The PGA Tour returns to Innisbrook Golf Resort’s Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Fla., for this week’s Valspar Championship. Paul Casey is the two-time defending champion and will look to hold off a strong field fronted by Dustin Johnson and tournament favorite Justin Thomas. Instead of “simply” betting these favorites to win outright, we’ll look to maximize our profit with our top 2021 Valspar Championship prop bet picks.
Casey won this event in 2018 and 2019 at 10- and 8-under par, respectively. The 2020 tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so Casey has had to wait more than a full year to attempt to win this event for a record third time. He returns at No. 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) and with the fifth- or sixth-best odds to win at the top sportsbooks.
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Top USA Player (Dustin Johnson +750, Patrick Reed +1100 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
Thomas is the tournament favorite at +900 and has the lowest odds in this prop at +600. However, there’s value in fading the world No. 2 in favor of the top-ranked golfer in the OWGR.
This prop is also an excellent way to get some safer action on DJ; his outright odds sit at +1100, so you lose only a relatively small portion of the profit margin by ruling out four of the top-nine favorites who hail from outside the USA.
Meanwhile, Reed, the third-best player in attendance by the OWGR, shares the third-best odds to win outright at +2100 but still offers better than a 10-1 payout to be the top American. I like the value on Captain America, who tied with Tiger Woods for the runner-up spot behind Casey in 2018. This prop still leaves the door open for Corey Conners (+2100), Casey (+2100), Viktor Hovland (+2100), or Tyrrell Hatton (+2700) to win.
Will Justin Thomas Make the Cut? (Yes -590, No +350 at DraftKings Sportbook)
I’m going to go even further in fading the tournament’s outright favorite by betting on Thomas to miss the cut with a $10 bet returning a profit of $35 at the 3.5-1 odds if he doesn’t make it to the weekend. Thomas has two missed cuts through eight international events to open the year to go with his win at the Players Championship.
One reason to fade Thomas is that he ranks 128th on Tour in driving accuracy — though that’s a flawed stat in many ways, it matters more at the tight, 7,340-yard Copperhead Course than at most venues. The world No. 2 also hasn’t played this event since a missed cut in 2017. Back then, he lost 1.36 strokes per round with the putter on the Bermuda grass greens, according to Data Golf.
Chris Kirk to Finish in the Top 10 (+550 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
Kirk enters the week at No. 62 in the OWGR after finishing the 2020 calendar year at No. 265. He already has four top-10 finishes against just one missed cut through nine events in 2021, including a T-2 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He ranks a modest 59th in driving accuracy, but he ranks 23rd in scrambling and is well-equipped to escape the trouble posed by the tight tree lines. The four-time PGA Tour champ has a poor history in this event, with two missed cuts in his last three appearances, but he has been playing some of his best golf since his last win in 2015.
Will There Be a Playoff? (Yes +350, No -500 at BetMGM Sportsbook)
There have been three playoffs in the last eight runnings of this event, with four other events ending by single-stroke margins of victory. Additionally, only one of the last seven winners finished better than 10-under par. The modified 2020-21 PGA Tour “Super Season” is also bringing one of the strongest fields to Copperhead this event has seen in that time. As such, considering betting on the “Snake Pit” — one of the best-known finishing stretches in all of golf — to create another dramatic ending this Sunday.
Leader After Round 1 (Patrick Reed +3300 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
We circle back to Reed, this time for a higher payout than his odds to win outright. He ranks second on Tour and first in this field, with a Round 1 scoring average of 68.40. He also shared the 18-hole lead en route to winning the Farmers Insurance Open in January after opening with an 8-under par round of 64. DraftKings is offering nearly double the odds for Reed to lead after 18 holes than to win the event (+1800), while FanDuel has him at +2100 to win and just +2900 to hold the Round 1 lead.
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