Golfers to watch at the Valspar Championship

Last week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans ended up looking like a practice round for the international team in the Presidents Cup as the Australian team of Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman, at 12/1, triumphed in a playoff over the South African duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.

While the Florida swing has technically concluded, the Valspar Championship in the Tampa Bay area got pushed back, and will take place this week at Innisbrook. The top end of the field gets a major boost as World No. 1 Dustin Johnson (10/1) and World No. 2 Justin Thomas (8/1), who won the Players Championship the last time he teed it up in Florida seven weeks ago. Patrick Reed (18/1), a Valspar runner-up in 2015 and 2018, is also ranked in the OWGR top 10. Viktor Hovland and Corey Conners, who has four top-10 finishes in his last six events, are priced at 20/1.

Sungjae Im 33/1

Im was fourth here on debut in 2019. He has always taken a liking to Florida courses and even more so a liking for Bermudagrass. The South Korean won the Honda Classic at PGA National last year and then finished third the following week at Bay Hill.

Jason Kokrak 37/1

Kokrak was the runner-up here two years ago and has two other top-10 finishes in his last five appearances here.

He was in excellent form on the Florida swing in March finishing ninth at WGC Concession, eighth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and ninth at the Players Championship. Kokrak also is tops in this field for Bogey Avoidance, which could prove to be crucial here especially in “The Snake Pit”.

Jason Kokrak
Jason Kokrak
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Joaquin Niemann 38/1

Niemann ranks top 10 in this week’s field for Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green, SG: Ball Striking, and SG: Off-The-Tee. While he has cooled a bit from his January form, this looks like a spot where he could return to the first page of the leaderboard.

Justin Rose 45/1

Rose was both the 18- and 36-hole leader at the Masters before finishing seventh. Last week he partnered with longtime friend Henrik Stenson and finished 11th in New Orleans. While he has mostly sporadic appearances in this event, he does have three top-10 finishes over the last 10 years here.

Chris Kirk 55/1

Kirk has never really showed all that well here at the Valspar, but it is difficult to argue his recent form. He is second in SG: Total, fourth for SG: Around The Green, and sixth for SG: Tee-To-Green over the course of the last 24 rounds.

Doug Ghim 100/1

Ghim rates in the top 12 of this week’s field for SG: Approach, SG: Ball Striking, and SG: Tee-To-Green. He just missed out on the top 10 last week with an 11th in New Orleans playing with fellow young upstart Justin Suh.

Danny Willett 150/1

Willett finished T-8 last week with fellow Englishman Tyrrell Hatton in New Orleans. While he did not drive the ball well at the RBC Heritage a couple weeks ago, he did gain six strokes on the greens and may be able to continue to ride that hot putter here.