The PGA Tour remains in Florida this week for the third leg of its “Florida Swing,” Kevin Streelman defends the title in the Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor.
This tournament began life in 2000 as the Tampa Bay Classic. It’s also been known as the Chrysler Championship, the PODS Championship, the Transitions Championship and the Tampa Bay Championship. This year, Valspar (a global provider of paints and industrial coatings) has taken over as title sponsor in the first year of a four-year agreement.
Over the seasons, the event has seen some notable champions: K.J. Choi, Retief Goosen, Mark Calcavecchia and Luke Donald have all won here. In 2013, Kevin Streelman picked up his first PGA Tour title with a two shot victory over a charging Boo Weekley.
Designed by Larry Packard and opened in 1974, the Copperhead course at Innisbrook has played host to a number of PGA Tour events over the years. In 1999 the layout was revamped to bring it in line with the modern game. The redesign was completed just in time for the 1999 JCPenney Classic, an event won by John Daly and Laura Davies.
Larry Packard died this January at the age of 101 and he will be remembered at this week’s tournament.
Unusually for a West Coast Florida course, the track features some fairly significant changes in elevation – up to 80 feet. It has traditionally been one of the tougher courses visited by the PGA Tour. In fact, last season it was the toughest par 71 layout visited by the circuit, outside of the Majors.
Wind and rain may add to the difficulty this week, especially over the first couple of days.
Venue: Innisbrook Resort – Copperhead, Palm Harbor, Florida
Date: Mar 13-16
Course stats: par 71, 7,340 yards
Purse: $5,700,000 Winner: $1,026,000
Defending Champion: Kevin Streelman (-10)
Thursday 13 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm
Friday 14 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm
Saturday 15 – Sky Sports 4 from 5pm
Sunday 16 – Sky Sports 4 from 5pm
Matt Kuchar – One of the PGA Tour’s most consistent players, Kuchar shared the halfway lead in last week’s Cadillac Championship before fading on the weekend. He’s been in the top 15 on each of his last three visits to Innisbrook.
Gary Woodland – The winner here in 2011, Woodland has shown signs of a return to his best form. He was tied 16th last week.
Jason Dufner – He’ll bounce back strongly from a difficult final round at Doral. He looks to be swinging well and has a fine record at Innisbrook with five straight top-30 finishes.
Key Hole: 16th. This 460 yard par-4 has ranked as the toughest hole on the course in each of the tournaments since 2010. Water is a factor all down the right hand side.
Skills required: It’s not long driving that tends to win the day at Innisbrook. Far more important is scrambling and putting, see Luke Donald’s win in 2012.
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