Read The Line

Snakes... snakes, why did it have to be snakes... 🐍

published7 days ago
8 min read


That's three in a row! 🏆🏆🏆

Congratulations to Scottie Scheffler for winning the PLAYERS Championship! That's six wins for him in his last 27 starts. Quite the year... his victory also marks our 15th win at Read The Line. In just 13 months, we have managed to bring home eight PGA TOUR and seven LPGA victories!

  • If you made a $100 bet on all of our outright predictions to this point, you would have won $15,610.
  • Our outright winner return in 2023 is over 20%!

If you haven't joined our betting community, don't you think it's time to Read The Line?


Quite the palette

We have one more week of the Florida swing as a field of 144 PGA TOUR players head to Palm Harbor Florida. The coastal Tampa Bay suburb is the location of the Innisbrook Golf Resort and the Valspar Championship. The Top 65 and ties will be competing over the weekend for $8.1 million dollars and a $1.458 million dollar first place check.

  • Seven of the Top 30 are competing and 22 of the Top 100 in the OWGR.
  • The Copperhead Course measures 7,340 yards and plays to a Par 71.

Just one stroke shy of a Par 72, this layout possesses a scorecard full of approach chances. There's five Par 3's on this course to go along with four Par 5's and nine Par 4's. Pay special attention to those Par 3's, because as a group they play a half shot over par (+0.55). Measuring from 195-235 yards, each is a test covering water, sand, and wind. One goal for the week must be playing these holes under par for four days. Do that, and your iron game will surely keep you in contention.

Scottie Scheffler led the PGA TOUR in GIR's last season and leads the Tour again this year. I stress it every week, and this event is no different. The narrative begins with approach play at the Valspar. Twenty-eight percent of your approach shots (the Par 3's for four rounds) will come from a perfect lie on the tee. You must take advantage of these holes and not spend strokes on these one-shot tests. Innisbrook is located just a couple of miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Watch the wind again this weekend as it will play a role in determining our winner.

Temperatures in Tampa are expected in the mid to low 70's during the tournament. The wind looks strongest in rounds two and three, and there's a significant chance of rain over the weekend. Two thirds of a inch are predicted (80%) for Saturday and another quarter of an inch on Sunday (60%). The guys have been on a great weather run lately so at some point a little wet weather is to be expected.

The Valspar has been played in May, March, October, and September over the last decade or so. Never quite one of the premiere Florida venues, this track does get a worthy ball-striker as champion.

  • The average winning score for the last five winners is 13 under par. For the last ten editions, the number lowers to 11 under par.
  • Six times in the last ten tournaments the winning score has been 10 under par or less.
  • The pre-tournament odds of our winners is about what you would expect for an event that moves on the schedule.
    • The last five winners averaged starting odds of +5600 (56-1) and the last ten average is +6600 (66-1).

The Copperhead Course is annually one of the top eight toughest courses on the Tour. The cutline average has hovered between one and two over par for the last decade. This positional test really rewards accuracy. Competitors must hit fairways and greens. Historically, the success rate to do both falls well under the PGA TOUR average. Throw in nine holes which have water and 74 bunkers, and one can quickly see why it is a ball strikers backyard.

Much will be made of the "Snake-pit" this week throughout the coverage. I imagine Azinger and Hicks mentioning it a nauseating number of times. Holes 16, 17, and 18 are a challenge, but overall, the course can be attacked on the Par 5's. Seven of the nine Par 4's are under 455 yards. Practice patience off the tee and when you get an iron in hand, you must lock-in. Our outrights this week are a thoughtful blend of extremely accurate players featuring great recent form.

Can we get four wins in a row...?

I believe we can. For the past month on the road, I have watched these men compete on some of the most difficult stages in golf. I travel so we can win! Picking the winner is all about a synergy between swing knowledge and statistics. Let's keep the streak alive with our list of outrights in the next section.

The Valspar starts in...


Where winners tend to win

In the last five years, there have been two winners of the Valspar Championship; Sam Burns (2021, 22) and Paul Casey (2018, 19).

Both past champions defended their titles once. Comparing the two players, and their victories, there are a couple of very significant trends that catch my attention. Here's a bullet point breakdown of what will be needed to be the PGA TOUR's next snake charmer. All of these are important, so I'll just start from the tee...

  • Practice patience. Wa'ailae, Harbour town, Colonial, etc. These courses demand accuracy off the tee and Innisbrook is another venue just like them. With eleven winding tee shots (of 13), many of the holes force you to layup off the tee. Much like the test at Pebble Beach and the others listed, getting the ball in the fairway is a priority. The players are facing one more week of a thick Rye grass overseed. The Superintendent's report mentioned an increase from three to 3.75" for rough height. I guess the last two winning scores of 17 under par were not appreciated.
  • Hit the green. Nearly 50% of approach shots come from outside 175 yards. Players barely average 60% of GIR's on the Copperhead. With five perfect lies on those Par 3's, and a bunch a of long irons from the fairway keep an eye on not just the best iron players, but the ones who can gain on their competitors. With so many shots from the same place, proximity is a huge differentiator.
  • Scramble skills. The Valspar winners have gained three times the number of strokes (2.7) around the green than they have off the tee (0.9) in route to winning. Short game and especially scrambling is an added edge. Pay attention to those who hung around at the PLAYERS. The ability to capitalize on Par 5's from short range boosts your score immensely over 72-holes.
  • Just putt. I spoke with several PGA TOUR level putting coaches over the past month on the road. This Poa trivialis overseeded Bermudagrass plays almost like a Bent grass surface or a northeast Poa. We won't stress Bermudagrass putting at Innisbrook. I didn't last week at the Stadium Course, and we won. Winners also gain over five strokes against the field on the greens. Take special notice to inside ten feet because I did.

Eighty-five of the 144 who played at Sawgrass made the trip down to Tampa. They are battle tested and ready to go. Much like last week, I want a careful blend of scoring ability (BoB%) and scrambling (Bogey Avoidance). Our card will feature guys who putt very well inside 10', strong long iron acumen, and my favorite on these courses; Good Drives Gained. Look at the list that will get us FOUR IN A ROW!

Outright winners - Valspar Championship

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That's three in a row!

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