The 2015 Valspar Championship boasts a star-studded field featuring top-10 players Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth, and they'll all be heavily tested on the demanding Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida.
One of the PGA Tour's most challenging venues, the Copperhead's 7,300-plus yards of tree-line fairways, jagged doglegs, water hazards and well-placed bunkers is as difficult as it is breathtaking. While big-hitters may appear to have an advantage on the lengthy track, accuracy is absolutely critical for success.
John Senden, the tournament's 2014 champion, had this to say about playing on the course during a press conference, via Rodney Page of the Tampa Bay Times:
The veteran players tend to win out here because it's not a bomber's golf course. This place is narrow and has shorter holes. If you're smart around here, you can do really well. But if you want to tear it apart by bombing it, it's much more narrow than a place like Doral. All you can see here is the tree line. If you lay back here you can score well.
As we await the field of 144 players to navigate Palm Harbor's vaunted track, let's take a look at the tournament's essential viewing information, prize money and some notable Thursday tee times.
2015 Valspar Championship
Dates: Thursday, March 12 - Sunday, March 15
Where: Innisbrook Resport (Copperhead Course) in Palm Harbor, Florida
Purse: $5.9 million (winning share: $1.062 million)
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to winner
- Thursday and Friday: 3-6 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
- Saturday and Sunday: 3-6 p.m. ET, NBC
Notable Thursday Tee Times
|2015 Valspar Championship: Notable Thursday Tee Times|
|Golfer||Tee Time (ET)|
|Adam Scott||8:15 a.m.|
|Jordan Spieth||8:15 a.m.|
|Ryan Moore||8:25 a.m.|
|Kevin Na||8:25 a.m.|
|Patrick Reed||8:25 a.m.|
|Henrik Stenson||8:25 a.m.|
|Brandt Snedeker||1 p.m.|
|Justin Rose||1 p.m.|
|Matt Kuchar||1 p.m.|
|John Senden||1 p.m.|
|Luke Donald||1:10 p.m.|
Tee times can be viewed at PGATour.com.
Stars to Watch
This will mark Stenson's first appearance at the Valspar Championship, but the Swede is the world's highest-ranked golfer at the event, and he his strong ball-striking will make him one of the players to beat in Palm Harbor.
Stenson's 2015 campaign began with a bit of a hiccup, as he missed the cut in Abu Dhabi; however, he quickly righted the ship, finishing tied for 13th in both the Qatar Masters and Dubai Desert Classic before producing a top-five showing in the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Needless to say, he's riding plenty of momentum entering the Valspar Championship.
The Golf Channel's Rex Hoggard tweeted the interesting way Stenson got himself acquainted with Copperhead:
Furyk takes a lot of flak for his inability to close out tournaments—he enters the week ranked tied for 174th on tour with a 72.00 final-round scoring average. However, the veteran is still a player to keep a keen eye on this week, as his phenomenal accuracy and experience—he won at Copperhead in 2010 in the Transitions Championship—sets him up for success.
Off to a flying start in 2015, Furyk has finished no lower than tied for 14th in his three tournaments and is coming off a nice run in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, finishing tied for 12th. Furyk hasn't won since 2010, but he's notched an improbable seven runner-up finishes since then. He'll break through his final-round woes one of these days.
Scott finished tied for fourth in the WGC-Cadillac Championship despite a disappointing 75 in the third round. One of golf's most consistent players, Scott hasn't finished outside of the top five in any of his previous four starts.
Very accurate off the tee, Scott is able to replicate his silky-smooth swing to remain the the fairway—a trait that will serve him very well at Copperhead. Golf Digest tweeted a great visual breakdown of Scott's tee ball:
If a younger player has a chance to win at Palm Harbor, it may be Spieth. Aside from a missed cut in the Farmers Insurance Open, the 21-year-old phenom recorded three top-10 finishes and is coming off a tie for 17th in the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
Spieth hasn't been overly accurate off the tee this season, ranking 135th in that category; however, he makes up for it with a great flat stick. A fantastic putter, Spieth ranks third on tour in putts per round, averaging just 27.68. Surely, a great short game helps that average. Here's a recent example, via PGA Tour:
Will another wily veteran claim the Valspar Championship title once again, or will a younger player rise to the occasion? We'll know the answer to that question after what promises to be a compelling 72 holes in Palm Harbor.