Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club, Palm Harbor, FL – March 9th – 12th

Back to Florida we go after a mini vacation in Mexico. Palm Harbor is the location for the Valspar championship which is held at Copperhead Course at Innisbrook. The course is going to be a difficult test for the players and measures out as a ~7350-yard par 71 track. Judging by the commercial they ran every 10 minutes during last week’s tournament there is something called the “snake pit” on this course which is going to be a difficult stretch of holes like the “bear trap” that we saw a few weeks back. The snake pit is holes 16-18 so get ready for some brutal sweats as golfers near the end of their rounds on Friday and Sunday.

One thing that is a little atypical is that even with this course being par 71 there are still four par 5’s on the card and five par 3’s which is not usually the case. We are also back to the traditional format of having a full field of players and cutting to the top 70 after Friday so keep that in mind while constructing rosters.

The field is back to normal this week as well and overall it is not the strongest in terms of depth. There are a few big-name players teeing it up, but you are certainly not going to find the same talent at the bottom of the player pool this week.

This course is going to test players in several different areas and really will take any glaring weakness they may have and exploit it. Most players are forced to club down off the tee as the risk of errant tee shots can be deadly, which leads them to having long range approach shots to the green. Finding players who excel tee to green will be important, but I am putting extra emphasis on those guys who really get it done with their long-range approach shots (200 yard+).

Finding players who are solid in Bogey avoidance is my other key factor this week. Limiting the mistakes is going to play a massive role, unlike some weeks where birdie or better percentage is by far the most important factor we want to zero in on. If it is windy, which is a common theme at this place, it will put even more emphasis on those players who avoid the blowup holes and can grind out those one or two under rounds in difficult conditions. The greens are Bermuda so keep that in mind, but it is not something I am using as a primary factor this week.

Recap

I do a mini recap every week just to talk a little about the winner and how I did, but the real reason to look back on the previous week is to examine your plays and fix leaks in your lineup construction. Quick shout out to DJ, he really seems to be breaking out of the pack at the top but I will stay on team Rory for now.

Obviously with golf and most other DFS sports there is the difficult task of figuring out if your plays were good or bad and then how “lucky” or “unlucky” you got with those same plays. It can be tough to gauge and for the most part plays usually fall in the middle of being solid who slightly over or underachieved.

This week was the first this year in golf that I felt like I made a few glaring mistakes and was fortunate to only take a small loss. First mistake was I ended up raking myself by just having way too big of a core. Having a no cut event did change my roster construction dynamic, but I had multiple players at 10-15% who I had no business even playing. It really made my lineups have no consistency or flow which was a glaring problem and is something I am glad I noticed. That is a totally preventable problem and something I will absolutely be making sure I correct this week.

Second mistake is one I can live with which is the course for the most part fooled me. I expected it to play slightly tougher than most thought, which it did, but I really thought the straight good iron hitters like Hideki, Scott, Knox, Grillo etc. would excel and they all struggled. The course did not cater to their games as I hoped, but I was happy about correlating my lineups with similar types of golfers that was a huge plus for me. The lineups with all those type of iron players obviously did not perform, but I still had some solid lineups that went with other strategies and that was enough to salvage what could have been a potentially super ugly week. I was fortunate though, and am glad that I can get back to cut events which I greatly prefer and be more aware of making sure I take a few stands and hone in on those core players instead of spreading myself way too thin.

Targets

Top Tier

Henrik Stenson $11,700 DK / $22,800 FDraft – When I said last week that motivation could be a factor with Stenson I thought that if he struggled early he may just coast and finish in the middle of the pack. He took it to a different level with his WD, citing a stomach virus. Stenson has had his fair share of sudden WD’s in the past so it is not a total shock, but he burned a lot of people. I will keep monitoring the news leading up to Thursday, but I would assume Stenson is all systems go and expect him to bounce back nicely. This is a situation where if he played well last week and had a top finished he would be IMO the most popular golfer this week. I expect his shady business from last week to keep ownership somewhat down and I do not mind taking another shot with the super talented Swede.

