GOLF

PGA Betting Guide for the Valspar Championship

Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. But finding value is something all bettors must practice in order to give themselves the best chance to make hay when the day finally comes that they ping a champion.

Below, we will cover the best bets for the Valspar Championship based on current form, course fit, and -- of course -- the value of their odds over at FanDuel Sportsbook.

The PGA Tour makes one final stop in Florida this week, this time along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club. The true test this week will be with the irons, as the winding serpent that is the Copperhead Course takes the driver out of play on many holes. The second shot is king here, and we'll focus our card on value and elite approach play.

This field features a very strong top end even after the withdrawal of Tyrrell Hatton due to a positive COVID test. Hatton looked a good bet at his opening price of 27/1, but with his sitting this one out, the odds have shortened on the top of the field and remained largely the same on the back end, signaling that bookmakers believe this week belongs to one of the world's elite players.

With that in mind we'll weight our card toward the top of the market but still find some value deep down the board that may end up better suited for a finishing position bet to mitigate our risk that the big dogs dominate.

For more info on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club along with this week's key stats and comparable courses, check out the course primer.

At the Top

Dustin Johnson (+1100) - While 11/1 is plenty short, any event where Johnson is teeing it up and is not the favorite he must be considered as a value play. Justin Thomas (+900) is a worthy favorite this week, but for the extra couple points, we'll lean toward Johnson here even if he is behind Thomas in terms of iron play.

Johnson is plenty good on approach -- he's 20th on Tour in the strokes gained category and 28th in greens in regulation compared to 2nd and 21st for Thomas. Long term, it is a clear strength even if Johnson is prone to some lapses, but as one of the most prolific winners in Tour history, it's really only a matter of time for him to figure it out.

Last year, he'd lost strokes on approach in half of his first six starts before gaining 6.0 and winning the Travelers Championship. TPC River Highlands is a comp here, and Johnson was sixth in his debut at the Copperhead Course in 2019.

Patrick Reed (+1900) - Although Reed is not the most consistent iron player, his spike weeks usually turn into top finishes thanks to his consistently excellent short game. He's been runner up here twice in the past four years, most recently in 2018 when he led the field in strokes gained: approach with 8.4, according to stats from Fantasy National Golf Club.

Reed is a proven winner even in strong fields, and he is preferred to elite ball-striker Corey Conners (+1900), who has been playing great but has only closed the door on a field once in is career, and two-time defending champion Paul Casey (+2100), who has only ever won here on U.S. soil.

Viktor Hovland (+2100) - Hovland is something of the next generation's Johnson -- about as high a praise as we are likely to give a 23 year old -- a ball-striking phenom who is bound for great success and delivers early returns in his first couple seasons. The young Norwegian has two PGA Tour victories to his name already in what is arguably the strongest crop of elite talent ever assembled on the PGA Tour.

The wins haven't come against top talent, but he's more than held his own this season with three consecutive top fives at the Farmers Insurance Open, the Genesis Invitational, and the WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession. He gained 5.4, 4.1, and 8.7 strokes with approaches in those events respectively, and after a couple disappointing finishes, he arrives on the back of a 21st at Augusta and a hot start to the team event in New Orleans.

Value Spots

Sungjae Im (+3100) - Sungjae saw his odds shorten after the Hatton withdrawal, but he's still attractive enough at 31/1 in our Florida finale. When last season's Florida run was cut short after a win at the Honda Classic and a third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Im was one of the main casualties. He had two top 10s and no other finishes better than 35th after the resumption of play in June through the BMW Championship.

In his rookie season in 2019, he failed to impress on the Texas and Carolina courses that are now due up next on the schedule. Im finished fourth at the Valspar that first season, and he's shown at both PGA National and Bay Hill that his strong debuts are no flukes.

Long Shots

Sam Burns (+7000) - The typically reliable Burns has gone cold with the putter lately, losing in four straight events, all of which came on bermudagrass greens that he's historically excelled on. That type of variance screams out a regression candidate, and while Burns could be slightly damaged from his strong start and epic collapse at Riviera he put up a strong showing at the team event alongside Billy Horschel, finishing in a tie for fourth.

Burns is preferred among those between 50/1 and 100/1 this week, and with finishes of 30th and 12th in the past two installments he looks like a good bet for either a Top 20 Finish (+360) or a Top 30 Finish (+210).

Kyle Stanley (+24000) - If we were trying to construct a path for a non-elite golfer to contend at the Copperhead Course, we'd look for a golfer who consistently finds the fairway and hits the green. According to Fantasy National, Stanley ranks 20th in greens in regulation gained and 33rd in both fairways gained and strokes gained: approach over the past 50 rounds on Tour.

He's in the midst of a really poor stretch with the putter, having gained just once in his last nine events. He's been particularly bad of late, with figures of -3.8, -1.0, -9.0, and -5.6 putting figures over his last four events. He should be well suited to this course and catches the eye at this extremely long outright price and a tasty Top 20 Finish (+750).