Betting Analysis

Valspar Championship picks 2024: Can the big-game hunter tame Innisbrook?

March 19, 2024
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 17: Brian Harman of The United States walks to his second shot on the 10th hole with his golf glove in his mouth during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass on March 17, 2024 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

It wasn't exactly going out on a limb, but it still took some guts for our anonymous caddie to take Scottie Scheffler to win the Players Championship last week. No player had ever gone back-to-back, and it was a roll of the dice to expect him to back up his strong putting week at Bay Hill.

With that hit, our panel now has two winners on the year (Pat Mayo hit Jake Knapp at the Mexico Open). It's a good start, but far from where we want to be. This week some of the PGA Tour's best face another tough test in Innisbrook for the Valspar Championship, which will be a tough test for us, too. Let's see if, like Scottie, we can go back-to-back.

What You Need to Know Before Betting the 2024 Valspar Championship

Our betting panel is comprised of a caddie reporting anonymously from the grounds of TPC Sawgrass, Pat Mayo of Underdog/Mayo Media Network, Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel, Andy Lack of RunPureSports.com, your two authors and Keith Stewart, the CEO of Read The Line. Stewart, our newest member of the panel, is our new betting content partner as well, and he joined us on The Loop podcast this week for a picks segment that we encourage you to listen to. Stewart is on-site this week at the Valspar—his sixth event of 2024. His insights will help our betting content immensely, though Mayo is on a bit of a heater—hitting Knapp outright in Mexico and going on a 9-2-0 run on matchup bets thus far.

Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2024 Valspar Championship.

Valspar Championship picks 2024: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Xander Schauffele (+650, FanDuel) — Xander’s game is razor-sharp and a level above anyone else here. He seems committed to playing—and he’s motivated to show people he’s a winner.

Pat Mayo, Underdog/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Brian Harman (22-1, FanDuel) — This feels like a Ricky Bobby situation. Either Harman keeps the momentum of the last few weeks going and rides it to a win to close the Florida Swing or completely implodes and misses the cut by five. I’ll bet one in 20 times it’s a win.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Xander Schauffele (+650, FanDuel) — I know he’s the favorite, and I know he has the perception of not being able to close out wins, but over the last 50 rounds, he leads Sam Burns by 0.76 strokes gained per round (via datagolf) and everyone else by at least 0.98 per round. My model has him right on line with +650 odds.

Keith Stewart, Read The Line: Sam Burns (12-1, FanDuel) — Sam Burns clearly loves to paint. In five starts at the Valspar, Burns has finished 12th, 13th, first, first and sixth last year. He is, by far, the strokes gained king of the Copperhead Course. Burns’ recent string of consistent play has been one of the longest stretches in his career. Now he’s returning to the course where he has contended (and won) the most! Gaining an average of five strokes on the field total over his last five starts, I’d say he’s ready to charm the snake.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (45-1, FanDuel) — Coming off a T-13 at The Players and a runner-up at the AMEX, C-Bez leads the field in SG/approach over the past 36 rounds, per RickRunGood.com. The putter has held him back, but he’s top 25 in this field in SG/putting on Poa trivialis like we have at the Copperhead Course, per BetSperts.com. If his short game cooperates, he will be live for his first PGA Tour win.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Brian Harman (22-1, FanDuel) — A year ago I would have laughed at a 22-1 next to Brian Harman’s name. But between the Open win, his strong Ryder Cup performance as a rookie and last week’s runner-up finish, Harman has confirmed what many already knew about him – he's got that dog in him. Like TPC Sawgrass, Innisbrook is a similarly tactical challenge, which should suit a scorching hot Harman perfectly right now. He’s been hit or miss here in his career with a fifth, another top 25 and five missed cuts in seven appearances. The way he’s trending, I expect another hit this week.

