CASEY AND TAMPA BAY ARE WINNERS FROM 2018 VALSPAR CHAMPIONSHIP

19 Sep

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Paul Casey, winner of 13 European Tour events and a three-time Ryder Cup participant, shot a final round 65 to climb back from five shots off the pace and win the 2018 Valspar Championship. His 274 total of 10 under par was one ahead of Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed. The victory vaulted Casey to 12th in the Official World Golf Rankings.

“It just was a great week,” said the 40-year-old Englishman afterwards. “The buzz, everything about it, the roars, the course. I loved it. As soon as I turned up (here this week), I had a good feeling and obviously I’ll be back next year. But it’s one tournament I now will probably have on the schedule forever.”

The Tampa Bay area, particularly some of the local charities, were also big winners. With attendance up to 150,000 from 112,000 in 2017 (up 34%), the Valspar Championship expects to announce charitable contributions of more than $2.5 million later this year.

The tournament was of course energized by the appearance of Woods, the PGA TOUR’s all-time money winner, who sent out the following tweet on Sunday night.

“We have so many people and things to be thankful for,” says Tournament Director Tracy West. “First, to the golf fans of the Tampa Bay area. They came out in great numbers, they understood the situation and they were respectful and supportive of all the golfers. We had a lot of challenges to get ready for so many more patrons and our tournament staff and volunteers did a great job. We think our operations got better every day and from what we hear the vast majority of our fans had a great time. The result of all of it should be a substantial improvement in our final amount of money generated for charity which we will announce in a couple of months.”

The 2018 Valspar Championship was a great showcase for the Tampa Bay area. The 5.1 rating received by NBC for Sunday’s coverage was the best for any non-Masters golf event since the 2015 PGA Championship.

COLOR SHOTS: A total of 1,212 birdies were made in the tournament, setting the number for donations for the tournament’s Birdies for Tampa Bay Charities program…Casey only missed three putts all day in fashioning his closing 65…Casey is the 9th international winner of the Valspar Championship, third in a row and second (also Luke Donald) from England…Sergio Garcia, in his final event before becoming a father for the first time, joined Casey in shooting 65 in the final round and finished 4th…Casey tied Charl Schwartzel’s 2016 record by winning despite trailing by five shots after the third round…Brian Gay now holds the tournament record by playing in the Valspar Championship 17 times, while Charles Howell III now has the mark with 12 cuts made…Jim Furyk equaled a tournament record with his 4th finish in the top 10….Defending champion Adam Hadwin tied for 12th, his third straight top 12 finish this year…The tournament went without a hole in one for the third straight year…Sean O’Hair had the only eagle on a par four this week, the fifth in tournament history on the 6th hole.

CONNERS LEADS FOR 3RD STRAIGHT ROUND WITH WOODS, ROSE, SNEDEKER JUST ONE BACK

19 Sep

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The final round of the Valspar Championship will feature a packed leaderboard with star power. Three acknowledged champions – Tiger Woods, with 79 PGA TOUR victories; 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist Justin Rose and eight-time PGA TOUR winner Brandt Snedeker – are all tied at 8-under-par.

But the solo leader, as it has been for the first three rounds, is Corey Conners, a relatively unknown 26-year old Canadian. Conners, who did not get into the tournament until Monday, has never finished in the top 20 in a PGA TOUR event, much less won one.

On a Saturday without much wind, Conners had a 68 – his third straight round in the 60s – to finish -9, and stay ahead of Rose at 66 and Woods and Snedeker at 67.

Woods gave notice that his comeback is on track, making five birdies against one bogey and held a share of the lead during the round.

Rose, back at Innisbrook after a two-year absence, has finished in the top 20 five times in nine previous starts on the Copperhead. Snedeker, who will be playing with Woods for the second straight round and fifth time this year, has a 4th and an 8th in eight previous tournaments at Innisbrook.

1 Corey Conners -9
T-2 Tiger Woods -8
T-2 Brandt Snedeker -8
T-2 Justin Rose -8
T-5 Sam Burns -6
T-5 Patrick Reed -6
T-7 Tyrone Van Aswegen -5
T-7 Ryan Palmer -5
T-7 Kelly Kraft -5
T-7 Rory Sabbatini -5
T-11 Webb Simpson -4
T-11 Louis Oosthuizen -4
T-11 Adam Scott -4
T-11 Paul Casey -4
T-11 Branden Grace -4
T-11 Russell Knox -4
T-11 Trey Mullinax -4

The Osprey Driving Range rocked to Valspar LIVE! on Saturday night featuring Jake Owen and Dustin Lynch.

