PGA Tour Picks: Valspar Championship Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
It was a wild final round at the Players Championship on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass with eight different players holding at least a share of the lead at one point. The one left standing was Rory McIlroy, who hit a brilliant, massive drive on the par-5 16th to set up birdie and a two-shot lead. He avoided water on the island hole 17th and would win by a shot over Jim Furyk. A total of 17 balls hit the water on No. 17 on Sunday, the most of any round this year.
McIlroy shot 70-70 on the weekend and closed out Sunday's round with five birdies in his last 10 holes to shoot 16-under 272 to Furyk - who was one of the last players in the field. Of course, an Irishman had to win on St. Patrick's Day! Prior to Sunday, McIlroy had just one victory since the 2016 Tour Championship. He had been winless the last nine times he played in the final group, including the week before at Bay Hill. In six tournaments this year, McIlroy has not finished worse than sixth. We got McIlroy for a Top 10 and head-to-head over Dustin Johnson.
McIlroy became the third player in PGA Tour history to reach 15 wins and four majors before turning 30, joining Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Furyk, last year's Ryder Cup captain, briefly led at 15 under when he birdied No. 18 well ahead of McIlroy. If Furyk hadn't missed a 3-foot par putt on No. 15, it would have gotten him into a playoff. My predicted winner, Tommy Fleetwood, was one of those guys with the lead Sunday but shot 73 and finished fifth. Fleetwood, who led after 18 holes, paid +265 for a Top 10.
This week the Tour heads to the Tampa Bay area for the Valspar Championship. Bit of a watered-down field at the tough but popular Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort because it's now in between the Players and the WGC-Match Play. No Tiger Woods, no Phil Mickelson, no McIlroy among others. Just 11 of the Top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings are set to tee it up.
Copperhead isn't a typical Florida course because is very hilly and tree-lined. The 7,340-yard, par-71 course features an atypical layout with an extra par 3 instead of one fewer par 5. The average score last year was a 71.968, ranking it sixth-toughest on Tour. It's usually in the Top 10 in that regard. The three-hole closing stretch, called the "Snake Pit," is very tough. Those holes have all played over par in each of the last five years.
Expect a close finish as each of the past five tournaments have either been won by a stroke or in a playoff. A non-American has won four of those. Just four of 17 defending Valspar champions have achieved a Top-10 finish a year later and there has never been a repeat winner.
Golf Odds: Valspar Championship Favorites
Surprised that Dustin Johnson is playing here for the first time since 2010, and he's the heavy +550 favorite at Bovada . It's the only tournament on the Florida Swing that Johnson hasn't played over that stretch. He's looking for a third win (one on European Tour) already this year. DJ was T5 last week, his best-ever finish at the Players.
Jason Day and Jon Rahm are each +1000. After withdrawing at Bay Hill, Day was T8 last week and hasn't played here since 2013. Doesn't have a great track record at the course. Rahm, T12 at the Players, makes his tournament debut.
Sergio Garcia (+1600), Patrick Reed (+2000), defending champion Paul Casey (+2000) and Webb Simpson (+2000) round out the favorites. Casey finished at 10-under 274 last year, one ahead of Reed and Tiger - both missed putts on No. 18 to force a playoff.
Golf Odds: Valspar Championship Picks
For a Top 10, go with Garcia (+150), Reed (+200) and Furyk (+300). Furyk won here in 2010 and has three other top 10s, including last year. Garcia has four straight Top 16s here. Take him at +400 as top European. Longer-shot bet on Luke Donald at +1400 as top player from Great Britain and Ireland. He used to contend here every year and won in 2012. He hasn't of late but worth it at that price. Go Canadian Adam Hadwin at +1200 for top "rest of the world." He won here two years ago and was 12th in 2018.
Head-to-head, bet Casey (-115) over Gary Woodland (-115), Sergio (-120) over Simpson (-110), Furyk (-115) over Kevin Kisner (-115), and Hadwin (-110) over Tyrrell Hatton (-120).
Have to go Reed as top American and the winner. He owns a scoring average of 69.6 in his past four visits, which has resulted in two runners-up and a seventh. Reed isn't really contending this year on Tour but is making cuts.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews