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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Valspar Championship - Preview

Kevin Streelman returns to the Innisbrook Resort Copperhead course to try and defend his title in this week's Valspar Championship, and here is a little preview to get you off and running with your research.

The Copperhead Course will play to a par 71, stretching out to 7,340. Like the other courses on the Florida Swing, there is a fair amount of water to negotiate but nothing to the degree of Doral. Perhaps it is just perception, but the course seems to have a tighter feel off the tee and requires the ability to work the ball off the tee. While The Honda Classic had "The Bear Trap" and Doral has the "Blue Monster," prepare yourself to be bombarded by talk of the "Snake Pit at Copperhead this week. It is in reference to the 16th, 17th and 18th holes where birdies are truly rare.

While putting always matters, it seems to matter less on this course than it does on most. The premium is on ball-striking with a tilt towards driving accuracy and GIR. GIR from other than the fairway also serves as a fair stat to consider. Since the par 3s and par 4s are demanding, a look at the scoring averages on those holes are certainly fair game.

Here are the winners and runners-up since 2005:

  • 2005 - Winner: Carl Pettersson (275); Runner-up: Chad Campbell (276)
  • 2006 - Winner: K.J. Choi (271); Runners-up: Paul Goydos and Brett Wetterich (275)
  • 2007 - Winner: Mark Calcavecchia (274); Runners-up: John Senden and Heath Slocum (275)
  • 2008 - Winner: Sean O'Hair (280); Runners-up: Stewart Cink, Ryuji Imada, Troy Matteson, Billy Mayfair, George McNeill and John Senden (282)
  • 2009 - Winner: Retief Goosen (276); Runners-up: Charles Howell III and Brett Quigley (277)
  • 2010 - Winner: Jim Furyk (271); Runner-up: K.J. Choi (272)
  • 2011 - Winner: Gary Woodland (269); Runner-up: Webb Simpson (270)
  • 2012 - Winner: Luke Donald (271); Runners-up (P): Sang-Moon Bae, Jim Furyk and Robert Garrigus (271)
  • 2013 - Winner: Kevin Streelman (274); Runner-up: Boo Weekley (276)
Again, plenty of solid ball-strikers on that list, but fewer great putters. 

We will return tomorrow with a look at the power rankings. Until then, happy research. 

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