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Valspar Championship picks 2023: Is it finally Tommy's time?

March 14, 2023
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 12: Tommy Fleetwood of England walks to the first the during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship at Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 12, 2023 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

As fun as the Players Championship is to watch and cover, we speak for the entire gambling community when we say that is the worst event to bet on. The volatility never ceases to amaze. Make a note for next year: whoever you think is going to play well, don’t bet them. Whoever you think is going to play poorly, hammer away.

We’re happily on to the Valspar Championship, a tournament Sam Burns is looking to win for the third consecutive year. Our experts believe that’s an unlikely outcome, which has them looking at ball-strikers like Burns who are in much better form coming in.

To help your best bets, we’ve assembled the best collection of experts in the industry—which consists of a caddie reporting anonymously from Innisbrook; Pat Mayo of DraftKings and FantasyNational.com; Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com; Andy Lack of RRG and his Inside Golf Podcast; and your two authors. Scroll down to read our best bets for the 2023 Valspar Championship.

Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2023 Valspar Championship.

Valspar Championship picks 2023: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Tommy Fleetwood (25-1, BetMGM) — The Englishman is due to pull off a win soon and his iron play has been very sharp of late.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Jordan Spieth (12-1, DraftKings) — The rough is up, wind is coming, and we need a player who scores enough with hot irons while saving himself regularly enough to stay afloat. Spieth’s won here in the past, has gained against the field in his past four starts (all elevated events) and has finally started to see his putter come around.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Matt Fitzpatrick (15-1, FanDuel) — Fitzpatrick finished T-5 here last year and has the game to grind out a win at this track. The irons are down right now, but he’s the deserved favorite behind Justin Thomas for the week. One of the few values pre-Keegan withdraw, his odds remained at +1500, so it’s an even better play now.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Adam Hadwin (25-1, DraftKings) — Hadwin is fresh off a T-13 finish at the Players Championship in which he gained 6.80 strokes ball-striking – per the RickRunGood.com golf database. That marks his fourth top-20 finish in his last seven starts and he hasn’t even putted very well recently. He’s lost two-plus strokes putting in each of his last three starts which is very uncharacteristic for Hadwin. Now he heads back to Innisbrook as a past Champion (2017) and looking to improve on his T-7 from last year.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Tommy Fleetwood (25-1, BetMGM) — Tommy Lad plays his best golf on tough courses, and aside from Sam Burns shooting 17-under last year, we typically get tougher conditions at Innisbrook. Fleetwood is ranked second in weighted strokes gained tee-to-green per round, per RickRunGood.com. Plus, his short game is objectively great, which is a skill you need when you miss the greens around here.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Gary Woodland (45-1, Bet365) — Hard to believe it’s been 12 years since Woodland captured his first tour win at Valspar, then known as the Transitions Championship (what a time to be alive. Shoutout Kenny Perry). Let’s see if Woodland can recapture some of that magic this week. After a poor ball-striking week at Bay Hill, the 2019 U.S. Open winner got back on track at TPC Sawgrass, where he gained 4.1 strokes on approach and 3.3 off-the-tee. Why did he finish 54th, then, you ask? He putted horribly, like he so often does. Putting is much less important at Innisbrook then it is elsewhere, though, hence Woodland’s maiden win coming here.

Note: Gdula picked Keegan Bradley to win before Bradley withdrew on Wednesday.

Past results: Ladies and gentlemen, we are officially heating up. We cashed our third straight winner at the Honda Classic with Christopher Powers backing Chris Kirk at 30-1. That continued a streak that started with Brandon Gdula correctly predicting Scottie Scheffler’s win at the WM Phoenix Open (13-1) and Rick Gehman hitting Jon Rahm at the Genesis Invitational (+750). Add in Gdula and Stephen Hennessey’s Tony Finau (16-1) winner at the Houston Open in the Fall and that gives the panel four outright hits on the 2022-’23 season. Let’s keep it rolling at the Valspar.

Valspar Championship picks 2023: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win

Caddie: Ben Griffin (50-1, DraftKings) — Griffin is a great Bermuda putter and that is super important around these parts.

Mayo: Garrick Higgo (90-1, DraftKings) — If you’ve followed Higgo for any time you know the streaks. The ball-striking has been on point all year, his touch remains some of the best on the planet, and the putter goes like a yo yo. He’s going to make bogeys. Bad ones. But he’s also one of the few players in this field who can go nuclear and reel off six birdies in a row while the field is sweating 10-foot par putts. Bet on the talent.

Gdula: Sam Ryder (100-1, FanDuel) — Ryder is a standout in two of the four strokes-gained stats: approach and putting. Those are the two areas in which you can gain the most strokes per week, so that’s a great long-shot recipe.

