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Preview: PGA Tour’s Valsar Championship

Preview – PGA Tour — Valsar Championship – Innisbrook Resort Cooperhead Course – Palm Harbor, FL –

The PGA Tour’s debuts a new sponsor this week at the Valsar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida.

The event features nine of the Top 30 ranked players in the world including Matt Kuchar, Jason Dufner, Justin Rose and Webb Simpson.  Dufner and Rose are reigning major champions and among the betting favorites heading into this tournament.

At 7,300-plus yards at a par-71, Innisbrook Resort’s Cooperhead Course rewards solid ball strikers and perhaps par-3 experts. The layout features five par-3s including three on the back nine. Par 3 statistics shine some light on potential winners. Both Rose and Simpson traditionally rank in the Top 20 in Par 3 Scoring Average.

The Snake Pit – holes No. 16 to 18 – could decide the champion this week. Golf Channel and NBS Sports share television coverage this week.

The international flavor becoming off the WGC-Cadillac Championship and just a month outside of the Masters Tournament includes Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey, Ryo Ishikawa and Padraig Harrington.

Luke Donald survived a four-man playoff to win here in 2012. That playoff includes veteran Jim Furyk, Robert Garrigus and Sang-Moon Bae.

2013 Outcome:

  • Kevin Streelman (10-under) won his maiden PGA Tour title here thanks to a 65-67 weekend performance after opening with 73 in round one. He edged Boo Weekley by two shots and Cameron Tringale by three. Donald, Greg Chalmers and Justin Leonard were part of a group at T-4.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports has the television coverage this week. Past champions here include Furyk, Gary Woodland, Retief Goosen and Sean O’Hair.

FANTASY: Look for Donald to round back into form. Horses for courses. He won here in 2012 and contended last year. Furyk is also a past champion in this part of Florida winning here and logging a runner-up in recent years and recorded a Top 10 last year. He made it to the Quarter-Finals in match play. Harris English has been a Top 10 machine in 2014 with six. Simpson is a Top 5 putter on tour and won in Vegas last fall.

BETTORS: Donald, a 16-to-1 odds, is the top betting pick at www.ladbrokes.com along with Kuchar, English and Jordan Spieth. Both English and Spieth logged Top 10s here last season. If you are looking for a player to win a second title this season, take a long shot with Scott Stallings (80-1). Take Dufner (20-1) opened 66-66 here in 2012. At 25-1, Furyk has great history at Cooperhead.

Other Golf News:

  • The European Tour hosts the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco this week. George Coetzee headlines the field – he is a 14-1 selection after coming off a win at the Joburg Open in February and a third-round effort in the WGC match play in Arizona. He lost to eventual champion Jason Day.
  • The Champions Tour visits the Southern California coast for the Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach. David Frost is the defending champion winning by five shots in 2013.
  • Four-time PGA Tour champion Andrew Magee is reportedly hanging up the clubs. At 51, he has been competing on the Champions Tour. He plans to enter real-estate sales.
  • Geoff Ogilvy still ranks second to Tiger Woods in World Golf Championships victories. Ogilvy has three, while Woods’ 18 may never be touched.