We bet the averages when it comes to golf, but because of the nature of the game and the big field of other excellent golfers, quite often those averages don’t work out. Scottie Scheffler is one of the best bets, when you go by the averages, and he was a terrific bet last week at THE PLAYERS Championship with an easy five-stroke win.
The averages at the Valspar Championship, however, would tell you that winning the same tournament twice in a row is a long-shot, so avoid last year’s winner at all cost. But this is where the averages break down. In 2022 Sam Burns won the Valspar Championship exactly one year after first winning the tournament. In 2019 (there was no tournament in 2020) Paul Casey won the Valspar Championship exactly one year after he first won the Valspar Championship by fending off Tiger Woods by a stroke.
So with back-to-back champions two times in a row, who is the next golfer likely to begin his run on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook? And just how likely (or unlikely) is it?
Favorites to Win the Valspar Championship
Justin Thomas (+1000)
Jordan Spieth (+1200)
Matt Fitzpatrick (+1600)
Sam Burns (+1600)
Justin Rose (+2200)
Keegan Bradley (+2200)
Adam Hadwin (+2500)
Tommy Fleetwood (+2500)
Davis Riley (+3300)
Denny McCarthy (+3300)
Dustin Suh (+3300)
Justin Thomas fits the pattern as someone who has never won this tournament before. But he was T3 on this course last year and he did finish fourth in Phoenix. In five starts at Innisbrook he has four top-20 finishes.
Jordan Spieth won on this course in 2015, and he just finished T19 at THE PLAYERS. Just a week earlier he was T4 at the Arnold Palmer, and is definitely playing good enough golf to win the Valspar Championship again this weekend.
The aforementioned Sam Burns is the two-time defending champion at this event. Even though his last three events this year are two missed cuts and a T35, he was T11 at the American Express and T6 in Phoenix right before that downturn. He knows this course well, and he’s playing the type of golf in 2023 that could make him a three-time winner.
Keegan Bradley was the runner-up here in 2021, and this season he has a T20 in Phoenix, a T10 at the Arnold Palmer, and he was the runner-up at the Farmers Insurance. Overall he hasn’t been great on this course – the runner-up in 2021 was his lone noteworthy result – but he’s definitely playing well enough to be in the mix come Sunday.
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