Outsider Troy Merritt is one of five recommended bets in the Valspar Championship.
Copperhead is the host once again for the Valspar in what is generally a friendly tournament from a betting perspective. A tougher, tree lined track is always welcome from my point of view as plenty can be ruled out due to the difficulty of the course. A couple of years back I backed Spieth here at a tasty 20/1 but unfortunately such odds aren't on offer this week. Golden Child has kicked on to become the world's best and turns up here amidst some doubt about his current form. The putter has deserted him since his early win this season and he has been left searching in the dark for a putt that he can down. Last week there were the odd sign that his touch was returning and for me he is worthy of his 11/2 quotation. The course suits the more strategic golfer and although Spieth is not the straightest out there on tour he finds his way out of trouble more often than not and his ability to rescue any potential damage with the flat stick is usually the key. As I say, I saw a shade better confidence in the stroke last week and I wouldn't be surprised should he kick on this week and start to hit form. The 11/2 is about right though and I don't think there's enough reward in it, especially considering some disappointing weeks lately.
We'll be looking for the straight hitters, or those who perform on the more strategic layouts. We'll start with what will no doubt be one of our strongest bets at three figure odds this season. I've been waiting for this tournament to come around for Troy Merritt
and although the big odds off 300/1 didn't last, and the 200/1 went quickly also we'll still be having a very solid each-way bet. He won the Quicken Loans last year with a neat and tidy game around a narrow track that needed precision with the long game. A runner-up at the St Jude and a 3rd placed finish at Harbour Town once again backs up the thinking that Merritt enjoys these tests a lot more than some of the target golf we see on tour. He finished 11th a few weeks back at the difficult Riviera and finished 6th here at this venue last year. Everything points towards a decent showing from Troy and as he showed in Virginia last year he can close out an event if asked.
Troy Merritt - 1.75pts e/w @ 150/1Lost -3.5pts
Another who thrives on these kind of layouts is Graeme McDowell
. A win at Harbour Town, Pebble Beach and numerous placers at tight, seaside venues make this an ideal fit for the Portrush native. He has been talking up his game lately and would have finished a lot higher up the order last week at Doral without his disastrous 72nd hole. McDowell is on a mission to climb the rankings and make this years Ryder Cup Team and I for once think he will do that successfully. His credentials are obvious for all to see this week and 40/1 is more than tempting for us to get involved.
Graeme McDowell - 1.25pts e/w @ 40/1Lost -2.5pts
A top 5 is noted for Fredrik Jacobson
in last years RSM won by Kevin Kisner and two top 5's on the trot this year at the Farmers and Pebble Beach is enough evidence to show us he is in decent enough form to make a challenge here this week. He is another suited to tighter layouts and I do think he'll fancy scoring well around Copperhead. He doesn't have the best win ratio on tour and will be chasing his first win since the 2011 Travelers but I do feel he is worthy of investment at a top price of 70/1. He has shown down the years he can cope with some dodgy weather also which we might endure this week. Given his current form the price is certainly of interest.
Fedrik Jacobson - 0.75pts e/w @ 70/1Lost -1.5pts
At 150/1 I will have a few pennies on Patrick Rodgers
. He finished runner up at last years Wells Fargo which is considered more a strategic golf course. I normally take everything from twitter with a pinch of salt but I was impressed by his timing of working on a 'stinger' shot at the range. He posted a video of him perfecting this shot and it should come in very handy this week. The wind will blow and weather may be troublesome so a low bullet like shot underneath the wind will certainly help. I have little other evidence other than that I admit, but it's maybe worth taking the chance that he plays well.
Patrick Rodgers - 0.5pts e/w @ 150/1Lost -1pts
Our final stab, and it is that, will be on Kevin Chappell
. He posted a decent performance a few weeks back at Riviera and I wouldn't be surprised to see him further up the leaderboard during this weekend. He ran Kevin Kisner close in last years RSM and his other runner up finish was at the Memorial. Two top tens at the US Open and another at Pebble Beach definitely indicate Kevin likes the more strategic courses. Still to gain his maiden victory it is highly unlikely that this will be the week, I worry if he'll ever land it to be fair. However, I am going to take the chance that Copperhead gets his juices flowing and he can contend over the weekend. Risky bet, especially considering he has missed the cut here 3 times, but we'll have a go anyhow.
Kevin Chappell - 0.5pts e/w @ 125/1Lost -1pts