Humans tend to take on nicknames of machines, not the other way around. Iron Byron was named after Byron Nelson – a real person, of course – but we can be led to think that golfers at the highest level aren’t human given what they do to impress us while scoring. Professional athletes also make adjustments better than the rest of us. This is the task for the 19 making the trip from the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship to this week’s Valspar Championship. Consider that all but the previously ill Henrik Stenson looped Club de Golf Chapultepec four times at its elevation of a mile and a half above sea level, but are now facing Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course in Florida where the highest point on natural land is just 345 feet! (It’s Britton Hill in the panhandle.) While they find the right feels to navigate it – and they will, of course – there’s comfort in the data to help determine what it’s taken to excel and prevail. TALES OF THE TAPE With five par 3s and four par 5s, Copperhead’s variety is one of the reasons it’s as fun to play as the touring professionals have documented. At the same time, precision on approach on all holes is just as vital, as is plodding along when necessary. Remember, Charl Schwartzel won in a playoff here last year after posting an aggregate of just 7-under 277. Golfers in this week’s field inside the top 10 in the following categories in last year’s Valspar Championship: PROXIMITY TO THE HOLE Rank, Golfer (Tournament Finish) 3 Ryan Moore (3rd) 4 Graham DeLaet (T5) T8 Kevin Na (T22) 10 Daniel Berger (T11) PAR-3 SCORING Rank Golfer (Tournament Finish) 1 Steve Stricker (T7) T2 Daniel Summerhays (T22) T4 Retief Goosen (T11) T4 Patrick Reed (T7) T7 George McNeill (T11) T7 Chez Reavie (T22) T7 Charl Schwartzel (Win) T7 Henrik Stenson (T11) T7 Steve Wheatcroft (T37) PAR-5 SCORING Rank Golfer (Tournament Finish) T1 Charl Schwartzel (Win) T1 Henrik Stenson (T11) T3 Graham DeLaet (T3) T3 Lee McCoy (T3) T5 Chris Kirk (T42) T5 Matt Kuchar (T11) T5 Willy Wilcox (T42) T9 Patton Kizzire (T33) T9 Brett Stegmaier (T18) T9 Steve Wheatcroft (T37) BOGEY AVOIDANCE Rank Golfer (Tournament Finish) T1 Charles Howell III (T5) T1 Ryan Moore (3rd) T1 Chez Reavie (T22) T4 Daniel Berger (T11) T4 Scott Brown (T7) T4 Bill Haas (P2) T4 Patrick Reed (T7) T9 Graham DeLaet (T5) T9 Luke Donald (T22) T9 Jason Dufner (T22) T9 Retief Goosen (T11) T9 Charley Hoffman (T11) T9 Steve Stricker (T7) Not dissimilar to PGA National, host of The Honda Classic, Copperhead doesn’t boast a stable of horses as much as it features veterans who simply follow instructions. Note how many aren’t long hitters even though the course can stretch to 7,340 yards. Other Signs of Comfort goes rather deep, both in its sample size and in time. This is done to represent the devotion even those who have struggled often have for this course and this tournament. Within it are many viable fantasy options also playing well upon arrival. HORSES FOR COURSES Selected golfers with multiple cuts made sorted by rank on the tournament’s money list. Rank, Player, Cuts Made/Starts, Top 10s, Best Finish 4. Luke Donald 8/8 4 Win 5. Jim Furyk 7/8 3 Win 10. Charles Howell III 10/13 4 T2 14. Kevin Na 9/12 3 2nd 18. Ryan Moore 6/10 3 3rd 22. Patrick Reed 2/3 2 P2 29. Matt Kuchar 8/9 2 T9 30. Steve Stricker 4/6 3 T4 36. Nick Watney 9/9 1 4th 40. Jason Dufner 8/9 1 T10 44. Graham DeLaet 3/4 2 T5 GETTING COMFY Sorted by best finish, selected golfers who are either finally finding form on the course or are still relatively new to the tournament but have enjoyed some success. Player Cuts Made/Starts Best Finish Charl Schwartzel 1/2 Win (2016) Bill Haas 5/8 P2 (2016) Lee McCoy 1/1 4th (2016) Henrik Stenson 2/2 4th (2015) Scott Brown 2/5 T7 (2016) Daniel Summerhays 4/5 T10 (2015) Justin Thomas 2/2 T10 (2015) OTHER SIGNS OF COMFORT Sorted by most recent top 10s, selected golfers for whom it’s been a few years since their last. Player, Cuts, Made/Starts, Top 10s, Last, Best Finish Sean O’Hair 5/12 3 2015 (P2) Win Troy Merritt 1/4 1 2015 (6th) 6th Jason Kokrak 2/6 1 2015 (T7) T7 Danny Lee 1/3 1 2015 (T7) T7 Vijay Singh 9/11 3 2015 (T10) Win Harris English 3/5 2 2015 (T10) T7 John Senden 8/13 3 2014 (Win) Win Robert Garrigus 5/8 2 2014 (T4) P2 George McNeill 7/10 2 2014 (7th) T2 Gary Woodland 4/6 2 2014 (T8) Win David Hearn 2/5 1 2014 (T8) T8 Matt Every 2/6 1 2014 (T8) T8 Kevin Streelman 5/7 2 2013 (Win) Win Boo Weekley 4/10 1 2013 (2nd) 2nd Cameron Tringale 4/6 1 2013 (3rd) 3rd Greg Chalmers 5/10 1 2013 (T4) T4 Shawn Stefani 3/3 1 2013 (T7) T7 Ken Duke 8/9 1 2012 (T5) T5 Ernie Els 3/7 2 2012 (T5) T5 Scott Piercy 1/4 1 2012 (T5) T5 Webb Simpson 4/7 2 2012 (T10) 2nd Martin Laird 4/6 1 2011 (T5) T5 Scott Stallings 1/6 1 2011 (3rd) 3rd K.J. Choi 9/15 4 2010 (2nd) Win (x2) Bubba Watson 3/6 1 2010 (3rd) 3rd Retief Goosen 10/13 3 2010 (5th) Win (x2) Carl Pettersson 7/14 3 2010 (T8) Win Stewart Cink 9/13 2 2008 (T2) T2 Rod Pampling 5/9 3 2008 (T8) T4 Geoff Ogilvy 7/10 2 2008 (T10) T9 Brian Gay 9/15 2 2007 (T4) T4 Lucas Glover 8/13 1 2007 (T4) T4 Chad Campbell 7/13 2 2005 (2nd) 2nd
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