SUNDAY
As play begins on Sunday, 16 players are within five shots of the lead

Canadians have held the solo lead at the end of each of the last five rounds of the Valspar Championship.

If Tiger Woods gets an 80th PGA TOUR victory today, he will be two behind Sam Snead’s PGA TOUR record of 82

It seems likely that a 16th different individual will become a Valspar Championship winner today. Of the five past champions in the field, Sean O’Hair (2008) is in the best position at 3 under par, six back.

TICKET UPDATE
Select A Day Tickets for Sunday’s final round of the Valspar Championship are on sale at ValsparChampionship.com and at the tournament admission gate. Ticket sales at Publix have closed. Other ticket packages, including the Hooters Owl’s Nest, are sold out.

PARKING UPDATE
Advance on-line parking at the three main lots – Green, Red and Silver – is sold out.

Cash parking for $10, with shuttle busing, is available at two additional lots near the course on an as available basis. Parking at the Bronze Lot at Palm Harbor University High School. You are advised to purchase Bronze Lot parking in advance.

The Keystone Lot at the southeast corner of Keystone and East Lake Road, convenient for fans in northern Hillsborough County, as well as Pasco County, is cash only on a first-come, first-parked basis.

Fans approaching from the south will find ample parking at Great Bay Distributors at 2750 Eagle Avenue North, off 28th Street in St. Petersburg, north of Gandy Boulevard. That is also served by shuttle buses.

Fans without advanced parking are highly encouraged to use Yellow Cab/United Taxi or a ride share service. Passengers will be dropped off at 169 West Klosterman Road and shuttled the short distance to the course.

CONNERS LEADS AGAIN, WOODS AMONG FIVE TWO SHOTS BACK

19 Sep

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SATURDAY
After Friday’s cut at 3 over par, 78 players remain on in the field. Tee times, in twosomes, begin at 7:35 a.m. Saturday with the final grouping of Corey Conners and Paul Casey teeing off at 1:55 p.m. Brandt Snedeker and Tiger Woods are in front of them at 1:45.

Among the interesting pairings are Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar at 9:25; Jim Furyk and Charl Schwartzel, a pair of past Valspar champions at 10:35 and Justin Rose and Webb Simpson, both past U.S. Open champs at 1:15.

The PGA TOUR has released the tee times for Saturday’s third round can be viewed here.

After play, Jake Owen and Dustin Lynch take the stage on the Osprey Driving Range for the fourth Valspar LIVE! concert.

TICKET UPDATE
Select A Day Tickets for the Valspar Championship remain on sale for both Saturday and Sunday at ValsparChampionship.com and at the tournament admission gate. Ticket sales at Publix have closed. Other ticket packages, including the Hooters Owl’s Nest, are sold out.

PARKING UPDATE
Advance on-line parking at the three main lots – Green, Red and Silver – is sold out.

Cash parking for $10, with shuttle busing, is available at two additional lots near the course on an as available basis. Parking at the Bronze Lot at Palm Harbor University High School. You are advised to purchase Bronze Lot parking in advance.

The Keystone Lot at the southeast corner of Keystone and East Lake Road, convenient for fans in northern Hillsborough County, as well as Pasco County, is cash only on a first-come, first-parked basis.

Fans approaching from the south will find ample parking Great Bay Distributors at 2750 Eagle Avenue North, off 28th Street in St. Petersburg, north of Gandy Boulevard. That is also served by shuttle buses.

Fans without advanced parking are highly encouraged to use Yellow Cab/United Taxi or a ride share service. Passengers will be dropped off at 169 West Klosterman Road and shuttled the short distance to the course.

ADAM HADWIN TAKES THRILLING VALSPAR CHAMPIONSHIP

13 Mar

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Surviving a 16th hole double bogey, Adam Hadwin is a PGA TOUR victor for the first time after he captured the 2017 Valspar Championship presented by BB&T by one stroke over Patrick Cantlay on Sunday.

Hadwin had held a 4-shot lead going into the final round and still led by two shots over Cantlay with three holes to play despite the latter’s barrage of five birdies in a six-hole stretch. However, Hadwin’s drive at 16 wandered right into the water for the six that tied things up. After mutual pars at 17, the final pairing went to 18 tied at 14 under.

In a dramatic finish, Cantlay bogeyed after he was unable to get up-and-down from the right greenside bunker while Hadwin was able to make par from the back fringe with a skillful chip.