Bill Haas $9,200 DK / $20,300 FDraft – Anytime there is a tournament where I know the winning score is going to be around -10 or lower it puts guys like Bill Haas at a huge advantage. Haas will have rounds with only a few non-pars and that usually is a killer, but at a place like this it may be a benefit. He is excellent in bogey avoidance and is the perfect type of golfer to grind out decent rounds in tough conditions. Haas usually does not have the firepower to compete at birdie fests so this is a week I will target him in what is expected to be a week with far less birdies that usual.

Ryan Moore $9,000 DK / $20,600 FDraft – There was a moment last week where I thought Ryan Moore was going to make some noise and contend, but he ended up in an uneventful 28th. Moore seems to go overlooked often and this is a course where he has posted two straight top five finishes at. He has struggled besides those two recent showings at this course, but I think his game is in a nice spot to grind out the type of rounds to contend this week. Another guy who really excels with his approach shots, especially long ones, and should benefit from still being able to attack four par 5’s this week instead of the typical three usually seen at a par 71.

Middle Tier

Jason Dufner $7,900 DK / $18,500 FDraft – In the last eight years at this tourney Dufner has finished no worse than 28th which is amazing, and no better than 10th which is uneventful. Based off that he clearly seems to be a safe target this week and should deliver a top 25 finish, but the upside does seem to be capped here. I think he makes sense as a safe low risk play and he should again be in line for a very respectable showing.

Steve Stricker $7,400 DK / $16,900 FDraft – I could just write Bill Haas’ blurb again for Stricker because it applies just as much to him. Stricker does not play too often, but when he does it seems to be at tough courses that emphasize grinding out tough pars instead of making a ton of birdies which fits his game nicely. He is extremely solid pretty much across the board, and the harder the conditions the better it will be for Stricker. Not huge upside, but on a week like this I will gladly take Stricker’s ability to avoid bogeys over some of the more volatile golfer’s ability to make birdies.

Jim Furyk $7,200 DK / $17,300 FDraft – Another one who fits the Haas and Stricker mold, but his recent form has been a little shaky. Furyk got a late start to the season so he may still be shaking off the rust, and he is great with his iron game which will help here. Course history is solid for Furyk and I think he is a safe solid mid-range play similar to Stricker with a little more risk reward.

Lower Tier

Nick Watney $7,100 DK / $16,400 FDraft– Watney has been sub 2% in pretty much every tourney so far this year and has shown flashes of getting back his very solid pre-injury 2015 form. I think this may be the week his ownership jumps up a little, but I still expect him to be decently sneaky. One of the few golfers this week that has good course history and good recent form going for him. I am going to jump on Watney now because if he continues this solid play you are going to see ownership really start to jump up in the coming weeks.

Lucas Glover $6,900 DK / $16,400 FDraft – Glover has not been great this year, but he is quietly putting together a solid start to 2017. Fits the mold here, excellent ball striker and should be able to easily handle these long approach shots the players will face. Glover cannot putt he is terrible with the flat stick, but when he is on Bermuda greens he is upgraded to just being a somewhat bad putter which can only help his short game. We do not need him to gain any strokes with his putting, just be average and let his ball striking skills take over.

Bud Cauley $6,500 DK, $15,500 FDraft – Deep GPP play here, but if you do go stars and scrubs this week there are not many options below 7k to choose from. Cauley’s best weapon is his irons and is someone I wanted to target early in the year, but have not found a spot yet that I loved him in. Not sure if this is the perfect setup for him either, but if you have a team that you love and need a bottom priced player I do not mind Cauley in GPP’s.

Fades

Graham DeLaet $8,400 DK / $18,800 FDraft – Definitely not an all-out fade here. DeLaet seems like he is going to be super popular with his combo of solid recent play and excellent course history. The price seems fair, and he pretty much lines up well across the board. As Thursday gets closer if it seems like he may be massively owned I will probably come in underweight or try to line up with the fields exposure and differentiate elsewhere in my lineups. I think DeLaet does carry some cut risk which always makes a GPP fade a reasonable idea.

Good luck everyone!

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