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.

Fresh Coat - Sunday, March 5

6 Mar

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Action on the Copperhead started this afternoon with the HSN Cares Par4Miler in support of Moffitt Cancer Center as 350 participants, nearly twice as many as last year, enjoyed a run/walk on the Copperhead Course in the late afternoon sunshine. Derek Grzadziel was the winner with a time of 26:07 and Amy Walsh topped the women at 28:48.

Former NFL star Tiki Barber placed 7th.

All of the participants were winners with tickets to the Valspar Championship and a certificate for Valspar Paint.

Schwartzel Wins!

14 Mar

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Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, returned to the PGA TOUR victory circle when he defeated Bill Haas in a one-hole playoff to win the 2016 Valspar Championship presented by BB&T. The duo had tied at 7-under par in regulation with Schwartzel winning with a par on the 18th hole after Haas was unable to save par from the bunker.

Schwartzel joined Retief Goosen (2003 & ’09) as the second South African to win the Valspar Championship. He started the day five shots behind Haas but caught him with a 67 to the third-round leader’s 72.

Haas never trailed during his round, but fell into a tie with Schwartzel when he bogeyed the 16th hole.

Schwartzel’s round was blunted by bogeys on the 10th and 12th holes, but he jump-started a run of three birdies in five holes with a 64-foot putt on 13.

Another major story of the 2016 Valspar Championship was the play of amateur Lee McCoy whose final round 69 put him in 4th place three shots behind the leaders. The University of Georgia senior who grew up less than a mile from Innisbrook is the first amateur to finish as high as fourth in a PGA TOUR event since Justin Rose at the 1998 British Open (also 4th).

– – –

The Valspar Championship enjoyed a record week of attendance with approximately 105,000 fans, up 20,000 from last year, making their way to the Copperhead Course during the week. “We know we had our best Thursday ever, our best Friday and our best Saturday – and Sunday was strong as well,” says Tournament Director Tracy West. “Thank you to all the fans who attended and the hard work of all those responsible for putting on such a well-received event, especially our 2,000 volunteers.”

– – –

COPPERHEAD BITES: Schwartzel entered the week ranked 28th in the world despite not having won on the PGA TOUR since 2011. He has had three European Tour victories since, including the Tshwane Open in South Africa in February…With an 18th-place finish, defending champion Jordan Spieth posted his fourth top 20 finish in the Valspar Championship in as many tries…Charles Howell III, Retief Goosen and Justin Leonard all made the cut for their 10th time in the Valspar Championship. They are now tied for second in tournament annals, one behind Jonathan Byrd’s 11…Goosen finished in a tie for 11th place at 1 under par to earn $130,014 and move past K.J. Choi into first place on the Valspar Championship’s all-time money list with $2,372,153…The average score for the tournament was 72.62, the second highest in tournament history (72.97 in 2008 remains the record)…On the heels of wins by Kevin Streelman (2013), John Senden (2014) and Spieth, Schwartzel becomes the fourth consecutive Valspar champion whose last name starts with “S”…This was the only tournament in Valspar Championship history without a single round of 65 or better, but a record was set with a total of 27 eagles during the course of the tournament…This was the third playoff in tournament history, and they all have come in the last five years.

QUOTABLE –

CHARL SCHWARTZEL – “I thought at the beginning of the week, if you do get a chance to win you better not back off. Out here guys are really good. You’ve got to take the shots on and live with the consequences. It really is a great feeling.”

BILL HAAS on his feelings about the Copperhead Course and the Valspar Championship – “I love the area. Inside the gates here, it is just pure golf. We’re playing the best golf course we play in Florida and it’s probably in the top five, top 10 courses we play on TOUR…Whistling Straits, 20-under won and you’ve got a place here in Florida right off Highway 19 that’s taking 7-under to win. The place here should be pretty proud.”

JORDAN SPIETH – “The crowds were unbelievable this week. Today, especially with Lee bringing his crowd in, too, and the momentum he was bringing, it was awesome.”

LEE McCOY on Spieth – “The guy has got so much class and he really treated me like I belong out her and that meant a lot.”

The Fresh Coat - March 12

13 Mar

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Bill Haas, seeking his seventh win on the PGA TOUR, takes a one-shot lead into Sunday after firing a 3-under-par 68 in the third round for a 54-hole score of 8-under-par 205. Haas, the son of longtime pro Jay Haas who played in 14 JCPenney Classics, was the 2011 FedExCup champion and has been part of the last three Presidents Cup competitions. His best previous finish at the Valspar Championship was 14th in 2014.

