PGA Tour Picks: Valspar Championship Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
The Masters can't get here soon enough. Tiger Woods is starting to look like he might actually win again at some point in 2018, and Phil Mickelson is playing his best golf in five years.
Lefty won the WGC-Mexico Championship in Mexico City on Sunday, his first victory anywhere since the 2013 British Open - that was the longest title drought of his Hall of Fame career. The 47-year-old was the oldest man in the field but beat young Justin Thomas, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, in a playoff to become the oldest winner of a WGC event. It was Mickelson's 43rd career win on Tour.
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Mickelson began Sunday day two strokes off the lead and was one of six players to hold at least a share of it as he birdied Nos. 15 and 16 to force overtime with Thomas, who only played his final 36 holes in 16 under, tying the all-time weekend record on the PGA Tour. He forced a playoff by holing out from 121 yards for eagle at the 72nd hole. However, Thomas missed the green and failed to make par on the first playoff hole and Mickelson two-putted for par and the victory. Thomas was trying to become the first player since David Duval in 1997 to win consecutive PGA Tour events in playoffs. Thomas did move up to No. 2 in the world.
Alas, I didn't have Mickelson on my radar even though he had been playing well the past few events. I went with England's Tommy Fleetwood for his first PGA Tour win, but he finished T14. Fleetwood shot 67-66 on the weekend after opening with 72-71. Frankly, I didn't get much right last week, so let's move on.
It's the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead Course - another one I have played - in the Tampa Bay area this week. Usually, the fields aren't great here because it's at a tough spot on the schedule: ahead of Arnold Palmer's Invitational at Bay Hill about 90 miles away in Orlando. All the big names play there to honor Arnie, so many would skip this stop. Lefty is off this week as is No. 1 Dustin Johnson, but five of the world's Top 13 are playing - and Tiger and Rory McIlroy are entered for the first time. Woods also is set to play next week at a tournament he has dominated, so he must really be feeling good with his back. It's probably the best field the Valspar has ever had; it debuted in 2000 as the Tampa Bay Classic.
Copperhead isn't like many Florida courses in that it's very hilly with plenty of trees. It's tough but fair - its signature holes are the "Snake Pit," Nos. 16-18. That ranked fourth-toughest on Tour last year among three-hole closing stretches. It's a par 71 measuring 7,340 yards and a shotmakers' course to be sure.
The defending champion is Canadian Adam Hadwin, who had a two-shot lead on 16 Sunday but double-bogeyed. However, he composed himself and edged Patrick Cantlay by a shot after Cantlay's 15-foot par on the 72 nd hole wasn't hit nearly hard enough. Hadwin finished at 14-under 270. It was the fourth straight year someone from a different country won (others: South Africa, USA and Australia). No player has ever repeated at the tournament - K.J. Choi and Retief Goosen have both won it twice overall, though.
Golf Odds: Valspar Championship Favorites
At Bovada , Spieth is the +850 favorite. He won the event in 2015 via playoff over Sean O'Hair and Patrick Reed. He was 16th the next year and skipped in 2017. Spieth was 14th last week in Mexico. That was his third straight Top 20.
McIlroy is +1400 and Sergio Garcia +1600. Rory played great golf to start 2018 over in the Middle East but it hasn't translated yet to the States. He took last week off. Sergio plays here for the first time since 2013 when he was T7. He was also T7 in Mexico.
Justin Rose is +1800 with Henrik Stenson at +2000 (Tiger is +2500 and Hadwin +2800). Rose had a fifth here in 2011 and eighth in 2014 but hasn't been back since a MC in 2015. He was 37th last week. Stenson makes his 2018 USA debut. Three trips here and never worse than 11 th.
Golf Odds: Valspar Championship Picks
For a Top 10, I like Spieth (-160), Stenson (+150) and Tony Finau (+210). There are no head-to-head options as of this writing. That Tiger makes the cut is -200 with "no" at +150. I might go no simply as he doesn't know the course and surely is more focused on Bay Hill. For top Englishman, go Paul Casey at +250. Like Sergio (+425) over Casey (+650) for top European.
I will split my win bet on Stenson and Finau (+2800). The latter missed the cut here his first two trips but was T5 last year and closed with a 64. Finau also has two runner-up finishes already this season and played OK last week in Mexico (27th).
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