The Valspar Championship: Who will be burning their way down Copperhead Road at Innisbrook?

It’s the final week of the PGA Tour’s Florida Swing and we take a look at the best angles and leading contenders.

After an exhaustingly extended week at THE PLAYERS Championship the PGA Tour makes the move to the Innisbrook Resort for this week's Valspar Championship.

It's a popular course and event, played on the twisting and turning Copperhead Course.

The field is not super-strengthed, impacted by last week's "fifth major", next week's World Golf Championship Dell Match Play and the Masters in just three weeks time.

But it's far from a bad field and an Englishman is among those hopeful of success.

Let's take a look at key angles this week and which of the leading contenders they point toward.

True aim

Even under normal circumstances, Paul Casey would be feeling pretty chipper about returning to Innisbrook.

He won on the course in 2018, successfully defended the title in 2019, and was T21st when he tried to complete the three-peat last year (the 2020 tournament was cancelled).

But last week he not only registered his best-ever performance at TPC Sawgrass, he also did so in a way that could easily allow him to ride the wave this week.

He'd been struggling with his putting and then discovered that he was addressing the ball with the toe of his putter.

Scotty Cameron added a dot to the top of his wand and he promptly started draining shot on the greens.

Simple but effective. "I'm swinging the putter much better," he said.

Strong tee to green

The words of Henrik Stenson reveal what it takes to succeed this week.

"It's a course where you position yourself off the tee quite a lot," the Swede explained. "You have to lay back unless you really want to try and thread a few of the tee shots out there.

"So, it's quite a few 2-irons and 4-woods, 3-woods off the tee and little bit longer irons into the greens which are pretty small and kind of sits at an angle towards you quite a lot.

"You want to try to keep it underneath the hole because I can only imagine the kind of quick putts you can get if you end up in the wrong place or chipping from the wrong place."

In other words: smart from the tee box, smart with approaches, and, when you miss the greens, smart with the short game.

It highlights the importance of Strokes Gained Tee to Green, the category which combines SG Off the Tee, Approach and Around the Green.

In fact, each of the last six winners of the tournament ranked top six in this category.

Here are the top five ranked players in this season's SG Tee to Green with notes on their form and course record:

Justin Thomas: Three top 10s from five starts in 2022 and three top 20s from four course starts with a best of T10th. T33rd on defence of THE PLAYERS last week.

Collin Morikawa: Missed the cut last week at TPC Sawgrass, but was second in his previous start at Riviera. A debutant in the event.

Matt Fitzpatrick: Another who missed the cut last week, after starting 2022 with three straight top 10s. Also had a lost weekend in his only previous course start (in 2018) but plays this week alongside his young brother Alex.

Keegan Bradley: Led through 54 holes in this event last year before being pipped at the post. He was also fifth last week and is ruing an exceptionally unfortunate two shot penalty when the wind blew his ball as he was marking it on Friday. Will those two sore memories hurt his chances or put the bit between his teeth?

Russell Knox: The Scot impressed when sixth last week at Sawgrass and he has a solid course record with top 25 finishes in each of his last three visits (albeit his best is T16th).

Mastering the undulations

The Copperhead Course is somewhat unusual in that it's a Florida resort course that isn't mostly flat.

Instead there are elevation changes, undulating fairways and slopey greens.

Down the years champions on the course have tended to be golfers who are proven in such conditions, often at layouts such at Deere Run and Augusta National.

In fact, five golfers have won at both Deere Run and also Innisbrook, while four have completed the Augusta-Innisbrook double, and plenty of Valspar winners have fine records in the Masters.

Mexico's Abraham Ancer has got his Masters log book off to a great start, sharing the halfway lead and playing in the last group out in the final round on his debut ahead of finishing T13th before backing that up last year with a solid T26th.

He's only played Deere Run once, but broke 70 in each of his four laps on his way to T27th.

His two visits to Innisbrook have been good too: T16th on debut in 2018 and fifth last year when in contention all week.

He claimed a first win on the PGA Tour last summer and hinted last week that his best form is not too far away, sitting inside the top 10 all week at TPC Sawgrass before recording T33rd.

READ MORE: THE PLAYERS Championship: Cameron Smith wins Sawgrass shootout after birdie blitz

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