Andy Lack, Run Pure Sports and Inside Golf podcast: Justin Thomas (14-1, DraftKings) — This might be the last time for a while I’m able to get away with betting Justin Thomas, but let’s call this my final stand. Thomas has undeniably played some excellent golf this year, but just when people start to get really encouraged, he lays an egg at the two biggest events thus far of the season. Now with public perception low, I really like the buy-low spot here for the two-time major winner at a golf course that he’s recorded three top 10s in six appearances. Even in the missed cut at the Players, Thomas was one of the leaders of the field in approach. On a course where over 50 percent of approach shots come from over 175 yards, JT’s iron play should shine. It’s time to get over the hump.

Past results: Ding, ding, we have another winner. Our anonymous caddie hit on Scottie Scheffler (+550) at the Players Championship. That’s our second outright cash of 2024, with Pat Mayo correctly predicting Jake Knapp’s win at the Mexico Open (40-1). Now it’s time for us to get HOT.

Valspar Championship picks 2024: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win

Caddie: Maverick McNealy (60-1, FanDuel) — Nothing says you’re back and healthy like a top 10 at The Players. I think this is great value for someone who plays his best golf on Point A to Point B courses. He got a taste of contending in a huge event last week, which will serve him well in Tampa.

Mayo: Taylor Moore (75-1, FanDuel) — In a year where it’s been Scheffler and randos hoisting novelty checks (do they still do that?), the logic of betting Moore again for a repeat at an event, which has seen each of its previous two winners repeat, isn’t exactly flawed. And it’s not like he’s struggling either. Moore has flipped his driver after struggles on the West Coast, has gained on approach and around the greens in three of his last four. And based on what we saw Sunday last year, he can figure out these greens.

Gdula: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (45-1, FanDuel) — Bezuidenhout is playing with top-15 irons and putting over the last three, and he is trending toward his first win since 2020. He made his only cut here and should be a good course fit.

Stewart: Doug Ghim (50-1, FanDuel) — Doug Ghim has recorded five straight top-16 finishes on the PGA Tour. The talented Texas alumni is hitting it almost as good as his college teammate Scottie Scheffler. Ghim is gaining (on average) over seven strokes on the field in his past five starts. He’s gaining an average of three strokes on approach each event, and that makes him a perfect fit for the snake-pit. Ghim’s putter has always been a question mark, but he’s gained positively in four of his last five starts with the flatstick.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Adam Schenk (70-1, FanDuel) — This number has been on the move—I grabbed an 100-1 on Monday, and he’s as low as 45-1 on one book. It’s easy to see why people love Schenk this week: He was runner-up at the Valspar Championship last year and is coming off a top 20 at The Players where he gained over six strokes tee-to-green. We know he loves this course, and this number is still good enough to dabble.

Powers, Golf Digest: Daniel Berger (100-1, FanDuel) — I'm betting on the talent of Daniel Berger. He's shown positive signs—gaining over 5.5 strokes on approach in his last two measured starts. And he's back in Florida after a few weeks off after Puerto Rico. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he figures it out at the Valspar with his accuracy off the tee and ability to pepper greens.

Lack: Sepp Straka (40-1, BetMGM) — I was highly encouraged by what I saw from Sepp Straka last week at the Players Championship. The former Ryder Cupper is coming off a 16th-place finish at Sawgrass where he gained 1.4 strokes off the tee and 4.5 strokes on approach, good for his best ball-striking week of the season. Straka’s elite accuracy off-the-tee and overall approach play should allow him to separate on a golf course like Innisbrook, and I’m expecting a big week out of the two-time PGA Tour winner.

Valspar Championship picks 2024: Players We’re Fading

Caddie: Tony Finau (20-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — The course history is bad for Finau. This course mitigates his biggest weapon, the driver. It will also amplify his biggest weakness, his short game.

Mayo: Jordan Spieth (14-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Maybe he can chip and putt his way to victory, but the swing looks baaaaaaaddddddddd currently. Not great for an event where you need to be precise.

