Confidence Factor: Valspar Championship

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Adam Hadwin was one of just two players not to post red figures on Sunday in 2017 but the Canadian’s four-shot, 54-hole lead stood up for his first TOUR victory. He co-led the field with 21 birdies and missed Woodland’s tournament record by a shot. Hadwin’s prior performance (71st, MC) on this track did give gamers any clues that he would be holding the trophy on Sunday. Hadwin’s lead was too much to overcome, especially with the daunting “Snake Pit” closing the day. The Copperhead Course played a full stroke easier in year two of the overhaul. It didn’t hurt that the wind was constant throughout the four rounds instead of swirling directions as it did in year two. The result was 21, bogey-free rounds including the low round of the week, 64, on Sunday by Tony Finau (5th).

The 2016 edition was the first tournament after the overhaul and presented problems for most of the field. Charl Schwartzel fired the low round of the week (67) on Sunday to chase down and catch 54-hole leader Bill Haas. The South African began Sunday five shots behind Haas and his six birdies on Sunday allowed him to catch up. His 18 circles for the week led the field as the adaptation to the new grass and new hole locations didn’t help scoring. Neither did the new TifEagle grass. The greens ran notoriously slow as even uphill putts were being left short of the hole. Schwartzel and third-place finisher Ryan Moore were the only two players to post all four rounds at par or better for the week. The Copperhead Course played the hardest Par-71 and third-most difficult non-major track of the year as it yielded only 10, bogey-free rounds.

I’m not putting as much emphasis on Spieth’s stats from 2015 as that was the last season of the “old” greens, grass and bunkers. The one number that does stick out is the Texan led the field in strokes-gained: tee-to-green. That number registers because the course routing was not changed; the fairways and greens were expanded after the overhaul and yet the bunkers were expanded. The three-man playoff on 10-under included Patrick Reed and Sean O’Hair but not 54-hole leader Ryan Moore. Henrik Stenson also missed the playoff by a shot as he could not birdie the final hole.

NOTE: Golfers inside the top 25 in each statistic on the 2016-17 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete in the Valspar Championship.

* – Finished inside the top 10 at the Valspar Championship since 2013.

Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green

Rank Golfer
2 *Jordan Spieth
7 Paul Casey
8 Rory McIlroy
9 Justin Rose
10 *Tony Finau
12 *Sergio Garcia
13 Luke List
17 *Gary Woodland
18 Byeong-Hun An
19 Adam Scott
20 Lucas Glover
21 Ryan Palmer
22 Ian Poulter
24 Webb Simpson
25 Bud Cauley

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