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Valspar Championship DFS picks 2024: Don’t give up on Xander Schauffele

March 19, 2024
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 17: Xander Schauffele of the United States follows his shot from the seventh tee during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass on March 17, 2024 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

After an action-packed weekend at The Players, the PGA Tour heads to Tampa for the Valspar Championship. While a collective exhale feels in order, the Valspar Championship remains one of the most underrated events on the schedule, which is largely a product of the golf course.

Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course, designed by Larry Packard in 1971, features tight, tree-lined fairways, a surprising amount of elevation changes for a Florida course and firm Bermudagrass greens. Three of the past five years, it has played as one of the 10 most difficult courses on the schedule, as it is one of the few courses on tour to feature a sub-60-percent driving accuracy percentage and greens in regulation percentage.

The Best and Worst Value Bets for the Valspar Championship

While many of the PGA Tour’s best players will be taking a much-needed breather after The Players Championship, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau, Brian Harman and two-time Valspar Championship winner Sam Burns will all be making the trip to Innisbrook. Much of the focus will be on Schauffele and Harman, as it will be fascinating to see how both respond after such close calls last week. Yet watching how Thomas and Spieth rebound after a disappointing Players will be equally fascinating.

With questions surrounding many of the big names at the top, we are certainly in for a wide-open, thrilling week at one of the PGA Tour’s most challenging golf courses.

$10,000 range

Play: Xander Schauffele, $11,200:

Though some might be dubious about how Xander Schauffele responds after such a crushing defeat at The Players Championship, this price is incredibly fair given the floor he possesses. I still have major questions about the state of Justin Thomas’ and Jordan Spieth’s games, and even course-history king Sam Burns leaves some to be desired from a ball-striking standpoint. Schauffele is the most well-rounded player in this field by a healthy margin, and on a course that accentuates elite tee-to-green play, the seven-time PGA Tour winner still faces the easiest path to the top of the leader board.

Fade: Jordan Spieth, $10,200:

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Icon Sportswire

Jordan Spieth has won at this golf course, but I have major concerns about his game. Spieth is coming off a disappointing MC at The Players where he lost more than 2.5 strokes on approach. The ball-striking has looked shaky all year, and on a course that demands accurate driving and precise long-iron play, I have a difficult time trusting Spieth at this price.

$9,000 range

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Sam Greenwood

Play: Brian Harman, $9,800:

Love it or hate it, Brian Harman is a top-10 player on the PGA Tour right now, and while he came up just short at The Players, the reigning Champion Golfer of the Year continues to prove his meddle in big events. I would certainly argue that Harman is playing much better golf than Spieth and Thomas at the moment, as he is coming off the best approach performance of his career last week. I have no reason to believe that Harman cannot continue his strong play at a golf course he’s performed well at in the past.

Innisbrook Resort: Copperhead
Private
Innisbrook Resort: Copperhead
Palm Harbor, FL
4.2
108 Panelists
The Copperhead course is most famous for hosting the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship every April, but Innisbrook is home to three more championship courses—Island, North and South—with views more like the sand hills of the Carolinas than you might expect in Florida. The Copperhead course is a tough ball-striking challenge with tight, tree-lined fairways and a demanding three-hole finish—known as the Snake Pit—that often makes for dramatic finishes to the annual PGA Tour stop.
Explore our full review

Fade: Min Woo Lee, $9,000:

Until Min Woo Lee shows any consistency with his irons, I will continue to proceed with caution. After two promising approach weeks at the Cognizant Classic and Arnold Palmer Invitational, Lee regressed significantly last week, losing 4.3 strokes on approach. With five par 3s measuring over 195 years, precision on mid to long approach shots is more important at Innisbrook than nearly anywhere else on tour, and Lee continues to rank outside of the top 100 in this field in proximity from 175 yards. Easy pass for me at this price tag.

$8,000 range

Play: Doug Ghim, $8,400:

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Mike Ehrmann

After his fifth top-20 finish in a row, it’s time to put some respect on Doug Ghim’s name. His price tag might be jarring for some, but Ghim has been a top-five player in this field over the past three months, and I see no reason to hop off the hot hand. The former University of Texas standout is accumulating results in a fairly sustainable way, too. Ghim has gained strokes off the tee in every single start this year, and he has gained over a stroke on approach in five consecutive starts. Even more encouraging is that his putter, historically the biggest weakness in his game, has largely improved this year. On a golf course that demands such exacting tee-to-green play, I’m riding the Ghim train until the wheels falls off.

Fade: Adam Hadwin, $8,200:

Adam Hadwin’s 2017 win at this tournament is doing a lot of work here in terms of his price, as I’m not sold that his recent form can justify it. The Canadian is coming off a disappointing MC at The Players where he lost over a stroke in both ball-striking categories, and he now travels to a course that demands incredibly precise tee-to-green play. Hadwin ranks worse than field average in overall approach play, good drive percentage and long iron proximity. While the putter can always heat up, it would take a major uptick in form for Hadwin to repeat his prior success here.

$7,000 range

Play: Lucas Glover, $7,300:

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Cliff Hawkins

Lucas Glover winning back-to-back toward the end of last summer at the Wyndham Championship and FedEx St. Jude Championship was not just a product of a golfer getting hot at the right time. Glover’s success is largely golf course dependent. Both Sedgefield and TPC Southwind are firm, Southeastern Bermuda courses that emphasize accuracy off the tee and overall approach play, Glover’s two most reliable skills. The former U.S. Open Champion now returns to a similarly firm Southeastern Bermuda course that is asking similar questions, and I expect his ball-striking prowess to help him rise to the top.

Fade: Taylor Montgomery, $7,500:

I would not be so quick to hop on the Taylor Montgomery bandwagon after his 11th-place finish at The Players last week, as he was a field average ball-striker who gained over nine strokes in the short-game categories. Montgomery is always live to lead the field in putting, but I have major concerns about his ball-striking ability on a course that requires elite driving accuracy and long iron play. I’d simply rather go to battle with stronger tee-to-green players this week.

Flier: Davis Thompson, $7,000:

Davis Thompson is a player who I always have interest in due to his accuracy off the tee and upside with his middle to long irons. Even more encouraging is Thompson’s ability on par 5s, as he ranks top 10 in this field in par-5 birdie or better percentage. These are all skills that will be heavily accentuated at Innisbrook, and despite this being his first appearance at the course, the former University of Georgia standout should be right at home on Southeastern Bermuda.

$6,000 range

Play: Troy Merritt, $5,800:

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Kevin C. Cox

In the lowest range of pricing, we are always looking for players who can provide the most upside. Due to his elite ability with the flat-stick, Troy Merritt always has my attention. Merritt is actually the only player in this entire field to rank top-eight in overall around-the-green play and Bermuda over-seeded putting. Merritt has recorded multiple top-10 finishes at the Valspar due to his comfort on these greens. Players that possess any elite skill-set are few and far between at the bottom of the board, so I’ll gladly take my chances that Merritt can re-find some putting magic.

Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also a data analyst and writer for Run Pure Sports, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for RickRunGood.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports