Vincenzi’s 2024 Valspar Championship betting preview: Elite ballstrikers to thrive at Copperhead
Vincenzi’s 2024 Valspar Championship betting preview: Elite ballstrikers to thrive at Copperhead

The PGA TOUR will stay in Florida this week for the 2024 Valspar Championship.

The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort is a par 71 measuring 7,340 yards and features Bermudagrass greens overseeded with POA. Infamous for its difficulty, the track will be a tough test for golfers as trouble lurks all over the place. Holes 16, 17 and 18 — also known as the “Snake Pit” — make up one of the toughest three-hole stretches in golf and should lead to a captivating finish on Sunday.

The field is comprised of 156 golfers teeing it up. The field this week is solid and is a major improvement over last year’s field that felt the impact of players skipping due to a handful of “signature events” in a short span of time. 

Past Winners at Valspar Championship

  • 2023: Taylor Moore (-10)
  • 2022: Sam Burns (-17)
  • 2021: Sam Burns (-17)
  • 2019: Paul Casey (-8)
  • 2018: Paul Casey (-10)
  • 2017: Adam Hadwin (-14)
  • 2016: Charl Schwartzel (-7)
  • 2015: Jordan Spieth (-10)

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value). 

Key Stats For Copperhead

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes Gained: Approach grades out as the most important statistic once again this week. Copperhead really can’t be overpowered and is a second-shot golf course.

Total SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds (per round)

  1. Tony Finau (+.90)
  2. Nick Taylor (+.81)
  3. Justin Thomas (+.77)
  4. Greyson Sigg (+.69)
  5. Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+.67)

2. Good Drive %

The long hitters can be a bit limited here due to the tree-lined fairways and penal rough. Playing from the fairways will be important, but laying back too far will cause some difficult approaches with firm greens that may not hold shots from long irons.

Golfers who have a good balance of distance and accuracy have the best chance this week.

Good Drive % Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Brice Garnett (+91.3%) 
  2. Zach Johnson (+91.1%)
  3. Sam Ryder (+90.5%)
  4. Ryan Moore (+90.4%)
  5. Aaron Rai (+89.7%)

3. Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

Adding ball-striking puts even more of a premium on tee-to-green prowess in the statistical model this week. Golfers who rank highly in ball-striking are in total control of the golf ball which is exceedingly important at Copperhead.

SG: Ball Striking Over Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Xander Schauffele (+1.32)
  2. Keith Mitchell (+1.29)
  3. Tony Finau (+1.24)
  4. Cameron Young (+1.17) 
  5. Doug Ghim (+.95)

4. Bogey Avoidance

With the conditions likely to be difficult, avoiding bogeys will be crucial this week. In a challenging event like the Valspar, oftentimes the golfer who is best at avoiding mistakes ends up on top.

Gritty golfers who can grind out difficult pars have a much better chance in an event like this than a low-scoring birdie-fest.

Bogey Avoidance Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Brice Garnett (+9.0)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+9.3)
  3. Austin Cook (+9.7) 
  4. Chesson Hadley (+10.0)
  5. Greyson Sigg (+10.2)

5. Strokes Gained: Total in Difficult Conditions

Conditions will be tough this week at Copperhead. I am looking for golfers who can rise to the occasion if the course plays as difficult as it has in the past.

Strokes Gained: Total in Difficult Conditions Over Past 24 rounds

  1. Xander Schauffele (+1,71) 
  2. Min Woo Lee (+1.39)
  3. Cameron Young (+1.27)
  4. Jordan Spieth (+1.08)
  5. Justin Suh (+.94)

6. Course History

That statistic will tell us which players have played well at Copperhead in the past.

Course History Over Past 24 rounds

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+3.75) 
  2. Sam Burns (+2.49)
  3. Davis Riley (+2.33)
  4. Matt NeSmith (+2.22)
  5. Jordan Spieth (+2.04)

The Valspar Championship Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (27%), Good Drive % (15%), SG: BS (20%), Bogeys Avoided (13%), Course History (13%) Strokes Gained: Total in Difficult Conditions (12%).

