Welcome to Three Shots at the Green, where each week I’ll use my experience as a PGA Tour caddie and golf writer to identify the three best bets on the board.
After we witnessed a dominant performance by Scottie Scheffler last week at The Players, the Florida Swing concludes this week at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort.
The Par 71, 7,340-yard layout is unlike the typical Florida course. It features rolling terrain, tree-lined doglegs and puts a premium on accuracy off the tee and strong mid-iron approach play.
There are five par-3s and four par-5s, providing more scoring opportunities than a typical par 71, however, the 20-mph winds forecast from Friday afternoon through Sunday and thick four-inch rough should defend par quite nicely.
The course history is sticky at Innisbrook. Sam Burns is the two-time defending champion. Paul Casey won in back-to-back years before he took his clubs to LIV. What all the high finishers have here is an ability to find the fairway off the tee – often with less than driver – hit quality mid-iron approach shots and scramble out of dense Bermuda rough to undulating greens.
Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course is in spectacular condition ready for the Valspar Championship. pic.twitter.com/xKdsEC9K1y
— Pat Eastman (@PatEastman8) March 14, 2023
If you recall, in 2018 Tiger Woods started the comeback that ultimately culminated a year later with the Masters victory, by contending late on a Sunday at the Valspar. No surprise considering he’s the best mid-iron player ever.
We got back in the black last week, so let’s keep the momentum rolling before the Tour departs the Sunshine State.
Let’s take three shots at the green.
Adam Hadwin Top 20 +140
The 2017 Valspar champion, Hadwin has added a T-12 and T-7 since. He ranked third in the field in ballstriking at The Players and ranks in the top-15 in this field in Good Drives Gained and scoring in difficult conditions.
Historically, when his iron play is sharp entering the Valspar he follows through with a strong finish. He gained two shots on approach last week and should contend through the weekend.
Wyndham Clark Top 20 +180
Clark can gear down off the tee this week and find fairways, allowing his blossoming iron game to thrive. Clark has made 10 consecutive cuts and gained at least two shots ball striking in seven of the last eight tournaments.
He’s played the best golf of his career over the last nine months, thrives in the wind and ranks 27th in greens in regulation as well as top 50 in scrambling and sand saves over the last 36 rounds.
Victor Perez Top 20 +280
Always an excellent ball striker, Perez has enjoyed the best putting of his career in recent months, outlasting a strong field in Dubai in January and now ready to post quality results in the U.S., where his track record has been less than stellar.
Innnisbrook seems like the ideal place for Perez, who gained nearly 14 shots ball striking in his three most recent starts.
YTD: -8.95 units