We’ve got a new number one player in the world and his name is Scottie Scheffler. This win at THE PLAYERS was his sixth PGA Tour victory in the last 13 months and second of the 2023 calendar year. Despite windy conditions on Sunday afternoon, Scheffler still won by five strokes over a surging Tyrrell Hatton who started Sunday’s round nine shots back. We had another packed leaderboard with names like Viktor Hovland, Hideki Matsuyama, Max Homa, Justin Rose, Sungjae Im, Min Woo Lee, and Collin Morikawa. While it was disappointing to see Jon Rahm withdraw from THE PLAYERS with an illness, we will see him again in a few weeks at the Match Play which is the next designated event on the PGA Tour schedule. As for this week, the players head to Palm Harbor for the Valspar.
The players leave Jacksonville and head down to Tampa for this weekend's Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club which is more affectionately known as Copperhead. The course is 7,340 yards and a Par 71 but it is different from most Florida courses in that it is a little more tree lined than there is water. This Par 71 is also unique because of the layout which features four Par 5’s, five Par 3’s and nine Par 4’s. The Par 3’s are all 200 yards or longer which is another reason to target good iron players this weekend. The bigger hitters will be forced to put the driver away because distance is not at a premium on this course. Scrambling and Sand Saves will be key factors this weekend when you look at the bunkers that surround most every green and the length of the rough.
We have to discuss a string of holes known as “The Snake Pit.” These players will be truly tested on holes 16 thru 18. It starts with a 460 yard Par 4 with water all along the right side and a tight tree line along the left with a green that pushes balls away from the hole. Then you move to one of those lengthy Par 3’s which usually plays around 215 yards which has a narrow opening to reach a very long green. The course finishes you with a 445 yard Par 4 which has a green that is tucked away to the left which makes it extremely difficult for these players to make the green in two. All of the greens on Copperhead are a challenge to reach safely but these last three can really bite you which is why the course is known as Copperhead.
This is a difficult track and you really need to put a premium on accurate players. While Sam Burns does have power, he is a terrific iron player as well. Paul Casey, who is now on the LIV Tour, won this event in both 2018 and 2019 and he’s not known for his long drives but his precision iron play. This is not a course where you are going to see a bunch of 65s put up on the board, you are happy to get out with a 68-69. Be smart with your selections this weekend.
As always, I wish you all the best of luck and make sure you follow me on Twitter @DrewPhelps05 and hit me up in Discord throughout the week.
ONE AND DONE SELECTION: Dylan Wu