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Valspar Championship picks 2022: Why our caddie is betting on Dustin Johnson

March 15, 2022
PACIFIC PALISADES, CA - FEBRUARY 17: Dustin Johnson walks off the 11th tee box during the first round of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club on February 17, 2022 in Pacific Palisades, California. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

No excuses, but we all kind of got screwed last week with the weather at the Players Championship. How are you supposed to attempt to forecast the outcome of a golf tournament when the actual weather forecast is as bad as it’s been in the history of the tournament?

That said, plenty of folks in the gambling community hit on Cameron Smith anyway, a heady play given Smith has migrated from Australia to Jacksonville and become a “local.” It helps, too, that he’s now being dubbed the new best putter on the planet, which he proved on Monday at TPC Sawgrass.

So now we turn our attention to the final leg of the Florida Swing, which hasn’t been as kind as the West Coast swing to golf bettors or the actual golfers themselves. Our goal is to change that and end on a high note before the tour rolls into Austin next week for one of the most unique week’s on the golf-betting calendar, the WGC-Match Play. But first, let’s hit a winner at Valspar at Innisbrook, where the Snake Pit will surely be a place where bets go to die, or be revived.

Our panel consists of an anonymous caddie reporting live from Innisbrook; Pat Mayo of Mayo Media Network/DraftKings; Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com; Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports and your two authors. We’d like to think you’re reading one of the best collections of golf handicappers in the industry. If we hit a winner this week, we know you’ll agree.

Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2022 Valspar Championship.

Valspar Championship picks 2022: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Dustin Johnson (18-1, DraftKings) — I wouldn’t want to pick against DJ coming in off shooting a course record at an extremely difficult TPC Sawgrass. That final-round 63 at The Players could really kick start his season. He’s long overdue to get back in the winner’s circle.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Jason Kokrak (25-1, DraftKings) — While Kokrak’s driver has begun to bleed strokes, his around-the-green game has recently become far less of a liability. That’s a worthy enhancement at Copperhead since many holes require clubbing down off the tee.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Louis Oosthuizen (24-1, FanDuel) — Something has to give eventually. Oosthuizen has been undervalued for weeks now. He is in the 85th percentile or better in all four adjusted strokes gained categories over the past year, and he’s accurate and plays well out of bunkers. It’s a good fit for the breakthrough.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Collin Morikawa (12-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — When it comes to the missed cut at The Players, forgive quickly. The wrong end of the draw bounced Morikawa (and plenty of others) early, but now he gets to focus on his Valspar Championship debut. Morikawa dismantles par 5s, in fact—he’s the best par-5 scorer in this field, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. Combine that with solid long-iron play and a putter that can catch fire and you’ve got the recipe for a win.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Jason Kokrak (25-1, DraftKings Sportsbook) — Kokrak is still not getting as much respect as he probably deserves. He’s got three PGA Tour wins in the past season and a half, which is more than everyone in this field not named Collin Morikawa. Kokrak has gained the fifth-most strokes in this field at this event over the past five seasons with a T-13 in 2021, a T-2 in 2019 and a T-8 in 2018. Him losing strokes off the tee in his past few outings doesn’t scare me: In all three of his victories, he lost strokes off the tee in his previous start.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (66-1, Bet365) — No one is catching my eye at the top of the board and I’m not desperate for an outright hit like the guy above me. So we’ll roll the dice on Bez, who sneakily went 25th, 20th at the Honda and Bay Hill, then didn’t have to go through the weather slog that was the Players Championship since he didn’t qualify. He’ll roll into Innisbrook extremely fresh and, perhaps, dare I say, “under the radar.” Plus, all the best touts are saying short game this, don’t need driver that this week. Sounds like it’s right up Bez’s alley.

Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Xander Schauffele (22-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Schauffele’s solid off-the-tee and putting game means he ranks seventh in the FanShareSports Course Suitability Ranking this week. He is also the second-best player in the field over the last two years for SG/total and ranks 12th for SG/total over the last two months, meaning both his long and short-term game are solid coming into this week.

