Golf: Florida Swing wraps up in "Snake Pit"

March 15, 2022 09:25 PM
USATSI_15998229

The calm after the storm. Wow. The Players Championship was a grind for both players and golf bettors with weather delays, heavy winds and an eventual Monday evening finish. Now it’s on to Palm Harbor, Florida, for the Valspar Championship, which concludes the four-week Florida Swing. 

It looks like the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook will see some rain leading up to the tournament, but when the players tee it up in the Tampa area on Thursday, much calmer conditions are expected versus what we saw last week in Ponte Vedra Beach. The forecast is calling for temperatures in the high 70s with winds around 10-15 mph.

So far, the Florida Swing has provided golfers with three challenging tests, due to both weather and the strength of the golf courses. Though the weather is better this week, another strong golf course awaits. PGA National (Honda) has the “The Bear Trap” and TPC Sawgrass (Players) has three of the best finishing holes in golf. This week, the Copperhead Course features the “Snake Pit,” a 4-3-4 finish on Nos. 16-18.

The Copperhead Course is atypical for Florida, with tree-lined fairways and very little water. It looks more like Sedgefield (Wyndham), Muirfield Village (Memorial) or Harbour Town (Heritage). The course demands players to be accurate off the tee, work the ball in both directions and come equipped with a hot short game.

Another angle I’m taking into consideration in my handicap this week: Players outside of the top 50 in the official world golf rankings who have not yet qualified for the Masters. Players have two more weeks to earn an invitation to the Masters via the OWGR. A few players in the field who are within striking distance of a top-50 ranking are Alex Noren (No. 62), Aaron Wise (No. 87), Jason Day (No. 99) and Troy Merritt (No. 100).

Here are the full tournament head-to-head matchups I considered and those that I played for the Valspar Championship:

Considered (7-7 YTD)

— Shane Lowry (-110) over Tyrrell Hatton

Played (6-7 YTD)

— Matthew Fitzpatrick (-110) over Jason Kokrak

— Keegan Bradley (-110) over Webb Simpson

-- Justin Thomas (-115) over Collin Morikawa

For all of the plays and a full tournament breakdown from myself, Matt Youmans, Wes Reynolds and special guest Pat Mayo, tune into this week's edition of “LongShots,” available at VSiN.com/podcasts

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