After many of the European Tour’s leading lights were drawn to the WGC Cadillac Championship in Florida, a decent scattering of those players have remained in the Sunshine State to join the likes of Jordan Spieth lining up for the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship.
Being world number one and the defending champion to boot, Spieth resumes his natural position at the head of the betting at 5/1, albeit neither of these accolades warrant backing him at such a profit-blocking price.
As mentioned in these pages last week some elements of Spieth’s usually majestic game (namely his putting), are out of kilter for whatever reason, highlighted by three closing rounds in excess of 70 leading into the Valspar.
Even at Florida’s Copperhead layout, where the Texan ranked T1 for fewest putts over four rounds en-route to victory a year ago, a current form reel reading 21-CUT-17, should be sufficient to warn punters off.
Adam Scott is the hottest golfer on the planet right now after back-to-back wins, but the Australian resists the temptation to go for a hat-trick, instead favouring an altogether more sensible approach of resting with the Masters around the corner.
In Scott’s absence, one of the aforementioned front runners of Europe’s main Tour is more than worthy of attention.
Danny Willett put himself on the map last year thanks to some standout performances in majors and the 20/1-third favourite now leads the Race to Dubai rankings after the WGC Cadillac.
His tie for third at Doral last week, just one shot shy of Scott, was his eighth top five posting worldwide in 10 months, including two wins.
He led the field in strokes-gained putting at the Cadillac, a stat that proved vital in victory for Spieth at the Valspar last year, and it’s only Willett’s inexperience of the tough test Copperhead provides that elects a more viable candidate still.
That man is Matt Kuchar at 33s. The player affectionately known as Kooch finished a very respectable 28th at Doral and has four top-15s in five starts before that.
Crucially he not only features in the top 20 for strokes-gained putting on the PGA Tour (ranking highly in this aspect was vital to Sunday leaderboard presence a year ago) he is also the only one towards the sharp end of the betting inside that perimeter on Par 5 scoring.
Given Copperhead features a quartet of par 5s it pays to take advantage, and given his recent good form Kuchar could well be poised to better a personal best finish of tenth on this Florida track.
Meanwhile, at 3/1 to make the top 10 of the European Tour’s True Thailand Classic, running parallel to the Valspar, last year’s joint-runner up Scott Hend looks a healthy pick.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.