Past results: Golf Digest's betting panel had another strong season in 2020-’21, correctly predicting 14 winners in the last 28 events of the year. We’re already off to a hot start in the new season, too, with Christopher Powers nailing Scottie Scheffler’s win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at 29-1 and then backing it up with Joaquin Niemann at 60-1 to win at Riviera. A few weeks earlier, Pat Mayo correctly predicted Luke List’s victory at Torrey Pines at 70-1. Rick Gehman also hit Sam Burns (16-1) at the Sanderson Farms Championship in the fall, as well as Viktor Hovland (19-1) at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. Brandon Gdula also hit on Hovland at Mayakoba, and Stephen Hennessey cashed on Hideki Matsuyama (12-1) at the Zozo Championship.

Valspar Championship picks 2022: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win

Caddie: Gary Woodland (50-1, DraftKings) — Honda and Bay Hill were two extremely difficult setups, which is what he’ll face this week—at a course he’s won before.

Mayo: Gary Woodland (50-1, DraftKings) — It’s been a lot of golf for Gary lately, and that may have caught up with him after a lengthy delay at Sawgrass. But when I was circling the return to glory for Woodland in the preseason, this was the event. He’s posted two top-five finishes already in Florida this year. A repeat win at Copperhead more than a decade after the fact seems plausible.

Gdula: Alex Noren (70-1, FanDuel) — Noren’s golfing really well right now and is doing it with iron play – which is what you want to see. Paired with an elite short game, he sets up well at Copperhead, where he debuted for a T-21 last year.

Gehman: Adam Hadwin (50-1, DraftKings) — Hadwin has found something with his irons. He’s gaining more than a half stroke per round on approach over his six starts this season, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. Compare that to the 0.17 strokes he lost per round in 2021, and you can easily see thee improvement. He won this event in 2017 and finished T-12 in 2018, so there are plenty of good vibes for Hadwin around the Copperhead Course.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Francesco Molinari (130-1, DraftKings) — He faded over the past 27 holes at TPC Sawgrass, but Molinari was playing great to start his third round at The Players—and it’s not the first time recently he’s shown flashes. He finished sixth at the American Express, as well—those are enough flashes for me to take a stab on someone of his caliber at these odds.

Powers, Golf Digest: Francesco Molinari (130-1, DraftKings) — I’ll say something nice about Stephen - this is a good pull and a great number on the former Open winner. His 42nd place finish at the Players might not have shown it, but he definitely found something last week, gaining 4.3 strokes tee-to-green.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Alex Noren (70-1, FanDuel) — Noren is showing real signs of getting back to his best. And this is a great place for Noren to test just how far he has come. He ranks 17th in the FanShareSports Course Suitability Ranking due to his super sharp short game on and around fast Bermuda greens and also ranks ninth in the field this week for SG/total over the last two months.

Valspar Championship 2022 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)

Caddie: Justin Thomas (9-1, BetRivers) — Coming off a long, grueling Players as defending champion and on the wrong side of the draw will certainly lead to some mental fatigue.

Mayo: Louis Oosthuizen (16-1, DraftKings) — I’ll be the first to congratulate Louis if he wins his first event in the United States, but I’m not willing to wager my money on that happening at this price.

Gdula: Dustin Johnson (15-1, FanDuel) — DJ’s heating up a bit but is doing a lot of it with a hot putter. At a dogleg-heavy setup, I’d rather go with Hovland, Thomas, or Morikawa if backing a favorite this week.

Gehman: Shane Lowry (25-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — On a tree-lined course with plenty of trouble if you’re wayward off-the-tee, I worry about Lowry. Though he gains strokes off-the-tee, he does it with distance more than accuracy. He’s 148th on tour in driving accuracy and missing the fairway at the Copperhead Course only compounds your errors.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Xander Schauffele (14-1, DraftKings) — This is a tough week to fade someone—we’ve seen all these guys show flashes lately. Xander, however, has been up and down … and he rates out the worst amongst the favorites in my model. I think the number’s a bit too short for me.

Powers, Golf Digest: Viktor Hovland (11-1, FanDuel) — Dangerous fade considering no one on the planet is hitting it better but those short-game woes are very much back. He even admitted on Monday at Sawgrass that he doesn’t practice chipping as much as he should. Um, you’re telling me, Viktor!

