Valspar Championship picks to win: A professional gambler risks his money on these bets

Paul Casey

Paul Casey hits a shot during the RBC Heritage earlier this month.

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Who does the journalist, betting analyst or data guru like? Or the caddie? Or the old-school gambler? Gimme the facts, storylines and trends. Gimme that inside-the-ropes look. Gimme your gut feeling. 

You bet, bettor. 

Welcome to GOLF.com’s new gambling advice column, where we’ve assembled a panel of those aforementioned experts to make three “best bets.” A real-life professional bettor here will then heed that advice, add his acumen and wager his own cash. It’s not unlike what you do through texts and Google searches — except now it’s all in one place. 

Our hope is to help you with your own weekly picks, whether those are for a low-stakes office fantasy league, (legal!) big-bucks bets with a sportsbook or through free-to-play Chirp Golf, an app from our parent company that is available in the App Store and at Google Play

Now, on to some facts, the expert picks, the bettor’s best bets and info on how to bet for free. 

The facts 

This week’s tournament: Valspar Championship, at Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead), Palm Harbor, Fla.

TV: Thursday, 2-6 p.m., Golf Channel; Friday, 2-6 p.m., Golf Channel; Saturday, 1-3 p.m., Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m., NBC; Sunday, 1-3 p.m., Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m., NBC; 

Weather (weather.com): Thursday, partly cloudy, 86 degrees, 11 mph S wind; Friday, partly cloudy, 84 degrees, 14 mph SSW wind; Saturday, AM showers, 77 degrees, 9 mph NW wind; Sunday, partly cloudy, 82 degrees, 8 mph NE wind 

Defending champion: Paul Casey, 2019 and 2018 (2020 event was canceled.)  

Top 10 in odds (via DraftKings): Justin Thomas, +1,000; Dustin Johnson, +1,100; Corey Conners, +1,800; Patrick Reed, +1,800; Paul Casey, +2,200; Viktor Hovland, +2,200; Tyrrell Hatton, +2,500; Sungjae Im, +2,800; Abraham Ancer, +3,000; Russell Henley, +3,000; Scottie Scheffler, +3,000

Expert picks

The sportsbook at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.
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Nick Piastowski, GOLF.com, @nickpia

Bet 1: Paul Casey, top 20, +110. This seems like a sure thing for the two-time defending champ. 

Bet 2: Corey Conners, to-win, +1,800. Red hot. He’s near the top of the odds list and the value is low, but I think the public is onto something here. 

Bet 3: Lanto Griffin, top 10, +650. Outside of the Masters, has been steady all season, and this looks like a good course fit. 

Jessica Marksbury, GOLF.com, @Jess_Marksbury

Bet 1: Paul Casey, top 20, +110. Casey’s play has cooled a bit since his two-month run of Top 10s leading up to the Players Championship, but the guy won here in 2018 and 2019! That has to mean a top 20 this week is pretty much inevitable.

Bet 2: Louis Oosthuizen, top South African, +120. With only four South Africans in the field this week, the competition doesn’t seem too stiff for Louis, who was T2 at this event in 2019, and was part of last week’s runner-up duo at the Zurich Classic. 

Bet 3: Sungjae Im, top 20, +120. Two missed cuts in his past three events doesn’t bode too well for Im, but I’m banking on his good record of play in Florida. (He was T21 or better at the API, Players and Honda this year.) Here’s hoping that trend continues this week!

Brady Kannon, host, Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN), @lasvegasgolfer

Bet 1: Joaquin Niemann, top 10, +320. Niemann has always been an elite ball-striker, which for me, is a good fit at this golf course. Putting is also a key stat at this course — more so than many of the other Tour stops — and Niemann has greatly improved his putting this season. I think he’s good for a Top 10, if not a win, on a course that should very much suit his game.

Bet 2: Emiliano Grillo, top 20, +190. Very similar in style to Niemann as an excellent ball-striker, but in Grillo’s case, the putter has always been a weakness. Bermuda grass is his best surface, though, and he seems to flourish in Florida. His form has been excellent as of late, and he should be able to sneak into the top 20, if not even higher up the board.

Bet 3: Lucas Glover, top 20, +260. The theme continues here with ball-strikers who putt better traditionally on Bermuda grass. Glover hails from the South and went to college at Clemson, so he’s very much at home in these parts. Recently, he was 19th at the Honda and fourth at the Valero. He’s played this course quite a bit and has one top-10 finish along with five top 25s. Given his current form, I think he finishes higher this time around.