“Eight under par through three days is Majoresque scoring, that’s what great golf courses do,” said Haas of the Copperhead Course. “I think we all wish we played more courses like this.” One of three leaders after 36 holes, he is the only player to reach 8-under in the tournament and at one point held a three-shot lead.

DeLaet is a Canadian from the plains of Saskatchewan who is seeking his first PGA TOUR victory after three runner-up finishes since 2013. Like Haas, he did not play in the Valspar Championship last year, after finishing 8th in 2014.

While Haas and DeLaet, who tee off in the final group at 1:50 Sunday, forged a bit of a margin on the field, there are 16 other competitors within six shots of the lead.

Also in the mix are three players who figured prominently in last year’s drama. Ryan Moore, last year’s third round leader, is tied for third with Charley Hoffman at -5.

Patrick Reed, who was in the 2015 three-way playoff with Jordan Spieth and Sean O’Hair, is among three players at -4. Veteran Steve Stricker and Charles Howell III are the other two and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel is at -3.

Defending championship Jordan Spieth is in the group of nine at -2. The world’s top-ranked golfer shot a 67 on Saturday that was highlighted by and eagle at the par-5 14th. He will be paired in a 1:10 tee time with the field’s lone amateur, Lee McCoy who grew up less than a mile from Innisbrook. McCoy shot Saturday’s low round, a 66.

All three of the OWGR top 10 who are in the field have done well, as OWGR #7 Henrik Stenson is also in the group at-2.

COPPERHEAD BITES: Every previous Valspar Championship has had at least one round of 65, but there have been none so far in 2016…Retief Goosen and Charles Howell III are currently in the top 20. If they maintain that position, they would tie Jonathan Byrd’s record of six finishes in the top 10 in the Valspar…Goosen can also join K.J. Choi and Luke Donald with a record-tying fourth top 10 finish…With a current average score of 72.67, this year’s tournament currently stands as the second highest-scoring Valspar Championship behind the 2008 event.

The Fresh Coat - Friday March 11

12 Mar

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A fantastic golf weekend appears in the offing as a tightly-bunched field of 71 golfers prepare to take on the Copperhead Course after surviving the first two days. The cut at 3 over par 145 matched the highest in Valspar Championship history.

Will McKenzie, a two-time PGA TOUR winner, and 49-year-old Steve Stricker hold the lead at 5 under par after shooting 67 and 66 respectively on Friday, and will play in the final grouping at 1:45 p.m. In addition, a varied and interesting cast of professionals is nipping at their heels.

Daniel Berger, Bill Haas and Graham DeLaet are one shot off the lead at 4 under and a total of 23 golfers are within four shots of the lead.

That group also includes the Valspar Championship’s pair of two-time winners, Retief Goosen and K.J. Choi, Patrick Reed who was in last year’s playoff, Matt Kuchar, Justin Thomas and Henrik Stenson.

Jordan Spieth, the defending champion and the number-one ranked player in the world, made the cut and moved into the fringes of contention seven shots back with a 68 on Friday after his opening 76. He tees off at 9:05 a.m. on the first tee with fellow Dallas-area product Justin Leonard.

COPPERHEAD BITES: There were no holes in one on Friday, but veteran Steve Stricker did make an eagle on the par-4 10th hole when he holed out from 150 yards out. It was only the second eagle on the 10th in tournament history…Three players- Stricker, DeLaet and George McNeill – shot 66, the lowest score of the tournament on Friday…Lee McCoy, the lone amateur in the field, made the cut on the number at 3-over-par…Four other sponsor’s exemptions made the cut – Greg Yates, now a pro, who won the 2015 Valspar Collegiate Invitational at The Floridian while representing Texas A&M, Danny Willett of England and the European Tour, Thomas Aiken and Sam Saunders…Goosen, Charles Howell III and Justin Leonard each made the cut on the Copperhead for the 10th time. Jonathan Byrd, not in the field this year, holds the record at 11…The 5-under lead ties the highest 36-hole lead in tournament history, matching Brandt Snedeker in 2008…It also is the highest 36-hole score to par to lead on the PGA TOUR this season by three strokes…Keegan Bradley, one of the first round leaders with a score of 67, shot 79 on Friday and missed the cut…A total of 13 different countries are represented by the 71 players remaining in the field.

