The Confidence Factor: Valspar Championship 2018

The Valspar Championship at Innisbrook is the host this week.

The strong field will make some fantasy decisions more difficult than others.

Updated with more stuff for your enjoyment or fading!


Valspar Championship

Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club

Copperhead Course

Palm Harbor, Florida



Yards: 7,340 per the official scorecard

Par: 71 (36-35)

Greens: TifEagle Bermuda grass

Rough: Bermudagrasss, ryegrass at two-and-a-half inches.

Bunkers: 75

Water Hazards: 8

Course Architect(s): Larry Packard (1972); Wadsworth Golf Construction Company (2015).

Purse: $6.5 million; $1.17 million (winner); 500 FedExCup Points.

Defending Champion: Adam Hadwin made his 54-hole lead stand up for his first victory on the PGA TOUR.


  • 144 players; stroke play;
  • Top 70 and ties make the cut.


2017-18 Winners Brendan Steele

CIMB: Pat Perez

WGC-HSBC: Justin Rose

Sanderson Farms: Ryan Armour*

Shriners: Patrick Cantlay*

OHL Mayakoba: Patton Kizzire*

RSM Classic: Austin Cook*

Sentry TOC: Dustin Johnson

Sony Open: Patton Kizzire

CB Challenge: Jon Rahm

Farmers: Jason Day

WMPO: Gary Woodland

AT&T Pebble Beach: Ted Potter, Jr.

Genesis Open: Bubba Watson

Honda: Justin Thomas

WGC-MC: Phil Mickelson


*First-time winner


The Particulars:

If you’ve made it this far by ignoring The Confidence Factor then I’ll have what you’re having. There’s plenty of news and notes, course form, winning metrics and general stuff to make an informed decision. Here’s the link for you lazy people!


Course Ratings since shifting to spring in 2007

2017: +0.512, a full shot easier than last year (same wind all four days).

2016: 3rd-most difficult non-major; 6th-most difficult total; +1.618.

2015: 10th; +0.843.

2014: 6th; +1.433.

2013: 7th; +1.222.

2012: 30th of 49; -0.268.

2011: 27th of 51; -0.183.

2010: 13th; +0.722.

2009: 9th +1.157.

2008: 8th; +1.970.

2007: 15th; +1.005


Previous Champions (calendar year since 2007)

2017: Adam Hadwin, -14

2016: Charl Schwartzel, -7*

2015: Jordan Spieth -9*

2014: John Senden -7#

2013: Kevin Streelman -10

2012: Luke Donald -13*

2011: Gary Woodland -15

2010: Jim Furyk -13

2009: Retief Goosen -8

2008: Sean O’Hair -4

2007: Mark Calcavecchia -10#


# Not playing this week


Facts and Figures:

  • This event began in 2000 but was moved to March in 2007. I’m omitting any pre-2007 history because the weather and stakes were markedly different.
  • Experience is not necessary as Woodland proved by winning the first time he played and setting the March course record.
  • Retief Goosen also won in his first trip to Innisbrook in 2003 for you trivia buffs.
  • J. Choi and Retief Goosen have both won twice but neither has won twice since the move.
  • O’Hair, Furyk, Donald and Streelman won it on their fourth try.
  • Spieth and Hadwin won on their third tries.
  • Schwartzel only needed two events to figure it out but this is the same guy who only needed one try at Augusta as well! Weirdo.
  • Course Record: Padraig Harrington, 61 (2012).
  • There were 21, bogey-free rounds last year marking the easiest it has played since 2012.

The Field


In order of preference for this week and this tournament

With the weather looking to be a bit goofy, I’m definitely going to lean on ball-strikers. Don’t forget this course had brand-new drainage installed on the greens, fairways and bunkers after the 2015 event so it shouldn’t bog down.

 Jordan Spieth: In his last stroke-play event before the Masters, Spieth will be playing for the fifth time in six weeks. His last 12 round are at par-or-better with “or-better on a streak of seven straight. Sadly for gamers, he hasn’t put two or three rounds in a row but he’s grinding away. He’s second in scrambling and fourth in scoring. He also doesn’t mind a bit of weather and elements.

Henrik Stenson: To illustrate how difficult this track has played the last three years consider Stenson’s finishes of fourth, T11 and T7 last year include THREE rounds in the 60’s. That’s it. I’m riding that 3-Wood again to cut off the doglegs and his irons to paint GIR.

Justin Rose: Last week was a rust-buster folks! It’s the only outlier in months of excellent play. The harder the course plays this week, the more it will favor Rose.

Sergio Garcia: He gave it a sniff last week on another course where working the golf ball is rewarded. I’d expect another concerted effort as Baby Garcia is due right around the corner. Please remember that Mother Nature is undefeated and Baby Garcia could potentially come at any moment. Have a back-up plan or omit altogether!

Paul Casey: His ball-striking numbers should translate wonderfully this week. He knows he’s in a Ryder Cup dogfight after watching Cabrera-Bello, Hatton and Garcia all finish above him last week. His T12 was a nice bounce-back after a disappointing Riviera.

Tony Finau: Don’t game angry, folks. He’s had ONE bad round this year and it was last Sunday. If his tee-to-green numbers are “normal” this week, he should be lurking on the weekend. Last year he closed with the low round of the weekend, 64, to cash the fifth-place check. It will be the magical fourth time for him this week.