Gehman: Dylan Wu (100-1, DraftKings) — Let’s go way down the betting board to find Dylan Wu who is hitting the cover off the ball these days. He’s gained 15.61 strokes ball-striking over his last four events, which only accounts for 10 measured rounds. That’s +1.561 per round which is similar to Collin Morikawa’s 36-round baseline. He contended (T-10) at the Honda Classic and performed well (T-35) at the Players. Now he’ll get to tackle a much weaker field this week.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Ben Griffin (50-1, DraftKings) — We have to run this back. Griffin has been so consistently good, and obviously last week was taxing for him, but he’s playing the best golf of his life. He’s in the top 10 in this field in weighted strokes gained/tee to green. He obviously likes the Bermuda surface, and if his middle irons can just not be a complete disaster, and his wedges remain hot, he could contend once again.

Powers, Golf Digest: Byeong Hun An (66-1, BetMGM) — Seriously struggled on a longshot this week, ultimately landing on our sweet boy Benny An, whose game should be made for Innisbrook. He’s now been a positive approach player in six straight starts and has made every cut as a result, with a pair of top 25s. We’re going to need a spike week with the putter for An to ever win, and maybe that’s this week. He’s actually rolled it nicely (for him) of late, gaining 1.4 or more strokes on the greens in three straight starts.

Valspar Championship picks 2023: Players We’re Fading

Caddie: Sam Burns (18-1, DraftKings) — Hard to fade him at this course but he just hasn’t been in great form.

Mayo: Sam Burns (18-1, DraftKings) — This is going to look so bad when Burns figures out how to hit an iron for the first time in a month, but a three-peat at these odds are too much for me to swallow.

Gdula: Davis Riley (31-1, FanDuel) — I’m having trouble seeing why Riley is as short as 28/1 or 31/1 this week. I guess because of the runner-up here last year. He’s a strong iron player but is otherwise pretty moderate statistically.

Gehman: Sam Burns (18-1, DraftKings) — I don’t love the idea of fading the back-to-back reigning Valspar Champion but Burns’ play lately has been uninspiring. He’s far off from his 100-round baselines, especially on approach. He’s lost strokes in that category in three straight and in six of his last eight. Maybe he gets right at a comfortable course but there’s not a ton of statistical evidence for that at this price.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sam Burns (15-1, FanDuel) — I’m not sure if Steve Stricker, the last player on tour to win the same event three times in a row, was playing this bad of golf whenever he showed up at the John Deere Classic. But Burns has been mostly bad (yes, with some signs of brilliance), but not enough for me to back him at this ultra-inflated price.

Powers, Golf Digest: Justin Thomas (10-1, FanDuel) — Outside of a backdoor top-five at the WM Phoenix Open, he just hasn’t been good enough to back him at 10-1, even in this field.

Valspar Championship picks 2023: Matchups

Caddie: Davis Riley (+100) over Brian Harman (DraftKings) — Riley took Burns to a playoff here last year and he just so happens to be rounding back into form.

Mayo: Eric Cole (+100) over Joel Dahmen (DraftKings) — Dahmen’s yet to post a finish inside the top 40 in five starts this year. Cole, meanwhile, has bested that result in four of his past six starts. He even clawed through the weekend at the Players and got himself a nice payday with a T-27. The short game has started to wilt since failing to close at the Honda, but the irons have continued to be solid, and he’s been lights out on these familiar Florida greens.

Gdula: Wyndham Clark (-134) over J.T. Poston (FanDuel) — Clark, while not an ideal course fit, has a huge edge over Poston in tee-to-green play over the past half of a year. Poston’s taken a big step back, and Clark also has an edge in putting, so Clark is a clear priority here.

Gehman: Tommy Fleetwood (-110) over Brian Harman (Bet365) — The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook will ask you to be stout on approach and creative around-the-greens. Luckily for Fleetwood, he can boast both of those skill-sets. He gained five strokes on approach at the Playersr Championship and hasn’t lost around-the-green since May of 2022. He returns to the Valspar for the second time – finishing T-16 last year.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Brandon Wu (-130) over Nick Taylor (DraftKings) — A juiced-up price, but I think it’s warranted. Taylor had a nice West Coast Swing, where he usually tends to play his best golf. He’s now coming off two MCs in Florida, and he returns to another longish, tough Florida track. Brandon Wu had a nice Players Championship last week and has proven he can get it done a bunch of ways. At Bay Hill, he gained nearly 10 strokes to the field in the ball-striking categories. At The Players, he gained over seven strokes in the short game. That’s a lethal combination.

Powers, Golf Digest: Sam Burns (-110) over Matt Fitzpatrick (DraftKings) — I followed Fitzpatrick quite a bit at the Players Championship and his iron game looked broken, which is not where you want your iron game to be coming into Innisbrook. Yes, Burns hasn’t been great, either, but he did show some life at Sawgrass last week and this course is clearly a happy place for him.

