Expert Picks: 2015 Valspar Championship


This week marks the 18th event of the 2014-15 PGA Tour season, as the Tour remains in Florida for the Valspar Championship. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; editorial director Jay Coffin; associate editor Will Gray; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; host Charlie Rymer and defending fantasy champion Ryan Lavner.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Jim Furyk: Tough call here. Adam Scott was solid in his 2015 debut last week at Doral but didn’t hit enough fairways. Furyk, on the other hand, is a machine off the tee and has won at Innisbrook before (2010).

Group 2: Brandt Snedeker: His work with Butch Harmon is starting to pay off and the Copperhead course is perfect for Sned’s game.

Group 3: Scott Langley: He’s been playing well the last few weeks and he posted his best PGA Tour finish last season (third) at the Valspar Championship.

Group 4: Steve Wheatcroft: Consider this a karma deal. Within a span of 24 hours on Sunday Wheatcroft was in the field at Innisbrook, than he was out and, finally, he was back in.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Jim Furyk: This place suits Furyk, with his three top 10s over the last five years, including a victory. Seems like a place he could break that jinx of his with a 54-hole lead.

Group 2: Luke Donald: A promising showing at Honda two weeks ago, now a return to place he always plays well. Donald has been no worse than T-6 in his last four tries at Innisbrook, with a win in there.

Group 3: Will MacKenzie: That T-4 last year at Innisbrook looks like something to build on given MacKenzie is also coming off a T-6 in Puerto Rico.

Group 4: Rod Pampling: Banking that a couple top 10s this year portend something even better this week.

Will Gray

Group 1: Jim Furyk: Since his win here in 2010, Furyk hasn't finished outside the top 20. Three starts this season have led to three top-15 finishes, and Furyk shows no signs of slowing down after a stellar campaign last season.

Group 2: Luke Donald: The Englishman is nearly automatic at Innisbrook, having gone Win, T-4, T-4 the last three years. He's been slow out of the gates this year but his T-7 finish two weeks ago at PGA National is reason for hope.

Group 3: Will MacKenzie: He came close to a win at Sea Island earlier this summer, then after a brief layoff to nurse an injury returned to the leaderboards last week in Puerto Rico. MacKenzie finished T-4 here last year and currently ranks second on Tour in total strokes gained and third in GIR percentage.

Group 4: Will Wilcox: Wilcox hasn't played much this year, but he's made the most of his opportunities. Top-20 results in each of his last three starts, including a T-6 finish last week in Puerto Rico. Admittedly based on a small sample size, Wilcox actually leads the Tour in the ball-striking category this season.