Wes Reynolds, host, Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN), @WesReynolds1

Bet 1: Sungjae Im, to-win, +2,800. Sungjae gets one more crack in Florida. He was fourth here in 2019 in his debut and continued his top play in the Sunshine State with a victory at PGA National and a third the following week at Bay Hill. Yes, Augusta was a disaster, but he’s back on Bermuda grass, and he is sixt in this week’s field for SG: Short Game (SG: Putting + SG: Around the Green).

Bet 2: Justin Rose, to-win, +3,500. I am buying in on Rose showing some return to form. He was the 18 and 36-hole leader at Augusta before the putter cooled a bit on the weekend on his way to finishing seventh. Rose is back with Sean Foley, and the reunion has seemed to revitalize his game. Copperhead is a difficult course, and these are the types of tracks where Rose can still contend and even win when the scoring is a bit higher.

Bet 3: Danny Willett, top 10, +1,400. Willett has two top 10 finishes in his past five starts, including last week while partnering with Tyrrell Hatton in New Orleans. In two career starts here, he has gained 9.8 strokes tee-to-green, but has lost 3.4 on the greens. Putting has been the strength of his game lately so that likely has positive regression here, and the Englishman has always had solid ball-striking on this tight layout. 

Ryan Palmer hits out of the sand during last year's Charles Schwab Challenge.
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Martin de Knijff, Metric Gaming, @mdkentrepreneur 

Bet 1: Dustin Johnson, to-win, +1,150. DJ putted awfully at Augusta, couldn’t figure out (perhaps unsurprisingly) the speed of the greens and missed the cut. Last year in mid/late July, he had some poor performances (small injuries, too), but came out firing with an incredible month of August — if there’s anyone who can turn it on in a heartbeat, it’s DJ, and you’re getting a decent price here.  

Bet 2: Justin Rose, to-win, +3,000. Played very little before the Masters due to injury, but still showed enough to see he’s on the right track. The Englishman was surprisingly poor tee-to-green in 2020, but equipment, swing coach changes, etc., were contributing factors. Rose is “only” No. 14 in the European Ryder Cup standings, and that’s a big motivating factor.

Bet 3: Keegan Bradley, to-win, +6,000. Keegan is playing a lot better of late, and he’s always been a strong iron player. Has been very solid this season tee-to-green, and for a proven winner on the PGA Tour, this is a very compelling price and circumstance.

John Rathouz, PGA Tour caddie and Caddie Network contributor, @rathouz

Bet 1: Jamie Lovemark, top 10, +3,300. Been at it for a long time now and has a solid record at Innisbrook. In five trips, he’s improved each time out, going MC, 44th, 37th, 27th and 16th. You do the math. Making cuts recently, and I like it especially after finishing T2 two weeks ago on the KFT.

Bet 2: Denny McCarthy, +650, Top 10. Very solid on the East Coast and finished 9th at Innisbrook previously. Striking it better than ever, and his high ball flight will help navigate the many greenside bunkers. Known great putter.

Bet 3: Justin Rose, top 30, +100. At Innisbrook, he’s made 8 of 9 cuts and recorded seven top 25s and three T10s, and he had the lead at the Masters three weeks ago. He’s been getting back into form this year with new caddie David Clark, who should offer fresh perspective and focus on a familiar course.

The “old-school” gambler, an “old-school” gambler, @notthefakeW 

Bet 1: Scottie Scheffler, top 5, +550. How has this guy not won yet? How did I get so fat? Two questions to which I have no answers. Bank this one.

Bet 2: Patrick Reed, to-win +1,800. I’ve just got a feeling about this one. Though maybe it’s just the bratwurst I inhaled.

Bet 3: Kevin Streelman over Lucas Glover, -120. A strong history here for Streelman — strong enough, anway, for him to beat one guy.

The pro bettor’s best bets 

Erick Lindgren. Lindgren, the 2008 World Series of Poker Player of the Year,  has won more than $10.5 million in poker tournament earnings and is an avid sports bettor. @EdogPoker

Bet 1: Jason Kokrak, to-win, +3,500. The big guy has learned to putt. That makes him dangerous. Very dangerous.

Bet 2: Emiliano Grillo, top 10, +450. The youngster is fully dialed in right now.

Bet 3: Peter Uhlein, top 10, +1,100. We need long irons here, and he’s our guy.

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor