Starts: 17th March 2022
Course: Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead)
Par: 71 (36-35)
Length: 7,340 yards
2021 Champion: Sam Burns
Designer: Larry Packard
Used Since: 2000
Fairways: Narrow, Tree Lined
Greens: TifEagle Bermuda with Poa overseed (12 stimp)
Water Hazards: On 9 holes
Par 5's: 1st, 5th, 11th and 14th
Premium on: Strong approach play
Continue to exercise caution in relation to Covid-19 related withdrawals.
This event was not played in 2020 due to the pandemic.
This year the event returns to a March slot in the calendar (was played in late April last year).
Copperhead is traditionally one one of the harder courses on tour.
Sunny - 6mph wind
Partly Cloudy - 13mph wind.
Potential thunderstorm - 10mph wind.
Sunny - 10mph wind.
Sam Burns won with a total of -17 last year. In the 10 years prior, winning scores have ranged from -7 to -15 depending on the conditions.
Sam Burns had two solid finishes (30th and 12th) here prior to winning. Paul Casey defended his title in 2019 but he arrived in 2018 with a best finish of 37th in four starts. 2017 winner Hadwin and 2016 winner Schwartzel only had one start here prior to winning and both had missed the cut. Preferred but not essential.
Sam Burns had missed the cut in three of his last four starts prior to winning. Casey arrived on the back of a missed cut in 2019 but was in good form before that. In 2018, he had three top 15's in his previous four starts. The previous five winners have had a 12th place finish or better in their last three starts, so we want to see some sign of form.
The world ranking of the past six champions has been 91-15-17-99-32-10. Winners are generally inside the top 100 and we're looking for quality players to prevail.
Non-Americans have a great record in recent years. Jordan Spieth and Sam Burns are the only American winners since 2013. Winners have been from England, Canada, Australia and South Africa.
The 3M Open is worth considering as a correlating course. Past Valspar champions with Top 12 finishes at 3M include Hadwin (twice), Schwartzel (twice), Burns and Woodland. Louis Oosthuizen has a runner up finish in both events. Cam Tringale has a 3rd in both.
We have five years of Strokes Gained data to assess.
SG: Off The Tee
The last five winners have ranked 16-6-50-47-52. Surprisingly not a key stat for a narrow, long course.
The last five winners have ranked 19-11-17-37-30. In general, you don't need to be a bomber but you do need to be above average.
The last five winners have ranked 33-9-68-27-65. Accuracy off the tee isn't essential either.
The last five winners have ranked 14-7-7-2-3. Approach play is key.
SG: Around The Green
The last five winners have ranked 23-9-3-25-23. A tough test means a solid short game will be necessary here.
The last five winners have ranked 3-43-15-4-12. Not essential to putt the lights out but as always, its helps.
16-18 is known as 'The Snake Pit' where pars are a great score. 16 is a 475 yard par 4 and one of the toughest on tour. 17 is a tough par 3 and 18 is an uphill par 4.
The par 5's (1st, 5th, 11th and 14th) are the easiest and must be taken advantage of.
See above on 'Tough Holes'.
Fast or Slow Start
Since 2011, the winner has been at least 3 shots behind after round one with none in the top 5. However after round two, four of the last five winners have been 2nd or better. There have been two big Sunday comebacks in the last four years - Casey came from 5 behind in 2018 and Schwartzel came from 5 back in 2016. In general, comebacks are possible here.
Players We Almost Backed
NOTE - These are players who we shortlisted for this event but ultimately didn't advise to subscribers. If you want to find out who we did tip, you can subscribe using the link below.
Available on Wednesday.