The PGA Tour heads southwest to the Tampa area for the 19th edition of the Valspar Championship, the anchor event on the four-stop Florida Swing.
A solid but not overwhelming field is headlined by world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, along with three additional top-15 ranked players in No. 10 Jon Rahm, No. 12 Jason Day, and No. 15 Paul Casey, the defending champion.
Other top names at Innisbrook include four of the five most recent Masters champions: Patrick Reed (2018), Sergio Garcia (2017), Danny Willett (2016), and Bubba Watson (2014).
As we do each week, here’s a round up of information and historical data to get you prepped for what’s ahead at the Valspar.
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Tournament: Valspar Championship
Dates: March 21-24, 2019
Where: Palm Harbor, Fla.
Course: Innisbrook Resort, Copperhead Course
Distance: Par 71, 7,209 yards
Architect: Larry Packard
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $1,206,000
FedExCup/OWGR Pts: 500/50
Defending Champion: Paul Casey
TV & ONLINE
Credit: PGA TOUR’s Youtube Channel
The name has had a number of changes, but the current Valspar Championship on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort has been a regular part of the PGA Tour since its inception in 2000.
Originally a fall event played just before the Tour Championship, it moved to the month of March in 2007. Valspar, an international manufacturer of paint and coatings based out of Minneapolis, has been the title sponsor since 2014.
Past winners have included such names as Jordan Spieth, Charl Schwartzel, Luke Donald, Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen and K.J. Choi.
HISTORY: TOURNAMENT NAMES
2014-18: Valspar Championship
2013-13: Tampa Bay Championship presented by Everbank
2009-12: Transitions Championship
2007-08: PODS Championship
2003-06: Chrysler Championship
2002-02: Tampa Bay Classic presented by Buick
2000-01: Tampa Bay Classic
HISTORY: RECENT WINNERS
2018: Paul Casey (-10)
2016: Charl Schwartzel (-7)
2015: Jordan Spieth (-10)
2014: John Senden (-7)
2013: Kevin Streelman (-10)
2012: Luke Donald (-13)
2011: Gary Woodland (-15)
HISTORY: TOURNAMENT RECORDS
2 – Retief Goosen (2003, 2009)
2 – K.J. Choi (2002, 2006)
266 (-18) Vijay Singh (2004)
Paul Casey shot a 6-under 65 on Sunday to capture the 2018 Valspar Championship, ending a nearly nine-year winless drought on the PGA Tour.
Starting the day five back, Casey shaved a shot off his deficit with a birdie on the par-5 first hole. But after a dropped shot on No. 3, the Englishman had just 15 holes to play, and was still five behind Corey Conners, and even more daunting, four back of Tiger Woods and Justin Rose – all of whom had yet to tee off.
FINAL TOP 5
1. Paul Casey -10
2. Patrick Reed -9
2. Tiger Woods -9
4. Sergio Garcia -8
5. Rory Sabbatini -7
5. Justin Rose -7
One of four championship tracks at Innisbrook Resort, Copperhead is the host course for the tournament, annually checking in as one of the very toughest on the PGA Tour schedule.
The course features tree-lined plush fairways with elevation changes you normally don’t find in the Sunshine State. In fact, with its tall Pines and rolling terrain, the course has more of a Carolina feel than Florida. Its layout stretches some 7,200 yards for the tour pros.
12-time PGA Tour winner, and current NBC Golf Analyst, Paul Azinger, once said, “Copperhead is the best course we play on tour.”
Holes: 18 | Par: 71 | Yards: 7209 | Slope: 142 | Rating: 75.9
The field for the Valspar Championship this week includes four players ranked in the current top 15 in the Official Golf World Rankings, featuring No. 1 Dustin Johnson, No. 10 Jon Rahm, No. 12 Jason Day, and defending champion Paul Casey (No. 15).
Other marquee players include Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson, and Webb Simpson.
In addition to Casey, former Valspar winners in the field include last week’s PLAYERS runner-up Jim Furyk (2010), Adam Hadwin (2017), Charl Schwartzel (2016), and Gary Woodland (2011).
1. Dustin Johnson makes his debut at Innisbrook. The world No. 1 is the heavy favorite and will be the top draw for galleries and TV crews. DJ owns two wins in 2019, but both have come outside the U.S. (Euro Tour – Saudi Arabia and WGC Mexico). A win here – his first on home soil – would be his 21st Tour title, joining modern day players Davis Love III and Lanny Wadkins.
2. Jon Rahm, who is also making his debut at the Valspar, owned the 54-hole lead last week at Sawgrass, only to tank badly on Sunday with some lousy swings and worse decisions. Does the fiery Spaniard let the emotions carry over, or can he leave them behind? We will find out soon. Rahm will tee it up with Jason Day and Webb Simpson for the opening two rounds as he seeks his first PGA Tour title in over a year (2018 CareerBuilder).
3. Paul Casey looks to become the first back-to-back champion at Copperhead, which consistently ranks as one of the toughest tracks on the Tour circuit, with the “Snake Pit” ranked No. 4 among the hardest closing holes (16-18), averaging .607 strokes over par.
THE FIELD: RANKING & ODDS
Valspar Championship | Innisbrook (Copperhead) | Palm Harbor, FL | Mar 21-24, 2019
Carey Hoffman contributed to this report.
Credits: PGA Tour Media, Getty Images, Golf Advisor