The Fresh Coat - Thursday March 10

11 Mar

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Large crowds highlighted the first day of the Valspar Championship presented by BB&T, even as strong, gusting winds sent some scores soaring on the difficult Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor.

Friday’s cut could challenge the tournament record of +3 (three times), as the breezy conditions, especially in the morning, made the always-tough Copperhead very resistant to scoring on Thursday. The 73.222 scoring average was the third-highest for any round in tournament history and the highest in a first round.

Two players who defied the conditions were the winner of the 2011 PGA Championship, Keegan Bradley, and veterans Ken Duke and Charles Howell III who carded four-under-par 67s.

Bradley is returning to the Copperhead after a five-year absence, although he also remembered his time on the course as a 13-year-old caddie for his father Mark Bradley who played in the 1998 JCPenney Classic with Keegan’s aunt Pat Bradley. “I thought it was so cool. It’s fun to be back out there.”

Duke is playing in the tournament for the ninth time. He finished one-shot out of the four-man playoff in 2012 (won by Luke Donald).

Howell III had a gallery that included his friend former Buccaneers great Ronde Barber. Howell, a native of August, Georga, said afterwards he saw a reminder that The Masters is a month and he has not qualified for his hometown event since 2012.

Retief Goosen, a two-time champion on the Copperhead, was among the total of just 24 players who broke par with a 70. But it was a tough day for the nine other former champions in the field, as defending champ Jordan Spieth shot 76, Sean O’Hair had to withdraw due to a neck injury and none broke par.

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After play was completed Thursday, country music giants Rascal Flatts performed a rousing concert on the Osprey Driving Range in the 2nd VALSPAR Live! event. A crowd of approximately 12,500 attended.

There were not any holes-in-one in the first round, but Blayne Barber did eagle the par-4 12th hole. It marked the fifth eagle in tournament history at the hole…With the wind blowing so strongly, the water at the par-3 13th hole was hit frequently. There were 16 scores of double bogey or higher at 13 on Thursday and just 47 at the other 17 holes combined…Greg Yates, a sponsor exemption by virtue of his victory in the 2015 Valspar Collegiate Invitational while at Texas A&M, shot 69.

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Live coverage of the Valspar Championship on the Golf Channel will begin at 3 p.m. on Friday with Spieth’s bid to make the cut (he tees off Hole #1 at 12:57) sure to be featured.

In addition, there will be plenty of action in the morning, some of it featured on PGA TOUR LIVE’s exclusive early-round coverage of two Featured Groups from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. ET. The groups featured are Russell Knox-Justin Thomas-Jason Dufner and Matt Kuchar-Louis Oosthuizen-Ernie Els.

Following the featured group coverage, PGA TOUR LIVE will switch to complimentary featured hole coverage (No. 15 and No. 17) on Thursday and Friday from 3-6 p.m. Visit pgatourlive.com for more information.

Fans can register for a free seven-day trial at PGATOURLIVE.COM or download from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

The Fresh Coat - Wednesday March 9

10 Mar

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Wednesday was a red letter day (and actually all the other colors of the rainbow as well) at the Valspar Championship presented by BB&T.  The golf fans of Tampa Bay learned that the area would be a PGA TOUR destination through at least 2020 as Valspar, the PGA TOUR and Copperhead Charities, the tournament’s host organization, announced a three-year extension of Valspar’s title sponsorship.

“If you look back to that point in time in 2013 where we were uncertain as to who the future title would be and you look at where we are today, there’s been nothing but incredible progress,” said Jay Monahan, the PGA TOUR’s deputy commissioner, in making the announcement of the first title sponsor extension in tournament history. “Since the moment that Valspar stepped forward it’s been very clear that they were a hundred percent committed to Tampa Bay, to this tournament and to growing their business through the tournament.  They are the epitome of a great partner.”

“We’re really proud of our ability to sponsor the tournament and make an impact with charities in the Tampa Bay area,” said Valspar CEO Gary Hendrickson. “It’s been great for Valspar as well.  We think it is a fantastic place to showcase our brand and our products.  We really want to continue to make the progress we’ve made on this tournament.”

“It’s exciting for all of us, including Sheila Johnson and her Innisbrook team.  She likes this partnership,” said Les Muma, General Chairman of Copperhead Charities.  “Valspar, they are the ideal sponsor.”

