The PGA TOUR heads back to Florida this week to take on the difficult Copperhead Course at Innisbrook.
Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson are the betting favorites, but a course like Copperhead has a way of leveling the playing field quite a bit. With narrow fairways, challenging greens and trouble lurking seemingly around every corner, there could be quite a bit of craziness over the weekend.
Here are our favorite prop bets and matchups for the 2021 Valspar Championship:
Abraham Ancer Top-30 Finish (-134)
Golf is a game of risk/reward. Go for the green or lay up? Cut off the corner of the dogleg or play it safe toward the fairway? Eat the slightly decaying hot dog at the turn or hold out until you’re done?
Like most bettors, I’m a fan of high-reward types of wagers. I’ll often give you a longshot in this space for a top-10 or FRL. This week, I’m going to use this to illustrate that sometimes you can lay up, you can play it safe in the fairway and you can hold off on that hot dog. Playing a guy who’s toward the top of this week’s list of favorites as a top-30 has all the excitement of playing a double-digit NFL fave on the money line, but wins are wins and money is money.
Ancer has finished in the top-30 in each of his last six starts and he was T-16 here in his only previous start. I guarantee this will be the unsexiest bet you’ll make all week, but think of it this way: With the cash you’ll bank for this one, you can roll it over into some other ones with bigger risk.
Emiliano Grillo to be first-round leader (+5000)
Grillo is one of the fastest starters on TOUR each week as he ranks 14th in the circuit this season in opening round scoring average. He also received the coveted Thursday morning tee time for a First Round Leader bet, and sets up great for this course.
I will be on Grillo throughout the event, but I hope to cash in on him quickly as I expect him to be in position to post a low opening round and be in contention for the first round lead.
Emiliano Grillo Top-5 Finish (+1200)
While the stats are always impressive for Grillo, the finishes don’t always pair with those stats accordingly. This week however, the Argentine is coming off two straight excellent finishes. Grillo backed up a sixth-place finish at Corales with a runner-up at the RBC Heritage, where he gained a whopping 7.1 strokes on approach.
The putter has obviously held him back in his career, but I don’t think that is as much of a problem at Copperhead than it is at other courses. He doesn’t have to make an exorbitant amount of birdies to contend this week. If he can produce his typical tee-to-green excellence and just putt to field average, he has a real shot at winning this week.
Charles Howell III Top-20 Finish (+250)
Howell has found his groove lately, posting three top-30 finishes over his past four starts including a T-9 at THE PLAYERS. He’s been doing this all without his putter cooperating for most of that stretch, as he ranks 115th in this field in SG: Putting over his past 16 rounds.
The good news is he ranks seventh off-the-tee and 14th around-the-green as well in that time frame. Howell actually gained strokes putting in each of his four rounds at the RBC his last time out, so he’s hopefully turning a corner with the flat stick. He also boasts great history at Copperhead, making six of his past seven cuts with two top-10s.
The veteran knows his way around this course and getting a top-20 out of him should be well within his range of outcomes.
Paul Casey (+104) over Viktor Hovland
Rather than go as far as to invest in Hovland missing the cut (as I ventured at Bay Hill where he faded on the weekend for a T49, and then MC’d at TPC Sawgrass), I’ll settle for him to fall short of doing better than only one guy, who just happens to be the two-time defending champion.
Why? The T2 at Concession aside, until he proves that he plays better consistently in Florida where he’s admitted he’s not a fan of the courses, I’m going to press.
Cameron Tringale Top-20 Finish (+188)
Tringale is a guy that is consistently undervalued by the betting public, mainly because he isn’t a household name quite yet. Over the last two seasons, he has been on a consistent rise, and has quietly become one of the better ball-strikers on TOUR. In fact, he ranks 5th in this field in strokes gained tee to green over the last 24 rounds. That puts him above the likes of Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed, and Viktor Hovland amongst many others in that time frame.
Tringale has five top-20 finishes in his last eight events played this season, and the Copperhead course sets up perfectly for his style of play.
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