Aided by some weather that broke the right way on the weekend, the 2023 Valspar Championship was a resounding success.
Taylor Moore shot 10 under par 274, with a closing 67, to win on the PGA TOUR for the first time. His victory was assured when the two players in the final group, Adam Schenk and Jordan Spieth could not negotiate the final three holes, the Snake Pit, without issues.
Schenk, tied for the lead entering the final hole, put his drive on 18 next to a tree on the left and took bogey. After bogeying the 16^th hole with a drive in the water, Spieth was unable to get the birdie he needed for a playoff and a chance at his second Valspar title.
He ended up two strokes behind Moore, tied for 3^rd with Tommy Fleetwood.
Sam Burns was unable to win for the third straight year, but with a final round 67, he finished 6^th and became the first player to win more than $3 million on the Copperhead. Also finishing in the top 10 was two-time Major Champion Justin Thomas.
“We had a great week,” says Tournament Director Tracy West. “Saturday’s projected rain never emerged and we had a wonderful concert from Darius Rucker. It was cool, but sunny, on Sunday, and we had a thrilling finish that included a 71-foot birdie putt by Adam Schenk at the Owl’s Nest at 12.”
The dates for the 2024 Valspar Championship will be March 18-24, one week later than this year due to an extra week for championship golf on the calendar between the start of the year and The Masters.
As in 2023, the Valspar Championship will be the last stop on the Florida Swing, with two tournaments between it and The Masters.
“From an operational standpoint, we would like to thank our staff, interns and 2,000 volunteers who worked so hard to make things run smoothly,” says West. “Our crowds were comparable to our strong galleries in 2019 and 2022. We were especially delighted with how our new layout at the 18^th green, with the addition of our first second-story venue, The Rooftop presented by DEX Imaging, looked and sounded. The Rooftop definitely will return next year.”
While it is too early for a final accounting, West is confident that the tournament will generate at least the $1.1 million that will put the event’s all-time funds generated for Tampa Bay charities past the $50 million mark.
“In the end, that’s the most important thing from our standpoint – and thanks to our Board, our Copperheads, our sponsors new and old, and our patrons in general, we continue to achieve success in that regard. Perhaps no one is more important in that success than Valspar which has completed their first decade as our title sponsor. They are committed to the Tampa Bay area and responsive whenever we need something extra to enhance our tournament experience.”
Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023 member and tournament general chair, Rondé Barber, will be joined by John as Astrab a co-general chair for the 2024 and 2025 tournaments. “Rondé has been awesome, both in terms of raising the visibility of the event, as well as in providing great counsel and stewardship to our team,” says West. “John has been with him every step of the way as vice general chair, and we know he will continue to provide us with great energy and leadership going forward in the co-general chair role.”
After two years of lower than average scores, the Copperhead played with customary difficulty in 2023.
The winning score of -10 was 17 shots better than the previous two tournaments. The average score of 71.94 was up by 1.71 shots per round from 2022’s record of 70.23. The cut of +1 was three shots higher than -2 in 2022. There were two scores of 65 in 2023, after 13 of 65 or lower in 2022.
“The players were unanimous in their praise for the Copperhead as a test of golf this year,” says West. “They found it challenging, but fair, and we know that will go a long way towards the quality of our field next year and beyond.”