Gdula: Cameron Young (25-1, FanDuel) — Young doesn’t particularly fit the course and hasn’t played here before. His putter is cold, and the underlying splits aren’t great there, either. I’d need a longer number than this for Young.

Stewart: Tony Finau (20-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — In four starts at the Valspar Championship, Tony Finau has missed three cuts. He hasn’t even played here since 2018. Finau’s full swing is good enough to contend, but his short game and putter are not. Over 72 holes, it will be tough to make enough sub-par scores for him to keep up with the top of the leaderboard. Until Finau finds the flatstick, we will continue to pass.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Xander Schauffele (+650, FanDuel) — Kudos to Xander for showing up after the heartbreak at The Players. If I get beat by him, I can live with it—the guy hasn’t won a golf tournament in almost two years.

Powers, Golf Digest: Jordan Spieth (14-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Just hasn’t been the same guy since signing the incorrect scorecard at Riviera. Something’s off. Just hope he can get it right again before Augusta.

Lack: Min Woo Lee (30-1, FanDuel) — I will continue to fade Min Woo Lee as one of the tournament favorites until he shows any form of consistency on approach, and after it appeared his irons were trending in the right direction, the Australian laid another egg at the Players Championship. I understand Lee’s talent off-the-tee, but Innisbrook is a golf course that takes driver out of a player’s hands and requires them to rely on elite middle-to-long iron play. That’s the opposite style of course that I want to play Min Woo Lee on. Easy pass for me this week.

Valspar Championship picks 2024: Matchups

Caddie: Doug Ghim (-175) over Patrick Rodgers (Bet365) — Bettors and sportsbook seem to be paying attention what we’re seeing on tour: Doug Ghim is making the leap and realizing the serious talent he exhibited at the University of Texas. It’s worth laying the big price here.

Mayo: Sepp Straka (-130) over Daniel Berger (Bet365) — The extra bit of juice is fine for such a discrepancy between talent levels and form at the moment.

Gdula: Nick Taylor (-120) over Adam Hadwin (FanDuel) — Taylor’s irons give him a huge round-by-round advantage over Hadwin, whose putting is matched (and exceeded) by Taylor in recent rounds, as well.

Stewart: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (-110) over Aaron Rai (BetMGM) — Aaron Rai and Christiaan Bezuidenhout are both excellent ball-strikers. Each can get to the green with ease. Once on the green, Bezuidenhout holds a sizeable advantage over Rai. If tournaments were only played on Thursdays, Aaron would have a couple wins. Over 72 holes, the flatstick failures will allow C-Bez to take the H2H matchup.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Lucas Glover (-105) over Beau Hossler (DraftKings) — Glover has a big edge in SG/approach numbers versus Hossler—Glover is fifth in this field in SG/approach over the past 36 rounds, whereas Hossler is 82nd. Glover’s also top 10 in approach from 175-200 and 200-plus yards, whereas Hossler is in the bottom half of the field, per BetSperts.com.

Powers, Golf Digest: Matt NeSmith (-110) over Webb Simpson (DraftKings) — Webb has good history at Innisbrook, but he just seems like fade material right now. NeSmith has missed two of his last three cuts, but the made cut came last week at the Players, where he gained 5.3 strokes tee-to-green and tied for 26th.

Lack: Brian Harman (-140) over Min Woo Lee (DraftKings) — This is an easy one, as it’s pitting one of the best current approach players in this field against my fade of the week. Brian Harman is coming off his best approach week of his entire career last week at the Players Championship, while Lee continues to struggle tremendously with that aspect of his game. I will gladly lay the juice and ride the hot hand with Harman.

