Valspar Championship Preview
The players’ preparation for the Valspar Championship would have been impacted drastically as The Players Championship concluded on Monday evening.
As a result of that late finish, Paul Casey and Doug Ghim have pulled out of the tournament and have instead opted for deserved rest.
Sam Buns, who shared the penultimate grouping with Casey, will return to Tampa as the defending champion – and the arena of his first PGA Tour victory.
Bryson DeChambeau remains side-lined with an injury sustained earlier in the season, whilst Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland and Brooks Koepka remain committed to the event.
The Previous Edition
Burns battled his way to his maiden PGA Tour title, although Keegan Bradley’s costly three-over back nine during the final round opened the door compellingly for his competitor.
Bradley launched his tournament with a 64 – two better than anyone else – as Max Homa, Ryan Moore and Abraham Ancer were all part of the chasing pack.
Another riveting display by Bradley resulted in 66, but Burns had supported his inspiring 67 with another score in the sixties – this time 63.
Hovland remained in close pursuit and he finished his tournament with scores of 69-69-68-65, although he finished four strokes behind eventual winner, Burns.
With both Burns and Bradley starting their final round at 14-under, a nervy and exciting finale was in store.
The former strung six birdies together at the cost of three bogeys, whilst Bradley’s double-bogey on the par-3 13th ultimately decided which way the title would be heading.
The Valspar Championship is contested at Innisbrook Resort, on the Copperhead Course.
Measuring 7,340 yards, the big-hitters may gain a slight advantage around this scoreable layout, although Larry Packard’s design of tree-lined fairways may counteract that theory.
Burns finished 5th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and 3rd in Strokes Gained: Putting – which explains that an all-round performance will be needed for the eventual winner.
Like many PGA Tour courses, there are a difficult stretch of holes to conclude the route, which should have fans fixated to the conclusion come Sunday.
Morikawa headlines the field as the highest ranked player in the world, and he’ll also be making his debut at the Copperhead Course.
He’ll be looking to quickly forget his week at Sawgrass, as he missed the cut and made several uncharacteristic decisions.
Xander Schauffele will also be present and looking for his first PGA Tour title since the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Although he did secure the gold medal during the Tokyo Olympics last summer, his lack of victories is simply unfathomable considering the quality he possesses.
Justin Thomas and Johnson are the other two members of the world’s top 10 who have committed to the Tampa event, both eager to further enhance their already glittering careers.
Johnson produced the round of the week at The Players Championship, although his previous three outings ensured he would not be in contention.
Jason Day will be making successive starts and he has featured heavily this season so far, which could improve his chances of a second major championship.
Ryan Brehm, who heroically secured his PGA Tour card from his final medical exemption during the Puerto Rico Open, will be making his third consecutive start as he looks to take full advantage of his newly obtained golfing passport.
Someone you should keep an eye on is Alex Fitzpatrick – the brother of Matt – after he earned a PGA Tour start through his collegiate achievements for the second year running.
Other notable golfers include Tommy Fleetwood, Martin Kaymer and Ancer.
Whilst the Valspar cannot quite match the field of The Players, the excitement of seeing some of the world’s best should still be prevalent.
The Copperhead is typically a good scoring course, so can we see Padraig Harrington’s course record score of 61 beaten or matched?