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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS Course History - 2023 Valspar Championship

Hello folks, and welcome back to Horse For The Course! The PGA Tour's flagship event offered some twists and turns along the way, but the ultimate result at this year's PLAYERS Championship was a fairly predictable one, as Scottie Scheffler turned the "Fifth Major" into a blowout down the stretch and regained the title of the world's No. 1 player in the process.

After a Florida Swing that's been all golf fans could have asked for, we're set to close out the Tour's month-long stay in the Sunshine State with the Valspar Championship at the often-treacherous Copperhead Course.

Horse For The Course is an article that highlights players in this week's field with elite course history and is part of our free PGA DFS content here at RotoBaller. For my favorite DFS plays of the week check out my Core Four article here at RotoBaller every Wednesday. It's part of our excellent PGA Premium package that includes an all-new PGA Research Station, Lineup Builder & Optimizer, and some of the best articles in the PGA DFS industry! You can sign up now using Promo Code: NICE for an extra discount at checkout!

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2023 Valspar Championship

After a memorable Florida Swing that's been marked by elite fields and elevated designations, we're set to close out our extended stay in Florida with this week's Valspar Championship. Similar to the Honda Classic, the Valspar has been done few favors by its tough spot on the schedule, as it's sandwiched between multiple "designated" events.

Despite the Valspar's difficult placement on the calendar - and a notoriously-tough Copperhead host course - the event has managed to thrive in recent years. While the assembled field this week is nothing like the turnout we've seen recently at the API or THE PLAYERS, we still have a very respectable field set to tee it up, with five of the world's top-20 ranked golfers in attendance this week.

Sam Burns heads to Innisbrook Resort in search of a rare three-peat. Burns has ticked off back-to-back wins at the Valspar on the strength of his elite putting ability on Bermuda greens, as well as his strong output from tee to green. It's a common thread among those that have found success at Copperhead, and course history tends to be sticky at the Valspar, as Paul Casey - now on the LIV Tour - has also logged multiple Valspar wins in recent years.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week. And be sure to read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS articles to help you win big!


The Course: Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Course)

Par 71 - 7,340 Yards, Greens: Bermuda (Poa Overseed), Designed By: Larry Packard

Located in Palm Harbor, Florida, the Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort is the type of course that could hold a PGA Championship next week and no one would raise an eyebrow. It is a quality golf course and one that routinely ranks as one of the most difficult on the PGA Tour schedule. Its many undulations are unique for a Florida course. Players in this field will face tight, tree-lined fairways, tough doglegs, and greens that are hard to hit.

They must also tackle 'The Snake Pit'...the Copperhead's daunting closing three-hole stretch. This is a less-than-driver course for the bombers, but there are four Par-5s for them to gun at. Interestingly, there are FIVE Par-3s on this layout, which almost forces us to look at something we rarely give much weight to in this article; Par-3 Scoring. As usual, ball striking is a trait we want to target, and the facet of the game I'm giving the most weight to this week. A players' short game and ability to scramble will also be tested this week.

For good measure, I'll also bump long-iron approach play and Par-5 scoring (four Par-5s on this Par 71 layout), while giving serious consideration to those golfers that thrive on Bermuda-grass putting surfaces.


Recent Valspar Winners & Scoring Info

  • 2022: Sam Burns (-17)
  • 2021: Sam Burns (-17)
  • 2020: Cancelled - COVID
  • 2019: Paul Casey (-8)
  • 2018: Paul Casey (-10)
  • Average Winning Score Last Five Years: - 13


The Horse

Justin Thomas

  • Event Scoring Average: 69.67 (Five career starts)
  • Notable Course History: T3 (2022), T13 ('21), T10 ('15)
  • DraftKings Price: $10,900 FanDuel Price: $12,000

Justin Thomas was a golfer that I had tons of exposure to last week at THE PLAYERS, and as his T60 finish indicates, it was a rough week for JT and his backers at TPC Sawgrass. However, I won't let last week's disappointment distract me from this week's potential with Thomas, a player that's recorded four top-18 results across his five career Valspar Championship appearances.

It's easy to look at his results from last week and assume that Thomas simply isn't playing well. While he certainly didn't play his best golf last week, diving into the numbers gives us a bit of perspective - and optimism - about JT's chances of rebounding this week at Innisbrook.

Despite the underwhelming T60 last week, the two-time major winner was rock-solid from a ball-striking standpoint. Thomas gained 5.5 strokes T2G and 3.1 strokes on Approach, marks that put him in the top-25 of the PLAYERS field in both statistical categories. We can trace his poor finish directly to an ice-cold putter. The Kentucky native was miserable on the greens at Sawgrass, losing a whopping 4.9 strokes for the week.

While there's no guarantee that his lingering putting woes will end this week at Innisbrook (he's now lost strokes on the greens in three of his last four starts), PGA DFS regulars know that putting performance can - and often does - change wildly from week to week.