Hadwin, 29, had enjoyed a string of solid finishes throughout the season including a runner up at the CareerBuilder Challenge and was thrilled to get his first win which will qualify him for his first Masters in three weeks. “This is a fantastic feeling,” he said. “You’re never quite sure when you’re going to get the job done. I just went there today and stuck to what I do best, just hit some quality golf shots and really made the game super easy outside of hole No. 16. I feel a little fortunate after that hole to be sitting here, but I’ll certainly take it, and I can’t wait for everything that comes with this win.”

Hadwin also earned a spot in the upcoming WGC Match Play Championship with the win, but plans to go ahead with his planned wedding to Jessica Kippenberger instead. But a honeymoon to French Polynesia will be postponed to play in Augusta. The couple is looking for their first house, and when they do Valspar has offered to provide them with all the paint they need.

Hadwin is from Canada and he noted a tremendous amount of support from the fans of Tampa Bay. “There were a lot of Canadian flags out there today,” he said. “I’m thrilled to win on this great course, it’s firm and fast and the only reason the scores were relatively low this week was the lack of wind. It’s a fun course to play, with a wide range of shots. I look forward to playing it many times in the future.”

Hadwin’s winning total of 270 was the lowest for a Valspar Championship winner since Gary Woodland shot 269 in 2011. He is the fourth player to win his first PGA TOUR title on the Copperhead, although each of the other three (Carl Pettersson in 2005, Woodland in ’11 and Kevin Streelman in ’13) would win again.

He is the tournament’s eighth international champion (the 10th total time with K.J. Choi and Retief Goosen winning twice) and the first from Canada. A huge fan of baseball in general and the Toronto Blue Jays in particular, he was excited that his prospects were being widely discussed at the baseball team’s spring training base in Dunedin over the weekend. Hadwin is the 14th Canadian to win on the PGA TOUR with good friends Nick Taylor and MacKenzie Hughes having done so recently. The victory was Hadwin’s fifth in PGA TOUR-sponsored events with two on the Mackenzie Tour and two on the Web.com Tour.

COPPERHEAD BITES – The tournament enjoyed its largest crowds with an estimated attendance of 112,000 for the week. Saturday’s activities, including a concert by Toby Keith, resulted in the first sellout in Valspar Championship history…2016 champion Charl Schwartzel conducted a spirited defense of his title, closing with 67-68 on the weekend to finish in 6th place at -9…Tony Finau had the best round of the final day, shooting 7-under 64 and finishing 5th…Lee McCoy last year’s amateur sensation, who could not take his 4th place winnings in 2016, finished 65th and earned $13,167…It was the eighth time in nine tournaments that the Valspar Championship has been decided by one shot or in a playoff. The exception was Kevin Streelman’s two-shot win in 2013.

Fresh Coat - Saturday, March 11

12 Mar

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Canadian Adam Hadwin takes a four-shot lead into the final round of the 2017 Valspar Championship presented by BB&T after firing a 4-under-par 67 on Saturday. He stands at 14-under 199, with a four shot lead over sponsor’s exemption Patrick Cantlay whose 66 was the only round of Chick-fil-A Moooving Day better than Hadwin’s. The four-shot advantage for Hadwin is the tournament’s biggest after three rounds since 2002 when K.J. Choi had a five-shot lead. Hadwin’s total of 199 matches Choi’s tournament 54-hole record of 199 that year.

Cantlay, whose promising career has been sidetracked by a back injury compounded with personal tragedy, is one shot ahead of Jim Herman who is at -9. Herman has a pair of 71s after shooting 62 on Thursday.

Hadwin, who has not won a PGA TOUR event, did hold a third-round lead earlier this year at the CareerBuilder Challenge after he shot a third-round 59. In that tournament, he had a one-shot lead over Dominic Bozelli who is also making himself known this week. Bozelli is 4th at -8.

Hadwin will be trying to become the first player to shoot four rounds in the 60s at the Valspar since 2012 when five players accomplished the feat – Sang Moon Bae, Ken Duke, Jeff Overton, Webb Simpson and Kevin Streelman.

Hadwin struggled in his only two previous appearances at the Valspar Championship. Missing the cut last year and finishing last of those that made the cut in 2015. This year, he tries to become the first player since 2012 to shoot four rounds in the 60’s at the Valspar Championship. Now filled with smiles and a relaxed demeanor on the course, he reflected on a different moment in this event in ‘16. “Last year, I broke a 7-iron here on the second hole,” Hadwin recalled after Saturday’s round. “So I’ve improved. I tossed it into a tree. I’ve really learned to calm down and stay patient. Understand that the shot that I’m hitting is not the most important thing in life.”

