Weekend Preview – PGA Tour – Valspar Championship– Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Champions Course – Palm Harbor, Florida –
Through two rounds at Copperheard, Steve Stricker has turned back the clock.
The 48-year-old fan favorite is tied at the top with Will MacKenzie after rounds of 71-66 to open the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship.
Stricker and MacKenzie (5-under) co-lead by a stroke and tee off at 1:45 p.m. local time in the final pairing in round three.
The Snake Pit — combined with windy conditions and slow greens – has many players scratching their heads. World No. 1 Jordan Spieth, the defending champion, rallied with a second-round 68 to barely make the cut after opening with 76.
The leaders are one shot ahead of last year’s PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Daniel Berger, who finished 9th in the FedEx Cup standings. Berger and Canada’s Graham DeLaet are 4-under heading into the weekend. DeLaet, long overdue for his first victory, is second this week in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, while Berger is T-1 in Greens In Regulation (GIR).
Former FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas is also at 4-under and could be the favorite to win at this point. Ranked 43rd in the world rankings, Haas is more than a year removed from his last victory in January 2015 at the CareerBuilder Challenge at PGA West.
A bevy of players are T-6 at 3-under just two back including two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, Charles Howell III, Ryan Moore, Jerry Kelly and Justin Thomas. Moore was 5th here a season ago and Thomas logged a Top 10.
With 12 career PGA Tour victories, Stricker will have plenty of eyes on him Saturday. He has figured out the greens and rides a hot putting into the weekend leading the field in Strokes Gained Putting.
For MacKenzie, he has youth on his side. He posted 67 in the second round hitting 15 of 18 GIR and needed just 22 putts.
Look for an ever-changing leader board all weekend at Copperhead as there are more than 30 players within five of the leaders.
Other Golf news:
- Scott Hend (14-under) leads Peter Uihlein at the European Tour’s True Thailand Classic by two shots through 54 holes.
- Stricker has more than 100 Top 10s in his PGA Tour career.
- Interestingly, both Stricker and MacKenzie were listed as “Field” players at 8-to-5 odds at Las Vegas’ Silverton Casino. There are plenty of high-payout options on the leader board including 57th-ranked Berger at 85-1, DeLaet 75-1 and Haas at 45-1 odds.