2011.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Valspar Championship Favorites
Jason Dufner and Spieth are the 16/1 co-favorites at Bovada . Playing here last year during his Rookie of the Year season, Spieth finished T7. He struggled to a T34 last week, but that was largely due to a second-round 79, and Spieth has largely played well this season. Dufner was T21 here last year and T9 last week.
Then there's a three-way at 18/1 : Harris English, Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar. English was T7 here last year and played well the past two weeks on the other side of the state. Rose has never finished outside the Top 30 in seven appearances in this event - his best a fifth-place in 2011 -- but he's struggling so far this year in limited action. Kuchar has been T15 or better in his past three starts here.
PGA Tour Picks: Valspar Championship Predictions
On the Top-10 props this week I like Spieth (+185), Kuchar (+200), former winner Jim Furyk (+275) and Luke Donald (+200). As the top Korean, take 2002 & 2006 winner K.J. Choi at +125, and I will roll the dice on struggling Retief Goosen at 13/2 to be the top South African. He also has won here twice. Take Marc Leishman at 3/1 as the top Aussie. Head-to-head, I like English (-200) over Bill Haas (+155), Furyk (-115) over Woodland (-115), Brandt Snedker (-115) over Streelman (-155), and Ernie Els (-115) over Cameron Tringale (-115).
To win, I'm putting all my eggs in Luke Donald at 20/1. The former world No. 1 has dropped to No. 25, and he needs to start playing well to be considered for the European Ryder Cup team. He hasn't missed any cuts since last year's PGA Championship but has just a single Top-10 finish this year. Donald won here in 2012, was fourth last year and sixth in 2010. In his last 12 starts in Florida overall, Donald has two wins and six other Top 10s.
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