  1. Xander Schauffele
  2. Doug Ghim
  3. Victor Perez
  4. Greyson Sigg
  5. Ryan Moore
  6. Tony Finau
  7. Justin Thomas
  8. Sam Ryder
  9. Sam Burns
  10. Lucas Glover

2024 Valspar Championship Picks

Justin Thomas +1400 (DraftKings)

Justin Thomas will be disappointed with his finish at last week’s PLAYERS Championship, as the past champion missed the cut despite being in some decent form heading into the event. Despite the missed cut, JT hit the ball really well. In his two rounds, the two-time major champion led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach per round.

Thomas has been up and down this season. He’s missed the cut in two “signature events” but also has finishes of T12 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, T12 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, T6 at the Pebble Beach AT&T Pro-Am and T3 at the American Express. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks 3rd in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach and 6th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking in the field.

Thomas loves Copperhead. In his last three tries at the course, he’s finished T13, T3 and T10. Thomas would have loved to get a win at a big event early in the season, but avoidable mistakes and a balky putter have cost him dearly. I believe a trip to a course he loves in a field he should be able to capitalize on is the right recipe for JT to right the ship.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout +6000 (FanDuel)

Christiaan Bezuidenhout is playing spectacular golf in the 2024 season. He finished 2nd at the American Express, T20 at Pebble Beach and T24 at the Genesis Invitational before finishing T13 at last week’s PLAYERS Championship.

In his past 24 rounds, the South African ranks 3rd in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach and 26th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. Bezuidenhout managed to work his way around TPC Sawgrass last week with minimal damage. He only made five bogeys in the entire week, which is a great sign heading into a difficult Copperhead this week.

Bezuidenhout is winless in his PGA Tour career, but certainly has the talent to win on Tour. His recent iron play tells me that this week could be a breakthrough for the 35-year-old who has eyes on the President’s Cup.

Doug Ghim +8000 (FanDuel)

Doug Ghim has finished in the top-16 of his past five starts. Most recently, Ghim finished T16 at The PLAYERS Championship in a loaded field.

In his past 24 rounds, Ghim ranks 8th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 5th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. In terms of his fit for Copperhead, the 27-year-old ranks 12th in Bogey Avoidance and 7th in Strokes Gained: Total in Difficult Conditions, making him a great fit for the course.

Ghim has yet to win on Tour, but at one point he was the top ranked Amateur golfer in the world and played in the 2017 Arnold Palmer Cup and 2017 Walker Cup. He then won the Ben Hogan award for the best male college golfer in 2018. He certainly has the talent, and there are signals aplenty that his talent in ready to take him to the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour.

Sepp Straka +8000 (BetRivers)

Sepp Straka is a player who’s shown he has the type of game that can translate to a difficult Florida golf course. The former Presidents Cup participant won the 2022 Honda Classic in tough conditions and should thrive with a similar test at Copperhead.

It’s been a slow 2024 for Straka, but his performance last week at the PLAYERS Championship surely provides some optimism. He gained 5.4 strokes on approach as well as 1.88 strokes off the tee. The tee-to-green game Straka showed on a course with plenty of danger demonstrates that he can stay in control of his golf ball this week.

It’s possible that the strong performance last week was an outlier, but I’m willing to bet on a proven winner in a weaker field at a great number.

Victor Perez +12000 (FanDuel)

Victor Perez is no stranger to success in professional golf. The Frenchman has three DP World Tour wins including a Rolex Series event. He won the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, as well as the 2023 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which are some big events.

Perez earned his PGA Tour card this season and enters the week playing some fantastic golf. He finished in a tie for 16th in Florida at the Cognizant Classic and then tied for third in his most recent start at the Puerto Rico Open.

In his past 24 rounds in the field, Perez ranks 11th in Strokes Gained: Approach, 1oth in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, 6th in Good Drive % and 15th in Bogey Avoidance.

Perez comes in as a perfect fit for Copperhead and offers serious value at triple-digit odds.