Adam Hadwin: I joked a year or so ago that I would like to go back and track where recent form and course history intersect. This week’s contestant is on fire with three top-10 finishes in 2018, including his last two starts. Those starts have come on thinking man’s golf courses, similar to Copperhead. Did I mention he’s the defending champion? Defending for the first time always comes with a bit more responsibility than showing up in fantastic form as evidenced by his T9 with a final round 66. He’ll be more than pleased that Woods, McIlroy, Spieth and Rose are all in the field as the spotlight won’t get stuck on him.

Ryan Moore: He was the 54-hole leader in 2015. He was one of two players to post all four rounds at par-or-better in 2016. He racked up T18 last year. Keep it out of the trees and rough and make plenty of pars!

Rory McIlroy: I figure if I stick him in here EVERY week, I’ll be right at some point! He took last week off for a reason and I’m expecting a major response. His U.S. form, to be fair, has been dire but there’s no arguing his class. The events he’s selected to play this spring are interesting. Pebble Beach and three courses was a disaster but he played with his Dad. Riviera is a classic, old girl that requires 14 clubs. PGA National is no push-over, as he well knows. This will be another test.

Jason Dufner: He’s cashed in his last nine starts here so that’s the good news. The bad news is that only one of those has gone for a top 10 but I’ll point out there is nothing worse than T28 during that run. He was dire last week in Mexico so I’m expecting a sharp bounce-back performance on a familiar old friend.

Charles Howell III: He’s cashed in eight of the nine he’s played since the move to March. Of those eight, four have gone for top 10’s. Of course they have.


Next Tier

No particular order

Luke List: Remember the guy Justin Thomas beat in the playoff at Honda? Good. You should as he’s on a four-event run of T26 or better. He sits 24th or better in four of the six stroked-gained metrics.

Scott Stallings: After playing six in a row it was time for a break. He really didn’t have a choice because it was a WGC event and he didn’t qualify. I’ll point out his last four on TOUR are T29 or better including T4 at Riviera as the highlight. He’s hot.

Gary Woodland: The closing round 68 in Mexico City could be the spark he needs to get back on track after his win at WMPO. He has plenty of ammo to overpower this place and a pair of top 10’s that should give him confidence. He’s currently No. 2 on TOUR in GIR.

Charl Schwartzel: His last MC was the U.S. Open last summer. His last top 10 was the week before. TPC Southwind is no joke and neither is the Copperhead Course. There’s no doubt this course fits his eye as he showed up here last year on blah form and cranked out solo sixth.

Louis Oosthuizen: There’s something definitely brewing. He was hanging around the top 10 before 75 on Sunday at The Honda Classic. He opened with 64 and posted three rounds at par-or-better in Mexico City but a 76 on Saturday killed any chances of a big finish. Put four in a row together!

Webb Simpson: His 68 in Mexico City salvaged a quiet week but he was T5 at Honda the week before. I still can’t believe he’s in the top 10 putting on TOUR.

Kevin Streelman: His last MC was before Memorial Day last year. That resonates in multiple formats. He’s also a past champion. That resonates as well.

Lucas Glover: His last two Sunday rounds are 67 at WMPO and 66 at Honda. He’s playing his 15th-consecutive event at Innisbrook.

Steve Stricker: Dude won last week on the PGA TOUR Champions so he’s obviously doing something right. I’m never sure how it works out with Davis Love III, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk hanging around. Is it time for golf or time for Ryder Cup stuff? Both? Interesting nonetheless.

Matt Kuchar: The savings bond of the Valspar Classic has cashed in his last seven here.

John Huh: Properly trending at the event plus five straight paydays on TOUR. I can’t hide him enough but the forecast tempers my enthusiasm. Wind from four different directions doesn’t help.

Off the Beaten Path

Course horses, long shots, cheeky picks, DFS last call, red herrings

Branden Grace: He’s only MC 10 times in his last 86 starts worldwide. His only two trips to Innisbrook have produced a low round of 70 and five others 72 or worse.

Matt Fitzpatrick: He backed up MC in the Middle East with T30 in Mexico City. Why not add another country to the travels! He closed with 68 and is inching closer to the red-hot form that saw him close 2017.

Sam Saunders: A pair of top 25’s here in three starts should catch the eye. Don’t let that 75-74 at Honda throw you off the scent!

Jamie Lovemark: T52, T26 and seventh in his last three for those of you who like riding a trend.

Ben An: He keeps sniffing around at Scottsdale but he kicked in the back door at PGA National with 65 on Sunday to finish T5. His ball-striking numbers are straight fire emoji.

Adam Scott: Part of me wants to embrace the final three rounds at Honda. Part of me wants to give up after the first one. His form here is calamitous but his 67-69 scores on the weekend at Honda tear me down the middle. When in doubt, RUN!!

Dominic Bozzelli: He joins the “recent form-course form” mafia this week. Impressive (T26 Riviera, T13 Honda) double from the second-year player who shot bookend 67’s last year.

Kevin Na: Proper course horse as noted in The Confidence Factor.

Sam Burns: Do it again, son. Do. It. Again.

Graeme McDowell: Take the hook out! Take it out! He played the final 54 holes nine-under-par last year.

Bud Cauley: Ctrl-C; Ctrl-V.


Injured, rusty or not the track this week

Zach Johnson: He’ll tee it up for the first time here since 2013. He didn’t play well here when he was winning every season so I’m not pounding square pegs into round holes.

Tiger Woods: He’s never played here. What am I missing? See you guys next week at Bay Hill where he’s an eight-time champ!

Bill Haas: I have no idea what he’s going through or how golf will or will not help. I’m not sure so I’m not playing.

Alex Cejka: WD at Honda last time out.

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