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With that good news announced, the 2016 tournament will begin on Thursday with Jordan Spieth, the number one ranked player in the world, beginning his title defense off the 10th tee at 8:07 a.m., playing with Henrik Stenson and Bill Haas, two fellow winners of the FedExCup.

“I’m excited that the sponsorship is now extended through 2020. Obviously, it is going to be held here in a place that I really enjoy coming to and fits my game well.  That’s obviously great news for me as well as the TOUR and Valspar.”

Playing one group ahead of Spieth, at 7:56, will be the group of Graeme McDowell, Patrick Reed and Hunter Mahan.  McDowell is competing on the Copperhead Course for the first time. “I like the way it sets up,” said McDowell who made a special trip to Innisbrook Resort for a practice round two weeks ago.  “A lot of players had talked to me about this event many times.  I really like the golf course.”

The other tee times for the first two rounds can be found here.

After the 144 players complete their opening rounds on Thursday, country music giants Rascal Flatts will perform on the Osprey Driving Range in the 2nd VALSPAR Live! event.  The entrance to the concert area is behind the 14th green with gates opening at 5 p.m.   It is festival seating (with a limited number of chairs available for rent).   The concert should begin around 7 p.m.

Live coverage of the Valspar Championship on the Golf Channel will begin at 3 p.m. on Thursday. In addition the Spieth-Stenson-Haas and McDowell-Reed-Mahan groups are featured in exclusive early-round coverage on PGA TOUR LIVE with coverage from 8 a.m. to  3 p.m.

– – –

In Wednesday’s action on the Copperhead, the Championship Pro-Am was won by Charl Schwartzel and his amateur partners Gary Foerster, John Ballbach and Les Herald.  Their 14-under-par 57 was one shot better than the teams of Ryan Palmer, Steve Stricker and James Hahn.

The Fresh Coat - Tuesday, March 8

9 Mar

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Wednesday will feature the Championship Pro-Am along with defending champion Jordan Spieth’s pre-tournament interview session at 10 a.m. Graeme McDowell and Patrick Reed will also be in the Interview Room early in the afternoon following their morning pro-am rounds.

Spieth will tee off in his pro-am round at 11:50 a.m. on the 1st tee.

– – –

Henrik Stenson, the seventh-ranked player in the world appeared in the Interview Room on Tuesday and among the topics covered was his decision to skip the upcoming WGC Dell World Match Play Championship and play in the Valspar Championship.

“I think it (the Copperhead) is a good golf course for me…I played it for the first time last year, this is only my second time here. I kept it on because I think the golf course really suits my game. It’s close to home (Orlando) and…Valspar is putting on a good show and looking after us well.”

Veteran pro Matt Kuchar is back to The Valspar for an eighth time. “I certainly have enjoyed my time,” he said Tuesday. “I enjoy the golf course, I enjoy staying on property. It’s a great week.”

– – –

The Valspar Championship presented by BB&T begins Thursday morning and the PGA TOUR has issued tee times for the first two rounds.

Defending champion Spieth is in one of four Featured Groups, teeing off the 10th tee on Thursday at 8:07 a.m. with Bill Haas and Henrik Stenson, each of whom has won a FedExCup.

Live coverage of the Valspar Championship will begin at 3 p.m. on Thursday on Golf Channel.

In addition, PGA TOUR LIVE will feature exclusive early-round coverage of two Featured Groups on Thursday and Friday morning. PGA TOUR LIVE’s Thursday and Friday coverage of the featured groups will run from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. ET

Featured Groups for Thursday, March 10 beginning at 8 a.m. ET
Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Bill Haas (2015, ’13, ’11 winners of the FedExCup)
Graeme McDowell, Patrick Reed, Hunter Mahan

Featured Groups for Friday, March 11 beginning at 8 a.m. ET
Russell Knox, Justin Thomas, Jason Dufner (currently #4, #6, #10 in the FedExCup)
Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Ernie Els

Following the featured group coverage, PGA TOUR LIVE will switch to complimentary featured hole coverage (No. 15 and No. 17) on Thursday and Friday from 3-6 p.m. Visit pgatourlive.com for more information.

Fans can register for a free seven-day trial at PGATOURLIVE.COM or download from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

In addition to its exclusive live coverage of the TOUR’s biggest stars at 31 tournaments during the 2015-2016 TOUR season, including the entire FedExCup Playoffs, PGA TOUR LIVE features integrated statistics, round replays, simulcasts of select CBS weekend coverage and access to PGA TOUR video archives.

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