Matchup Results from the Players Championship: Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Riley (-110) over Wise); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Jason Day (-125) over T. Kim); Lack: 1 for 1 (McIlroy (-120) over Rahm); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Rose (-136) over English); Caddie: PUSH (Montgomery -110) over Harman); Powers: 0 for 1; Mayo: 0 for 1

Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Hennessey: 13-6-0 (up 6.11 units); Gehman: 12-5-2 (up 5.72 units); Lack: 6-4-0 (up 1.63 units); Powers: 10-9-0 (up 0.46 units); Mayo: 8-10-0 (down 2.51 units); Caddie: 8-10-1 (down 2.16 units); Gdula: 6-12-1 (down 6.68 units)

Valspar Championship picks 2023: Top 10s

Caddie: Jordan Spieth (+165, DraftKings) — Spieth has good history here and he can get the ball up and down all day long around these greens.

Mayo: Justin Suh (+360, DraftKings) — Accuracy, irons, and putting. Suh has been doing them all, albeit not all in the same event. And he’s still finished top 10 in two of his last three starts. He hasn’t missed a cut since Vegas in December and is now seeing his game peaking through the Florida swing.

Gdula: Brian Harman (+360, FanDuel) — ​​Harman finished T-5 here last year and is a great course fit overall. Super accurate off-the-tee and with good stats otherwise, Harman is an obvious beneficiary of the setup this week.

Gehman: Victor Perez (+550, DraftKings) — After 12 consecutive starts on the DP World Tour, Perez will tee it up at the Valspar Championship this week. He’s been on a stellar run since the end of last year – finishing 12th at the DP World Tour Championship to close out 2022. He kicked off the New Year on the winning side of the Hero Cup and hoisted a solo trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. He hasn’t slowed much, following the win with a T-28 in Dubai and T-13 at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship. He’s playing well and has plenty of upside in this field.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Adam Hadwin (+280, DraftKings) — Love Hadwin this week, who returns to the site of a victory in 2017 and a T-7 last year. The Canadian gained nearly 10 strokes tee-to-green last week at The Players, and he should be an absolute factor at a course he loves.

Powers, Golf Digest: Luke List (+850, Bet365) — Last Saturday morning, List went from safely making the cut to missing it with a disastrous double-bogey 7 at the ninth hole at TPC Sawgrass, the 18th hole of his second round. That had to leave a very sour taste in his mouth and there’s no doubt he’s been stewing ever since. Can see him tee-to-greening this place to death and hopefully not putting himself out of the tournament.

Top-10 results from the Players Championship: Caddie: 1 for 1 (Tyrrell Hatton +360); Everybody else: 0 for 1

Top-10 results from this season: Gdula: 7 for 19 (up 15.6 units); Gehman: 6 for 19 (up 11.9 units); Mayo: 6 for 18 (up 10.1 units); Hennessey: 5 for 19 (up 8.35 units); Lack: 4 for 10 (up 5.5 units); Caddie: 4 for 19 (down 1.75 units); Powers: 2 for 19 (down 10.9 units)

Valspar Championship 2023: One and Done

Gehman: Justin Rose — Rose has been putting it all together lately – usually reliant on his short game, he’s been making great strides in the ball-striking categories. He’s gained strokes on approach in five straight, a stretch that included a win at Pebble Beach and a T-6 at the Players. He has three top-15 finishes in his seven starts here. If he can avoid trouble off-the-tee, he can contend for victory.

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo. Sanderson Farms Championship: Sam Burns. Shriners: Taylor Montgomery. Zozo: Sungjae Im. CJ Cup: Matt Fitzpatrick. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Aaron Wise. RSM Classic: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Cameron Young. Sony Open: Hideki Matsuyama. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Jason Day. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Scottie Scheffler. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Sungjae Im. API: Rory McIlroy. Players: Jon Rahm.

Hennessey: Adam Hadwin — The guy is consistent on courses he loves, let’s not overthink this one.

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Cam Davis. Sanderson Farms Championship: Denny McCarthy. Shriners: Emiliano Grillo. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Sungjae Im. Bermuda: Mark Hubbard. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Jason Day. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Patrick Cantlay. Sony Open: Matt Kuchar. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Will Zalatoris. AT&T Pebble Beach: Seamus Power. WMPO: Collin Morikawa. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Keith Mitchell. Players: Rory McIlroy.

Powers: Justin Suh — Suh’s closing in on a maiden win, with two top-six finishes in his last three starts.

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Sahith Theegala. Sanderson Farms Championship: J.T. Poston. Shriners: Sungjae Im. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Tyrrell Hatton. Bermuda: Russell Knox. Mayakoba: Thomas Detry. Houston Open: Sepp Straka. RSM Classic: Davis Riley. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Gary Woodland. American Express: Cameron Young. Farmers: Taylor Montgomery. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Sungjae Im. Genesis: Collin Morikawa. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Will Zalatoris. Players: Patrick Cantlay.

About our experts

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. Mayo helped create the golf stats and research website Fantasy National along with the Race for the Mayo Cup One and Done contest. Mayo won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time. Follow him on Twitter: @ThePME.

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. Follow him on Twitter: @gdula13.

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.

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 RickRunGood.com, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for Golf.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports