Valspar Championship preview

John Senden of Australia defends the title at the Valspar Championship

John Senden defends Valspar Championship
John Senden defends Valspar Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The PGA Tour remains in Florida this week for the third leg of its “Florida Swing,” John Senden defends the title in the Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor.

Lowdown: The PGA Tour remains in Florida this week for the third leg of its “Florida Swing,” John Senden 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. Last year, Valspar (a global provider of paints and industrial coatings) took over as title sponsor in 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 2014, Australia’s John Senden won by a single stroke over Kevin Na of the USA

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.

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. Last year the field averaged 1.433 strokes over par.

Strong winds were a contributing factor to the difficulty last year, and they could play a part again this time out. Don’t expect the winning score here to be much better than the 10-under-par mark.

Venue: Innisbrook Resort – Copperhead, Palm Harbor, Florida Date: Mar 12-15 Course stats: par 71, 7,340 yards Purse: $5,900,000  Winner: $1,026,000 Defending Champion: John Senden (-7)

TV Coverage: Thursday 12 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm Friday 13 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm Saturday 14 – Sky Sports 4 from 5pm Sunday 15 – Sky Sports 4 from 5pm

Player Watch: Brandt Snedeker – He has a decent record in this tournament and it’s the type of testing track that should suit his game. It’s less than a month since he won at Pebble Beach

Ryan Moore – Playing well right now, he was tied ninth in the Cadillac but would have been a lot better if not for a poor last round. He’s finished in the top-25 in his last three events.

Kevin Na – Also tied ninth at Doral, Na was runner-up in this event last year.

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.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?