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DFS Dish: Valspar Championship

Davis Riley

Davis Riley

JEFF ROMANCE/THE PALM BEACH POST / USA TODAY NETWORK

While last week’s course featured a lot of risk-reward shots, this week is all about limiting mistakes.

The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook yields a high rate of pars, so plodding along patiently is the name of the game, and hoping to get hot with the putter along the way.

One key feature of the course is the difficulty, so let’s see who has historically had the patience required to handle a tough test.

Tough Track Specialists

The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort is one of the toughest non-major venues played on the PGA TOUR. The winning score has failed to eclipse 10-under in six of the last nine editions.

This week, the oddsmakers have tossed out 275.5 as a winning score prop (8.5 under), so they expect things to be tough, despite what the last two years have shown. Two years ago the event was played at a later date and last year it was played in very soft conditions.

So, who should take to the course if it returns to tough conditions?

Here are the top performers in adjusted strokes gained per round when playing hard courses, over the last two years:

Matt Fitzpatrick
Keegan Bradley
Jordan Spieth
Justin Thomas
Davis Riley
Ben Griffin
Adam Hadwin
Webb Simpson
Denny McCarthy
Tommy Fleetwood
Justin Rose
Sam Burns
Ben Taylor
Adam Schenk
Joel Dahmen

We can also look at performance versus baseline to see who shows the largest increase in performance compared to their typical scores:

Ben Taylor
Erik Barnes
Davis Riley
Paul Haley II
Ben Griffin
Adam Schenk
Keegan Bradley
Kyle Westmoreland
David Lipsky
Luke Donald
Webb Simpson
Joel Dahmen
Stephan Jaeger
Matt Fitzpatrick
Adam Hadwin

Overlap List: names that show up on both lists include Matt Fitzpatrick, Keegan Bradley, Davis Riley, Ben Griffin, Adam Hadwin, Webb Simpson, Ben Taylor, Adam Schenk, and Joel Dahmen.

This gives us a large list to dig into, some classified as favorites while also having some longer shots mixed in, as well.

Ben Griffin gearing up for his big breakout

The PGA TOUR rookie might have the most positive attitude of anyone out on TOUR. It helps when you are playing steady golf, which Griffin certainly is. He’s posted inside of the top 15 thru 36 holes in seven of his last 13 starts. He’s turned just three of those into actual top 15s but might be picking up the valuable experience required to take the next step of contending. As you can see from the lists above, the tougher the better for Griffin, so grab a few shares this week at Innisbrook.

Riley eyeing revenge at the Valspar

The talented youngster had never entered the final round of a PGA TOUR event inside of the top 10 until last year’s Valspar. He was thrown right into the fire, as he slept on a 54-hole lead and eventually finished second to Sam Burns (in a playoff). He’s pulled off that feat (being inside of the top 10 ahead of a final round) six more times since last year’s Valspar. A recent caddie change has sparked his form again just in time for him to get a second chance at the Copperhead Course. Consider Riley a high-upside option who could be on the verge of finally landing his maiden win.