Keep leaning on strong iron play at Valspar Championship
4 Min Read
Written by Brady Kannon @lasvegasgolfer
We expected that scoring would be difficult at the Copperhead Course, but it seems the windy conditions were not as impactful on Friday as the forecast originally suggested. The gusts of up to and over 20 MPH were few and far between and the cut line landed at 1 over par. Of the players that made the cut, 40 shot under par on Friday. Cody Gribble had the low round of the day, firing a 6-under 65.
Adam Schenk is your leader at 7 under. Kramer Hickok was a very popular sleeper pick this week and he is currently solo second at six under. Gribble, Tommy Fleetwood, Jordan Spieth, and Davis Riley are tied for third at 5 under par. Thirteen more players sit at 3 and 4 under par, including Justin Thomas (-3), Alex Smalley (-3), Wyndham Clark (-4), and J.T. Poston (-4).
Updated odds to win Valspar Championship (via BetMGM Sportsbook)
+500: Jordan Spieth
+700: Tommy Fleetwood
+750: Adam Schenk
+900: Justin Thomas
+1000: Davis Riley, Kramer Hickok
+1600: Wyndham Clark
+2000: Stephan Jaeger
+2200: Taylor Moore
+3000: J.T. Poston
Going into this tournament, I felt that SG: Approach would be the very most important statistic of the week. The short game was going to have to be super sharp, scoring on the Par 5's would be a necessity, but ultimately I was backing ball strikers who could also get it done in the ancillary areas.
Schenk and Hickok have been getting it done with the putter so far. Schenk is third in this field through 36 holes in SG: Putting. Hickok ranks fifth. However, they are 32nd and 44th in SG: Approach respectively, and 54th and 38th in this field in Driving Accuracy.
Further down the leaderboard, one will find Wyndham Clark, who ranks 14th in this field for SG: Approach and 16th in Driving Accuracy. This tells me he is getting it done tee to green. Clark however, ranks 54th in SG: Putting and 30th in Scrambling - and this is a guy who has an excellent short game and is one of the best putters on TOUR.
A similar case is Taylor Moore, who also sits at 4 under. Moore is 19th in the field after two days for SG: Approach, second in Greens in Regulation, and 16th in Driving Accuracy. Another player who is typically excellent on and around the greens, Moore is currently 45th for SG: Around the Green and 29th in SG: Putting.
Draws: Wyndham Clark (+1600) & Taylor Moore (+2200)
I have pre-tournament tickets on both Clark and Moore to win this tournament outright, and I like where I am sitting with them after two days. Both players have excellent short games. Coming into the
Valspar, Clark ranked 64th on TOUR in SG: Around the Green and 69th in SG: Putting. Moore entered the week 41st on TOUR in SG: Putting and 17th in Scrambling.
I believe the short game, especially putting, is a more random skill, and is more likely to turn for the positive for both Clark and Moore after two days of performing below expectations. Combined with what they are already doing off the tee and on approach, I believe these two will very much remain in the Valspar conversation. They also don't carry the big, fancy names of "Spieth," "Thomas," or "Fleetwood," so it is likely we are getting a pretty good price based on Clark and Moore being more under the radar than three of the game’s big stars that are in the mix.
Fades: Adam Schenk (+750) & Kramer Hickok (+1000)
Hickok certainly looks like a very sharp long shot play at this point, but how long will it last? Both Schenk and Hickok have been shaky off the tee and on approach - and on fire on and around the greens. Again, with this area of the game being more fickle and possibly heading south for these two players over the weekend, I can't back them going forward. In order to hold on, the work off the tee is going to have to improve and the putters will have to remain red-hot. That is not something I want to bank on happening, especially at such short prices.
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