Valspar Championship Best Bets: Back Nick Taylor and Sungjae Im in Tampa
Valspar Championship Best Bets: Back Nick Taylor and Sungjae Im in Tampa

The PGA Tour ends its Florida Swing with the Valspar Championship at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort. After back-to-back signature events, the field this week is headlined by Xander Schauffele, who is the betting favourite at 8 to 1. Sam Burns, who has won this event two of the past three years, is right behind Schauffele at 11 to 1, with Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas next at 14 to 1 each.

Historically, the Copperhead Course plays tough, with the winning score being 10 under or higher in six of the last 10 tournaments. Like TPC Sawgrass, the venue features a tough three-hole closing stretch. The trio of holes is known as the “Snake Pit,” which consists of two tough par 4s and a long par 3, which typically plays over 200 yards. The tournament has produced a first-time PGA Tour winner in two of the past three years.  Let’s get to the picks.

Sungjae Im to win +2200, top 10 +280

It’s been three years since Im has found the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour, and I think this could be the week he ends the drought. He is coming off solid showings at the Arnold Palmer Invitational (T18) and The Players (T31), so his recent form is encouraging. The 25-year-old has teed it up at the Valspar Championship twice in his career, finishing T29 in 2021 and T4 in 2019. Consistency has been a concern, with just one top 10 this season, but I think this event plays to Im’s strength. Im’s maiden tour victory came at the old Honda Classic at PGA National, another tough Florida track.

Nick Taylor to win +3300, top 20 +200

The Canadian already has a victory and two top 10s this year and continues to put up good results. Taylor sits 11th in the FedEx Cup standings and was in the mix through two rounds at The Players before a Saturday 76 dropped him from contention. The 35-year-old is a great iron player and putter, ranking ninth and 11th in the strokes gained approach and putting categories. He is very familiar with this course, having played this event for the past five years, his best showing being a T10 in 2023. This is a good number for a proven winner who is a stone-cold killer when he is in the hunt on a Sunday.

Maverick McNealy to win +5000, top 30 +170

A shoulder injury took McNealy out for four months last season, but he has bounced back and is off to a great start in 2024. He has recorded three top-15 finishes already this season, including a ninth-place result at The Players Championship last week. He ranks in the top 30 in strokes gained total (10th) tee-to-green (28th), around the green (second) and putting (23rd). He played in this event last year, ending up T36, so he has some course experience. McNealy is trending in the right direction. This could be the spot where he grabs his first PGA Tour win.

Billy Horschel to win +6600, top 40 +125

Horschel, a proud Floridian, has never won an event in his home state. The University of Florida alum is coming off a missed cut at The Players, part of an inconsistent stretch for the seven-time PGA Tour winner who hasn’t played the weekend in three of his last five starts. Despite the recent struggles, I like him this week. He was T9 at the Cognizant Classic a fortnight ago, so there have been flashes of the old Billy Ho. Even if he doesn’t win, a top-40 bet at plus money is an excellent wager.