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.

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).

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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.”

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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.

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