Dates: March 17, 2022 to March 20, 2022
Location: Florida, USA
Course: Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club
Course Par: 71
Course Length: 7,340 yards
Prize Purse: $7800000
Valspar Championship: Sam Burns defends title as Alex Fitzpatrick makes debut
With the dust barely settled on the Players Championship, the PGA Tour makes its way to the Innisbrook Resort this week for the Valspar Championship.
Sam Burns humbled the demanding Copperhead Course last year to win by three strokes from Keegan Bradley, with the American pair setting a joint 36-hole course record as they battled it out for top spot in Florida.
Burns was just one shot off the best 72-hole total at the venue in a PGA Tour event, set by Vijay Singh in 2004, and became the second youngest winner after Jordan Spieth in 2015.
This year’s champion will take home a tidy $1.4m from a total $7.8m prize pot, with 144 players currently entered in the field and the weather set to be vastly improved following chaotic scenes at the Players.
The player who pockets that cheque will have to tame the notorious ‘Snake Pit’ stretch, which is made up by the 16th, 17th and 18th holes and should keep thing interesting come Sunday evening.
In total, the Larry Packard design covers some 7,340 yards and includes five par-three and four par-five holes.
Paul Casey, who performed at TPC Sawgrass, won back-to-back Valspar titles in 2018 and 2019, but has not entered this week’s event, though the field does include a host of stellar names including Dustin Johnson, a debut for Collin Morikawa and the in-form Viktor Hovland.
One man keeping a keen eye on 24-year-old Norwegian Hovland’s sensational progress will be Henrik Stenson, who was named European Ryder Cup captain this week and is also in action just outside Tampa Bay – Hovland will no doubt be a key component for his team in Rome next year.
Talking of European hopefuls, it will be a memorable weekend for the Fitzpatrick family, with amateur Alex set to make his PGA Tour debut as he joins older brother Matt in the field for the first time at the Valspar.
The Yorkshire pair are enjoying a throwback to their days as youth golfers, playing a practice round together on Tuesday.
“It used to be him telling me what to do and what club to use, but I’ve matured and he’s realised I am capable of making my own way, so now it is more of a guiding thing,” said Alex about his brother.
“If I ever need help or a call, whether that is golf or in life, he is always there, which is nice.”
Matt is confident his brother, four years his junior, can carve out a professional career.
“It’s exciting for him,” said the 27-year-old. “I just hope he plays well. I know he is capable and hopefully he can show that.
“Once he got to college and started playing well and rising up the World Amateur Golf Ranking, I think that’s when I thought it could happen.
“Obviously I played with him a lot when he was younger and he always had this special talent.
“That was the big thing for me. He could go really low when he was younger and that was a sign in itself.”
Alex is currently a college senior at Wake Forest and earned his spot in this week’s event by winning the Valspar Collegiate at The Floridian last year.
“It was kind of a nerve-wracking final 18 holes,” he said about that win. “But I played nice golf and I managed to get it done. Now I’m here, and I couldn’t be happier.
“I felt like if I gave myself another year, my golf game could progress and mature a little bit and felt like I’m more ready now than I would have been last year, which is nice.”