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Brooks Koepka (29-1, FanDuel) — Historically, Koepka struggles to get up for these weaker field events and I can’t see this week being any different. Koepka missed the cut on his only previous visit here and has missed two of his last three cuts on the PGA Tour.

Valspar Championship picks 2022: Matchups

Caddie: Mito Pereira (-110) over Lanto Griffin (DraftKings) — Both guys average 300-plus off the tee, but Mito is significantly straighter, which will be a big-time advantage at the demanding Innisbrook course.

Mayo: Justin Thomas (+100) over Viktor Hovland (DraftKings) — I can get even money on the guy who can get it up and down out of a bunker at a difficult course? Sign me up.

Gdula: Tommy Fleetwood (+112) over Abraham Ancer (FanDuel) — Fleetwood’s pretty easily the better golfer over the past six months and comes with pretty great odds at +112.

Gehman: Keegan Bradley (+105) over Abraham Ancer (DraftKings) — I’m a big fan of Ancer this week, but it’s hard to pass up “plus money” for Bradley right now. He was second in the field from tee-to-green last week, behind only Viktor Hovland. He stumbled to the finish line by playing his final two holes at 3-over par and also took a two-shot penalty for a ball-marking issue early in the week. Even with all that adversity, he finished T-5 and now heads to the Valspar Championship where he finished runner-up last year.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Viktor Hovland (-116) over Xander Schauffele (Bet365) — Hovland should be a bigger favorite than this … Xander had the great finish in Phoenix but has been inconsistent apart from that—particularly off the tee, which can get him in trouble here. Hovland might be a top-three driver of the golf ball right now, and I’d trust him all day in this matchup.

Powers, Golf Digest: Keegan Bradley (-110) over Webb Simpson (Bet365) — Something appears to be very off with Webb right now and Keegan has turned a corner on the Florida swing, making him the far more attractive play in this matchup of major winners.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Xander Schauffele (-137) over Tyrrell Hatton (Betfair) — Xander is my pick to win this week, Hatton on the other hand ranks just 76th in the FanShareSports Course Suitability Ranking. Statistically he does not put well on fast Bermuda and missed the cut on his only visit to Copperhead at Innisbrook.

Matchup Results from the Players Championship: Caddie: 1 for 1 (Lowry (+110) over Im); Mayo: 1 for 1 (K.H. Lee (-110) over Watson); Gdula: 1 for 1 (McIlroy (-110) over Schauffele); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Homa (-110) over Leishman); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Scheffler (-108) over Cantlay); Hennessey: 0 for 1; Powers: 0 for 1

Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 13-3-4 (up 9.17 units); Powers: 13-5-2 (up 7.66 units); Caddie: 11-7-2 (up 3.77 units); Alldrick: 9-10-1 (down 2.32 units); Hennessey: 9-10-1 (down 3.91 units); Gdula: 8-12-0 (down 4.57 units); Gehman: 6-11-3 (down 5.53 units)

Valspar Championship picks 2022: Top 10s

Caddie: Patton Kizzire (+1000, DraftKings) — Very quietly, Kizzire has been having a consistent season. Having carded 10 birdies in his last round, Patton is poised for another good finish this week.

Mayo: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+550, DraftKings) — As a glutton for punishment, I’ll be going back to Bezuidenhout once again. Eventually his once famous hot putter will resurface, right? RIGHT???? Even so, his usual driving woes will be somewhat mitigated at a course that puts an emphasis on accuracy over distance, which always plays perfectly into the South African’s skill set.

Gdula: Russell Knox (+600, FanDuel) — Knox ranks sixth in true SG/tee-to-green over the past three months, according to datagolf, and he is hyper accurate off the tee, which is a plus at Copperhead.

