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Monday, March 10, 2014

Valspar Championship - Power Rankings

Some weeks the power rankings jump off the page, while others they emerge from the fray. This week the Valspar Championship is more of the latter, with plenty of depth but not much bursting out at the top.

Perhaps part of the reason is because the Copperhead course doesn't necessarily favor players of a certain length, strong putters over ball-strikers, etc. In my humble opinion, that's what makes this a tournament with some character. It's not like half the field is categorically eliminated as is the case some weeks.

That said, this week's rankings are a bit vanilla for my taste. Perhaps safe. To make up for that, I went a little deeper with a few that just missed out and a couple of sleepers.

Here we go:

  1. Harris English - He's probably the only player that I'm really excited to watch this week. This course requires moving the ball both directions off the tee, and he can do that. He's been a top-15 machine this year, and ranks inside the top 10 in GIR, GIR from other than the fairway, Par 3 and Par 4 scoring average. That's pretty solid. Add to that, he tied for seventh here last year after missing the cut the year before. 
  2. Luke Donald - Solid form with a T8 at The Honda Classic and a T25 at the WGC-Cadillac meshes well with a stellar course history. He's tied for sixth, won and tied for fourth in his last three trips.
  3. Jim Furyk - Similar to Donald, Furyk has a win, a T13, a T2 and a T7 in his last four starts here. Form hasn't been quite as good as those mentioned above him, but it's going to be hard not to plug him in most formats this week.
  4. Matt Kuchar - Kuchar is steady, but not spectacular here of late. His last three trips to Innisbrook have seen a high of a T10 and a low of a T14. That's also pretty much in line with his current trend. 
  5. Jordan Spieth - Secured his Special Temporary Status here last season with a T7, meaning we finally get some course history on the kid. It's probably worth overlooking his T34 at the Cadillac last week due to the wind.
  6. Bill Haas - Had a really good week with the flat stick last week and his trending high, with his last three starts going for a T23, T17 and T6. Hasn't played here since 2011, but has experienced marginal success. 
  7. Webb Simpson - This could be an incorrect perception, but he feels a tad off lately. Still, he's four out of five here, with all four going for top 20s and finishing second in 2011. 
  8. Jason Dufner - Struck it well most of the week at Doral, but putter really let him down on the weekend. That's the hardest, and most important, part of his game to try and correctly predict. He tied for ninth in both of the WGCs in 2014.
  9. Justin Rose - There's still the question of health to a degree, but he continues to post modest finishes of late. He's made each of his seven cuts at Copperhead, with a T5 in 2010 standing as the only top 10.
  10. David Toms - Impressively tied for fourth in Puerto Rico last week, leading the field in driving accuracy. He's six for nine in this event, with three top 25s and one top 10. This could be a slight overreaction to his week in Puerto Rico, but he has tangible value this week regardless.
  11. Gary Woodland - Kind of funny to go from Toms to Woodland, which is a nod to the diversity this course produces. He (Woodland) was a winner here, then tied for 29th and missed teh cut in his subsequent visits. Form remains steady, but also just under the radar.
  12. Ben Martin - After his solo third in Puerto Rico, he improved from an alternate to a competitor this week. Mentioned in his post-round interview that he was excited to be back in the South playing courses that were more native to his eye. Growing up in South Carolina, he's no stranger to Bermuda greens.
Next 5: Graham DeLaet, Brian Harman, Russell Knox, Will MacKenzie and Cameron Tringale

These three were snubs for no good reason: Charley Hoffman, George McNeill and Bryce Molder

And here are what I would consider to be dark horses: Boo Weekely (actually, probably not exactly a DH), Jerry Kelly and Stewart Cink.

We will return next week with a hard look at the various gaming formats. Until then, best of luck to all!

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