He attributes his better attitude to his fiancee Jessica, who he’s marrying in two weeks. He’s hoping the planned honeymoon in French Polynesia will have to be delayed if he holds the 4-shot lead and qualifies for The Masters.

As for Herman in third place, “I’m just not putting the ball in the hole like I did on day one,” he says.

The final group of Hadwin and Patrick Cantlay have never won a PGA TOUR event. If either is successful, they would become the fourth player to win on the Copperhead for their first PGA TOUR event, joining Carl Pettersson, Gary Woodland and Kevin Streelman (all of whom have won again since). If Hadwin wins, as a Canadian he would become the eighth foreign golfer to win The Valspar (the 10th total time, golfers representing a total of seven countries).

COPPERHEAD BITES – Charl Schwartzel (T7 at -6) will be trying for the first top ten finish at this event as defending champion since Luke Donald finished T4 as defending champion in 2012. Schwartzel had a 67 on Saturday…Cantlay missed the cut in his only previous start on the Copperhead in 2013…Hadwin, from Abbottsford, BC, went to the University of Louisville. Cantlay went to UCLA where he was the top college golfer in the country in 2011 and shot 60 in the Travelers Championship as an amateur in 2011.

TOURNAMENT NOTES – Fans enjoyed treats from Chick-fil-A on Moooving Day and also treating themselves were David Hearn and Ben Martin who advanced upwards 34 spots with 68s to move from 52nd to 18th place…The Saturday crowd, buoyed by Toby Keith’s evening concert, was so large, the tournament had to cease selling tickets around 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. It was the first time in Valspar Championship history that a daily sellout was reached…A good supply of tickets still remain for Sunday’s final round.

Fresh Coat - Friday, March 10

11 Mar

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Canadian Adam Hadwin, one of eight individuals to shoot 58 or better on the PGA TOUR, went low again on Friday with a 7-under-par 64 to take the second round lead in the Valspar Championship presented by BB&T.  Hadwin’s best career finish was a 2nd earlier this year in the CareerBuilder Challenge when he shot his 59 in the third round.

Hadwin enters the weekend at 10-under, one shot ahead of first round leader Jim Herman who followed his opening 62 with an even par 71.  Also making a move on Friday was Tyrone Van Aswegen of South Africa with a 65 that brought him to 3rd place at 8 under par.

Henrik Stenson, the highest-ranked player in the field in the Official World Ranking, is among three players at 7 under par, three back, after his 71.  Other prominent players who made the cut, at even par 142 which matched the second-lowest in tournament history, include Matt Kuchar (-4), Ian Poulter (-3), defending champion Charl Schwartzel (-2), Gary Woodland (-2).  Among the 18 players at the cut line who survived to the weekend are Bill Haas, Graeme McDowell, Patrick Reed and Jim Furyk.

PARK AT PALM HARBOR UNIVERSITY HIGH SCHOOL!
Parking for Saturday for the Valspar Championship’s primary parking lots – Red, Green and Silver – has sold out in advance.  The tournament will open additional parking, with shuttle buses, at Palm Harbor University High School at 1900 Omaha Street, accessed from Alderman Road between Belcher Road and Alternate US 19 North, west of US 19.  Parking is $10, cash only.

COPPERHEAD BITES – Veteran pro Charles Howell III tied the tournament record by making the cut for the 11th time.  He shares the record with Jonathan Byrd who was not in the field this year…Hadwin’s 64 is the lowest second round score in the Valspar Championship since 2011…Hadwin’s total of 132 is one shot off the tournament record for the first two rounds set by K.J. Choi in 2002…Lee McCoy, who finished fourth last year as an amateur, will make a check this year.  He made the cut and enters Saturday’s round in a tie for 32nd at -2…This year’s amateur competitor, Jimmy Stanger of the University of Virginia, did not make the cut.

SATURDAY NOTES – Saturday is Chick-fil-A Moooving Day.  Fans are receiving Chick-fil-A coupons as they enter the grounds and if you are at the Driving Range when a pro hits the hole in the downrange target, you will win more coupons…Celebrity chef Ming Tsai will be giving a free cooking demonstration on Saturday at 10 a.m. in Grape & Grain, between the 9th and 10th holes…Country music superstar singer-songwriter Toby Keith will perform on the Osprey Driving Range following the completion of play.  Gates open around 5 p.m. across the road from the 14th green.