Gehman: Louis Oosthuizen (+180, DraftKings) — Oosthuizen is a staple on the first page of leader boards, not only in recent weeks but also at the Valspar. In his only three trips to this event, he’s never finished worse than T-16, highlighted by a runner-up finish in 2019. His excellent long-iron play and putting will go a long way at this course.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Shane Lowry (+300, Bet365) — Lowry’s approach play is fifth in this field over the past 36 rounds, per Fantasy National … and he’s been in the mix the past two weeks. He tends to thrive on tougher courses like the Copperhead, too, so even though he might be a little gassed, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t keep up this consistent play.

Powers, Golf Digest: Sean O’Hair (+2000, Bet365) — O’Hair has been boom or bust at Innisbrook in his long career, having won here in 2008, finishing second in 2015 and missing a whole bunch of cuts in his other trips. Maybe he goes boom this week, which wouldn’t be that crazy given he quietly has three top 25s in his last seven starts on tour.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Brian Harman (+700, DraftKings) — Harman is another excellent putter on fast Bermuda greens and ranks top 20 in the field this week for both short and long term form in terms of SG/total over the last two months and last two years. Harman has had mixed form here at Innisbrook but he does have a pair of top-25 finishes here in his career.

Top-10 results from the Players Championship: Everybody: 0 for 1

Top-10 results from this season: Powers: 8 for 20 (up 30.25 units); Alldrick: 4 for 20 (up 9.5 units); Gehman: 4 for 20 (up 0.7 units); Mayo: 2 for 20 (down 2.45 units); Hennessey: 4 for 20 (down 4.53 units); Caddie: 5 for 20 (down 5.75 units); Gdula: 1 for 20 (down 16.6 units)

Valspar Championship picks 2022: One and Done

Gehman: Dustin Johnson —
This is a weird spot to deploy Johnson, but I think it has merit. I’m fairly bearish long-term on him, which means it’s unlikely I will roll him out at any major. He just finished tied the course record at TPC Sawgrass in the final round, so he’s coming in on a heater. There’s also plenty of evidence that the winner of the Valspar will need to destroy the par 5s and be great on the long par 3s—both of those are right in the wheelhouse for DJ!

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Kevin Na; Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Louis Oosthuizen. Zozo Championship: Hideki Matsuyama. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Abraham Ancer. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Scottie Scheffler. Sentry TOC: Sungjae Im. Sony Open: Corey Conners. American Express: Talor Gooch. Farmers Insurance Open: Tony Finau. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Daniel Berger. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Viktor Hovland. Genesis Invitational: Xander Schauffele. Honda Classic: Billy Horschel. Arnold Palmer Invitational: Rory McIlroy. Players Championship: Jon Rahm.

Hennessey: Shane Lowry — Nailed Cam Smith in this spot for One and Done. wow! Amazing! Did you bet him? —hope someone bet him, because I didn’t! Let’s make it two for two with Shane Lowry for the same reasons I like him as a top-10 bet (above).

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo; Sanderson Farms Championship: Carlos Ortiz. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Collin Morikawa. Zozo Championship: Takumi Kanaya. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Aaron Wise. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Marc Leishman. American Express: Sungjae Im. Farmers Insurance Open: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Lanto Griffin. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Viktor Hovland. Genesis Invitational: Will Zalatoris. Honda Classic: Russell Knox. Arnold Palmer Invitational: Keith Mitchell. Players Championship: Cameron Smith.

Powers: Sam Burns — Don’t envision needing Burns at any of the majors or other bigger tournaments so this feels like a good spot to utilize him off a solid week at the Players.

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Brendan Steele. Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Aaron Wise. CJ Cup: Talor Gooch. Zozo Championship: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda Championship: Patrick Rodgers. Mayakoba: Jhonattan Vegas. Houston Open: Marc Leishman. RSM Classic: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Daniel Berger. Sony Open: Kevin Na. American Express: Seamus Power. Farmers Insurance Open: Luke List. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Cameron Tringale. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Bubba Watson. Genesis Invitational: Adam Scott. Honda Classic: Billy Horschel. Arnold Palmer Invitational: Chris Kirk. Players Championship: Xander Schauffele.

About our experts

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long- and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio.) Mayo (@ThePME) was named 2021 Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writing Association, while also being a finalist for Podcast of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year. Mayo won the 2020 FSWA Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award in 2020. He was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.

Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.

Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.

Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.