Valspar Championship: Side with course-horse Streelman

Kevin Streelman can shine again at Innisbrook
Kevin Streelman can shine again at Innisbrook

Dave Tindall brings us his analysis and tips for this week's PGA Tour event in Florida - the Valspar Championship...

"The last four winners of the Valspar had all previously recorded a top 10 there. One of that quartet is Kevin Streelman and he looks a very backable 55/1 shot to shine again at the Florida venue."

Main bet: Back Kevin Streelman @ 56.055/1

Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 5 places

Main bet: Back Kevin Streelman e/w @ 55/1

There's plenty of evidence to suggest that the Copperhead course at Innisbrook is one where previous success counts for plenty.

Jordan Spieth had finished T7 and T20 before winning last year while 2014 champion John Senden was a two-time runner-up. In fact, the last four winners of the Valspar had all previously recorded a top 10 there.

One of that quartet is Kevin Streelman and he looks a very backable 55/1 shot to shine again at the Florida venue.

Streelman recovered from an opening 73 to take the title in 2013, the year after posting all four rounds in the 60s to finish T10.He was right in the hunt again last year after shooting 68-69 to lie second at halfway but faded on the weekend.

"Suits my eye really well off the tee," said the American last year. "You hit everything from 4-iron to driver off the tees, shape them both directions.

"You have par 5s you can go for and some you lay back. You've got par 3s. You have to be so exact where you leave it. There's no let-up out there but it's very fair at the same time.

"You got to step up and hit a golf shot. You got to step up on 16 and hit a great drive. There's little room to bail. You got to man up and hit golf shots out there.

"It's just controlling your golf ball. It's why 10-under here is always a really good golf score."

That's very true, with -10, -7 and -10 the winning scores in the last three editions.

We know Streelman loves the course so what of his current form? Well, everything looks good there too.

In just four starts on the PGA Tour this year, he's posted three top 20s. That includes a third place in the blustery Farmers Insurance Open and T17 at Pebble Beach.

At the latter, he was 10th for Driving Accuracy and 1st for Greens In Regulation. Adding some detail, he's been in the top five for GIR in each of his three tops 20s in 2016.

Since his win at this course in 2013, Streelman has added another title at the 2014 Travelers Championship so he's no one-hit wonder. The 37-year-old looks to have more victories in him and this looks a good opportunity at a good price.

Next best: Back Harris English e/w @ 33/1

I can't pretend I'm getting any sort of amazing value on Harris English at 33/1 but he's the one I like best of a bunch of players worth looking at around that price.

First things first, English ticks the box of having posted a previous top 10 at the course. Actually, he's done that in two of his last three starts at Innisbrook with a T7 in 2013 and a T10 last year thanks to a closing 65.

After that low one, English commented: "This golf course is tough. You got to do everything well."

Well, he certainly did everything pretty well last week when taking T10 in the WGC-Cadillac Championship and finishing 6th in the All-Around ranking.

That was his second top 10 in three starts, the first of those coming via an impressive third place in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Due to the amazing feats performed by Spieth, McIlroy, Day and Fowler, It might be easy to forget just what a fine player English is.

Sure, those four are setting the bar incredibly high but English has only missed one cut since May. And in that stretch of 22 tournaments, he's had nine top 25, seven of those coming in his last 12 starts.

This week's venue looks an ideal place for him to kick on and give his backers another each-way payout and hopefully the full jackpot.

In 2014 he said: "I've had some success here in the past. I love this golf course, very old school. That's what I love about Innisbrook and everything about this area."

English also won the Southern Amateur there and reflected: "I was staying with one of my buddies from high school, and we had a great week. I guess I just graduated from college. I remember shooting 66 in the last round to win.

"I've had some good memories from this golf course. It's treated me well."

Add it all up and he deserves to be a 33/1 shot so I'm prepared to play.

Recent CareerBuilder Challenge winner Jason Dufner has an ultra-solid record in this event, finishing between 10th and 28th in the last seven runnings, and, despite a third-round 77, finished T11 at Doral on Sunday.

Ryan Moore is another at 33/1 with obvious credentials; top five here last year and 10th in the Northern Trust last time out.

I also looked closely at Graeme McDowell but this is his debut and I prefer the course specialists even though it's a layout which should suit him.

As for Spieth, he just doesn't look quite right. I'm glad he's here as he makes the market but the 11/2 doesn't interest me after some mixed golf in his last three starts (17-MC-21).

Long-shot: Back John Senden e/w @ 125/1

At odds of 125/1, the presumption is that the Aussie may have some great course form here but his current form is so bad he deserves to be a bit of a rag this week.

Except, Senden returns to Innisbrook on the back of a top 10 in the Honda Classic!

I must say, that fine performance in his previous Florida start had rather passed me by but there it is in black and white... T10 thanks to rounds of 71-66-71-71.

That was his second straight top 10 in Florida (T8 in the 2015 Players Championship the first) and, in theory, sets him up perfectly for another crack at what must be just about his favourite tournament of the year.

Senden first shone here in 2007 when runner-up by a shot to Mark Calcavecchia and repeated the feat 12 months later, coming up two strokes behind Sean O'Hair (who lost a play-off last year).

He added a top 15 in 2011 and then two years ago it was the scene of his second PGA Tour title (and first since 2006) as he carded 64-70 on the weekend to secure a dramatic one-shot victory.

"I think you need to play pretty solid golf to do well around here because it's narrow in spots, the greens are smaller. You know, it's a very strategic golf course," he said.

"I think you see veteran players win around here because it's not totally a bomber's golf course. Doral probably is. This place is not. It's narrow. It's different. It's got sort of shorter golf holes than, say, Doral.

"Here you see more tree line. Even if you do lay it back a little bit here you can still score well."

"It's a great test of golf. I love coming here."

Like Streelman, Senden will be looking to win this tournament for the second time.

It's encouraging that in it short history (it was first played in 2000), the tournament has already produced a couple of two-time champions in KJ Choi and Retief Goosen.

Choi could be worth considering after a couple of top fives already this season although his last five efforts here read MC-44-21-46-MC which is enough to put me off.

I could just play Senden in the top 10 market but given that he has a win and two second places here let's go for it and have an each-way punt.

Dave's 2016 P/L (based on £5 e/w per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £260
Returned: £257
P/L: -£3

(After WGC-Cadillac Championship)

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