Matchup Results from the Players Championship: Caddie: 1 for 1 (Lowry (+100) over Morikawa); Lack: 1 for 1 (Conners (-120) over Hadwin); Stewart: 1 for 1 (Lowry (+100) over Morikawa); Mayo: 0 for 1; Gdula: 0 for 1; Powers: 0 for 1; Hennessey: 0 for 1

Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 9-2-0 (up 6.97 units); Gdula: 6-3-2 (up 2.3 units); Powers: 6-4-1 (up 1.97 units); Caddie: 6-4-0 (up 1.26 units); Lack 6-5-0 (up 0.92 units); Hennessey: 4-4-3 (down 0.69 units); Stewart: 5-6-0 (down 1.37 units)

Valspar Championship picks 2024: Top 10s

Caddie: Maverick McNealy (+500, DraftKings) — If McNealy can finish in the top 10 at The Players, he sure as hell can be there on the weekend in a lesser field. That was the confidence boost he needed to propel him into a big couple of weeks.

Mayo: Sepp Straka (+275, BetMGM) — Straka’s putting in 2024 has been abhorrent, losing a stroke and a half per start over his last six. However, the driving has been excellent, irons pretty good, and the chipping hot and cold. The bonus? Straka kind of does this then puts it all together at once. There are enough pieces in place to see that happening again this week, at a difficult course that plays into his strengths.

Gdula: Doug Ghim (+400, FanDuel) — Ghim enters with five straight top-20 finishes that are supported by great ball-striking and good putting numbers. He also finished T-27 here a year ago, and during a missed cut in 2021, he striped his irons.

Stewart: Brian Harman (+250, Bet365) — It is hunting season on the PGA Tour leading up to Augusta National. Brian Harman loves to point and shoot. The Copperhead Course is an approach test, and Harman just gained six strokes with his iron game at API and nine(!) at TPC Sawgrass, finishing second. With five par 3s on this scorecard, take Harman and build that bankroll this weekend.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Lucas Glover (+550, Bet365) — The approach numbers are strong for Glover, which I outlined above in my matchup pick with The Glove. Our guy loves Southeastern Bermuda courses, so he should be right at home at Innisbrook.

Powers, Golf Digest: Bud Cauley (+1100, DraftKings) — It’s only been two starts since Cauley returned from an injury caused by a car accident a few years back, but he’s looked surprisingly sharp. He finished 21st at PGA National, a brutal test, and he made the cut at the WM Phoenix Open but finished 65th due to an ice-cold putter. Top 10 is probably pushing it, but I saw enough at Cognizant to take a shot.

Lack: Joel Dahmen (+750, DraftKings) — Joel Dahmen is the definition of a streaky golfer. When it’s going bad, it can get really bad. Yet when the Netflix star finds any semblance of confidence, he’s prone to string together multiple strong finishes in a row. Dahmen spoke openly about how great he felt about his game after the Players Championship, and the stats back that up as well, as the 36-year-old gained over nine strokes ball-striking at TPC Sawgrass en route to an 11th-place finish. Now he returns to another demanding tee-to-green test that he’s had a fair amount of ball-striking success at in the past. I expect Dahmen to keep rolling in Tampa.

Top-10 results from the Players Championship: Lack: 1 for 1 (Si Woo Kim +450); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Wyndham Clark +450); Stewart: 1 for 1 (Hideki Matsuyama +333); Everybody else: 0 for 1

Top-10 results from this season: Mayo: 3 for 11 (up 5 units); Lack: 3 for 11 (up 0.8 units); Gdula: 2 for 11 (down 0.5 units); Hennessey: 2 for 11 (down 1 unit); Stewart: 1 for 11 (down 6.67 units); Powers: 1 for 11 (down 8.1 units)

The Major Bet We're Making on Wyndham Clark

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. 

Keith Stewart is a five-time award-winning PGA professional, a betting contributor for Golf Digest and founder of Read The Line, the premier on-site live golf betting insights service covering the LPGA and PGA TOUR. Subscribe to Read The Line’s weekly newsletter here and raise your golf betting acumen. Keith's winning content can also be found on Sports Grid, Bleacher Report and The Sporting News. Follow him on Twitter @readtheline_.

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 the head of golf content 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