The Ponies

Sam Burns

  • Event Scoring Average: 68.63 (Four career starts)
  • Notable Course History: Win ('22), Win ('21), T30 ('19), T12 ('18)
  • DraftKings Price: $10,200 FanDuel Price: $11,700

The two-time Valspar winner has been a consistent force at Innisbrook, but the same can't be said of Sam Burns in his other stops on the 2023 PGA Tour schedule. Burns has been highly erratic this year and a statistical review of his '23 output reads like a game of red light-green light.

After going T11-T6 at the AmEx and WMPO, the cajun proceeded to log missed cuts in his next two starts at the Genesis and API. His mark of -9.1 strokes on Approach at Bay Hill is one of the worst measurements I've seen in recent memory. Yet...Burns battled back to record a T35 in last week's PLAYERS Championship, which I suppose we can view as a momentum builder as he travels to Copperhead looking for a three-peat this week.

His "Bermuda Burns" moniker is well known by now, but it is also well deserved. The Louisiana native ranks first in this week's field in SG: Putting on Bermuda over his last 50 rounds. It's certainly translated to success for him in the Valspar, as he's gained a combined 14.3 strokes putting across his last two appearances in this event.

His volatile play to this point is admittedly concerning, but, as they say, "ball don't lie", and Burns is slowly developing a reputation as a course horse that plays well on a handful of his favorite tracks year in and year out, with the Copperhead Course undoubtedly at the top of Burns' happy places list.

Denny McCarthy

  • Event Scoring Average: 70.08 (Three career starts)
  • Notable Course History: T48 ('22), T39 ('21), T9 ('19)
  • DraftKings Price: $9,300  FanDuel Price: $10,800

If we're looking for great Bermuda putters this week (we are), then Denny McCarthy immediately hops on our Valspar radar. Few can roll the rock better than Denny Mac, who grades out sixth in this field in SG: Putting (Bermuda) over the last 100 rounds and has finished three of the last four seasons ranked inside the top five on the PGA Tour in Total Putting.

His ability with the flat stick has translated to success at the Copperhead Course, as McCarthy has made the cut in all three of his career Valspar starts, with a T9 in 2019 standing as the highlight.

Denny comes into this year's edition on the heels of his best ball-striking performance of 2023 in last week's PLAYERS Championship. He gained 5.2 strokes T2G at TPC Sawgrass en route to a T13. With his elite short game and comfort level at Innisbrook, McCarthy could make some serious noise this week if he can carry the positive ball-striking momentum over from last week.


Did you know RotoBaller has a Premium DFS PGA subscription? Like what you read today? You can show your support for Joe by using the discount code NICE when purchasing a PGA Premium Pass. You get 10% off and full access to all of our Premium PGA articles, DFS tools, and Lineup Optimizer! You also get access to weekly betting picks from Spencer Aguiar, one of the top betting minds in the industry.


Brandon Wu

  • Event Scoring Average: 69.50 (One career start)
  • Notable Course History: T33 ('22)
  • DraftKings Price: $8,500 FanDuel Price: $10,000

Normally, one career start at a venue isn't enough to make it into this article. However, I'm going to make an exception with Brandon Wu here, as quality course history is very difficult to come by in the mid-tier DFS range on this slate.

A T33 in his lone Valspar start last year isn't exactly earth-shattering, but it's enough to let us know that Wu is capable of handling this difficult Copperhead layout. He comes into this year's edition as a full-fledged PGA Tour member and playing some impressive golf. Wu has now logged top-20 finishes in each of his last two starts (the Honda and the PLAYERS), as well as a runner-up finish at Pebble Beach last month.

After having the start of his pro career derailed a bit by the 2020 COVID season, the talented Stanford alum is now finally where he belongs and I believe we'll continue to see his star rise throughout 2023. This is one of the few courses on the schedule that he's seeing for the second time and a terrific spot for him to rack up another great result.

David Lingmerth

  • Event Scoring Average: 71.69 (Four career starts)
  • Notable Course History: T64 ('18), T27 ('17)
  • DraftKings Price: $7,300 FanDuel Price: $8,400

After back-to-back weeks of "elevated" events, this week's Valspar salary scale is reminiscent of the Honda Classic from a few weeks bag. Translation: value is tough to find.

That's especially the case when we start trying to pinpoint salary savers with good course history. Though there aren't lots of options, David Lingmerth does pass the test, as he's made the cut in all four of his career Valspar starts and also comes into the week in solid form.

The diminutive Lingmerth scored an impressive T6 last week at THE PLAYERS Championship, a finish that was powered by his elite iron play. He gained 6.5 strokes on Approach at TPC Sawgrass. It was the second time in his last three starts that he gained more than six strokes with the irons, as he went +6.3 on Approach en route to a T10 at the Honda Classic. Lingmerth now brings that hot ball-striking to a Copperhead layout where he's never missed a cut and that rewards great iron play.


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