The PGA Tour welcomes a very strong field to the location of the trickiest three-foot-putt territory on the rota, along with the "Snake Pit", while the phrase 'eye of a needle' may come to mind when the players tee off on certain holes. Yes, Copperhead and the Innisbrook Resort at Tampa is one of the more intriguing and scenic venues on the PGA Tour, and it continues an extremely tough Florida swing where the winds gust and all aspects of ones game are tested.
Course specialist John Senden finally got to grips with the short testing putts which are a massive fixture here at the Valspar Championship. In fact, not many, if any, courses on the regular tour have a bigger three putt rate from short range than Copperhead. I'll always remember Jason Dufner's - 61.00 - performance here a few years back when he missed more tiddlers than in my average 36 holes of golf. If you pardon the pun, Riviera and Memorial may give it a run for it's money.
This is a Jordan Spieth - 15.00 - type track where scrambling is paramount and the youngster is two for two in top 20s here. Only Adam Scott - 13.00 - trades ahead of him in the market, while the likes of Henrik Stenson - 16.00 - and Lee Westwood - 36.00 - make their debuts at the Tampa venue. Harris English is worth a glance on a course he rates as one of his favourites. Harris - 46.00 - won the Southern Amateur Championship here in 2011, shooting a Sunday 65 in the process.
The Course - Copperhead
Comprising five lengthy par threes, Copperhead comes in at 7,340 yards on the card to a par of 71; It tests all aspects of a players game. Par three performance is key and the surfaces are renowned as some of the most difficult to hole out on, with tricky, breaking short putts a prevalent theme. Scrambling from around the greens will prove vital to success this week on a pristine conditioned layout, while players will be put to the test threading and shaping shots through some of the tightest driving holes on tour into dog-legged and tree-lined fairways. The aforementioned "Snake Pit" is one of the toughest finishing stretches in golf. Wind may play a part as is the norm in the Florida swing.
Three from the pack
Kevin Na - 41.00 or 9.00 - has some consistent form in Florida and he's on the radar for both Copperhead and Bay Hill. Na was second here to John Senden in 2014 and went on to post a top 15 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He comes to Innisbrook off the back of a top 10 at Doral - a course you would not put down as a Kevin Na type course at all so his game looks to be peaking. Na ranks 24th in scrambling and finished 4th in that stat in 2014 as well as 16th in scoring average. He scrambled his way around Copperhead impressively when he needed to last year and seems to have the run of the tricky greens here.
John Senden - 81.00 or 17.00 - is somewhat of a course specialist around Copperhead. He'd posted a couple of runners-up finishes and featured on a number of recent leaderboards here before eventually lifting the trophy in 2014. Senden is renowned as a tee to green specialist (currently 28th in ball striking) but last year he had the flat stick working, ranking 13th in strokes gained putting. He's simmering at the moment with a couple of decent outings at Doral and Torrey Pines but Copperhead is his type of course and the Aussie's price looks a little bloated to me.
George McNeill - 101.00 or 19.00 - is another under the radar player with form in this part of the world. The Florida native comes here peaking off the back of a T11 at the Honda and his figures from the Florida swing in 2014 read a hugely impressive T6-T12-7(Valspar)-T14. McNeill is one of those players who does nothing badly, ranking 37th in the all round department in 2014. He has a runner up finish to his name too at Innisbrook in 2008 and comes in under the radar here.
I'm a little surprised at the price of Martin Flores - 251.0 or 41.00. This time last year he was a top 20 machine with his best performance coming with a T3 at the difficult Quail Hollow course. He's at it again with successive top 20s in the Honda and Puerto Rico and may be one to watch here at a big price.