After a week at the PLAYERS Championship where Scottie Scheffler cruised to a dominant victory, the PGA Tour makes its way to Copperhead, where the tournament feels much more wide open. Golfers will be challenged in all aspects of their game this week, and the infamous “Snake Pit” will be sure to leave its mark on the field.
In the past five editions of the tournament, there have been nine first-round leaders or co-leaders. Of the nine, six have come from the morning wave, and three have come from the afternoon wave.
At Copperhead, weather is usually a major factor. The past two years has shown the course can be tamed if the conditions get soft and winds die down for the weekend. Sam Burns has won the event in back-to-back years, shooting -17 in both of his victories. Prior to that, cracking double digits under par was never a guarantee.
I believe we are going to see the more difficult version of the course this year. The course should be dry and significantly more gusty. As of now, the afternoon wave on Thursday will seemingly have an easier path to lower scores with the wind dying down a bit.
Valspar Championship First-Round Leader Picks
Tommy Fleetwood +4000 (DraftKings)
First-Round Tee Time: 1:08 p.m. Local Time
Tommy Fleetwood is my pick to win the tournament this week, and I believe he does so by getting out of the gates quickly.
Last week at the PLAYERS, we saw the Englishman post his best Strokes Gained: Approach numbers since the 2018 Honda Classic. Fleetwood is the type of player who can get hot for stretches at a time, and I believe he’s starting one of those stretches now.
It helps that he’s heading to a course that I believe suits his game more than any other on Tour. His putter has yet to catch fire, but when it does, he’s going to put up extremely low scores.
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Ludvig Aberg +9000 (FanDuel)
First-Round Tee Time: 2:25 p.m. Local Time
I believe that the world’s top amateur, Ludvig Aberg, is going to be a star once his game matures. As we’ve seen in the past handful of years, the maturation process for young elite prospects has seemingly been sped up.
If the 21-year-old Swede is indeed in that category, Copperhead should be a course that suits him. International players have done well at the course, with five of the past eight champions of the event coming from outside of the United States.
Aberg is a talented striker and Copperhead is a course that rewards elite ball striking.
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