Fresh Coat - Thursday, March 9

10 Mar

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Jim Herman, the winner of the 2016 Shell Houston Open, is the overnight leader of the 2017 Valspar Championship presented by BB&T. Playing in the morning, when winds were nearly non-existent, Herman shot a 9-under-par 62, one shot off the course record held by Padraig Harrington, to go to shots up on Russell Henley and Henrik Stenson who had 64s.
A one-hour delay in the start of Thursday’s play due to fog, meant that 19 players, including the young Tampa Bay area duo of Lee McCoy and Jimmy Stanger, were still on the course when play was suspended by darkness, but none were close to the lead. They will finish their first rounds this morning.
Herman birdied nine of his first 14 holes to threaten the course record before parring the final five to match the best score of his PGA TOUR career. Herman’s 62 was the lowest on the Copperhead Course in five years. This is Herman’s third Valspar Championship, and he had not shot under 72 in his four previous rounds. He needed only 24 putts to complete his round.
Stenson is also playing in his third Valspar – and he has yet to shoot over 72 in nine trips around the course. He was 4th in 2015 and tied for 11th last year. The 64 represented his best score in a PGA TOUR event in Florida.

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TOURNAMENT NOTES – Defending champion Charl Schwartzel shot a 1-under 70 as he began his title defense while playing with Stenson….There were two eagles on par 4s – Jason Dufner thrilled the fans with a 189-yard hole out on the 3rd while Chad Campbell made two on the 10th hole….Celebrity chef Ming Tsai will be giving a free cooking demonstration on Friday at 1 p.m. in Grape & Grain, located between the 9th and 10th holes.

Fresh Coat - Wednesday, March 8

10 Mar

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The preliminaries are over and the 2017 Valspar Championship presented by BB&T will get underway Thursday morning with the first tee times for the 144 competitors at 6:50 a.m.

Charl Schwartzel will be defending his title against a field that includes more than 80 competitors who have also won PGA TOUR events. Like both of his playing partners at 7:56 a.m. off the 10thtee, Schwartzel is among 13 winners of Major Championships in the field. The 2011 Masters champion, he is playing with 2016 British Open champion Henrik Stenson and two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson.

Also in the field are the current FedExCup leader, Justin Thomas and 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup heroes Matt Kuchar, Ryan Moore and Patrick Reed.

There was one change in the field as Jon Curran withdrew due to a rib injury. Tim Wilkinson took his place in the field.

Fresh Coat - Tuesday, March 7

8 Mar

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Keith Mitchell drained a 25-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole at Southern Hills on Tuesday morning to win the final spot in the 2017 Valspar Championship presented by BB&T. Mitchell was one of five golfers competing in the holdover portion of the Open Qualifier that put Brendon Todd, Steve Wheatcroft and Charlie Danielson in the field on Monday. Mitchell, from the University of Georgia, will be making his first start in a PGA TOUR event.

Other than the action from the qualifier, the tournament field did not change.

Wednesday will see the Championship Pro-Am on the Copperhead, plus other pro-ams on two other courses at Innisbrook Resort in the final tuneup for Thursday’s opening round.

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In a press conference at Innisbrook on Tuesday, the PGA TOUR announced that two fourth assistants had been named by the respective captains for the 2017 Presidents Cup to be played this fall in Jersey City, New Jersey. U.S. Team Captain Steve Stricker announced that Jim Furyk would join Fred Couples, Davis Love III and Tiger Woods as captains assistants. International Team Captain Nick Price added Mike Weir to join Ernie Els, Tony Johnstone and Geoff Ogilvy.

Fresh Coat - Monday, March 6

7 Mar

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“Monday’s” qualifier at Southern Hills for the final four spots in the Valspar Championship will extend into Tuesday as five players – Robby Shelton, Chase Seiffert, John Maguire, Keith Mitchell and Will MacKenzie – will play-off in the morning for the fourth spot after shooting 4-under-par 68 at Southern Hills. The three players who did not need extra time to win their spots are Brendon Todd and Charles Danielson who had 6-under 66s and Steve Wheatcroft who shot 67.

Todd is the most accomplished of the trio with a victory in the 2014 Byron Nelson Championship among 12 top 10s in 147 career starts.

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The Copperhead Course is open with pro’s playing practice rounds.

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