2023 Valspar Championship first-round leader picks and trends
Fantasy Golf & Golf Betting Forebucks

2023 Valspar Championship first-round leader picks and trends

A photo of golfer Keegan Bradley

Each week of the PGA Tour season, the first-round leader market is one of the juiciest and most difficult to predict. With such a small sample size of first rounds, the fickle nature of form and the vagaries of splits, tee times and weather, there's a good reason these bets pay off so well when hit.

Now, we're going to try to help you win more PGA Tour first-round leader bets. In addition to our weekly model, which has a great track record of identifying PGA Tour winners every week, we're launching a first-round leader model that looks at the players most likely to wind up with at least a share of the first-round lead.

How the rubric works

Finding a first-round leader is difficult, so our model uses several factors to identify a potential FRL.

I've started the model by looking at first-round strokes gained against the field in the last 50, 20 and 10 tournaments played. I also include first-round strokes gained in those timeframes against courses with similar first-round scoring averages in the last five years. Then I add in a player's first-round history at the host golf course. Add it all together, and that's our projected FRL number for a player.

There are plenty of factors data can't quantify, including luck of the draw, playing partners, hole locations, weather and sheer random stuff. However, all told, the model is designed to point out quality players and boost those middling players who have good current form or good course history.

2023 Valspar Championship rankings

I've listed the top 20 here based on their total model score. I've also included the rating based on first-round strokes gained at Innisbrook in the last four years.

Overall rankings

Click header to sort; the better their position, the more the rubric likes them

1 Nunez, Augusto 1.602
2 Gordon, Will 1.448
3 Burns, Sam 1.395
4 McCarthy, Denny 1.153
5 Young, Carson 1.141
6 Knox, Russell 1.105
7 Bradley, Keegan 1.061
8 Rose, Justin 1.055
9 An, Byeong Hun 0.987
10 Stevens, Sam 0.962
11 Donald, Luke 0.96
12 Lipsky, David 0.9
13 Fitzpatrick, Matt 0.862
14 Thomas, Justin 0.831
15 Vegas, Jhonattan 0.796
16 Fleetwood, Tommy 0.795
17 Taylor, Ben 0.752
18 Taylor, Nick 0.746
19 Goya, Tano 0.72
20 Harrington, Scott 0.682

Innisbrook Copperhead first-round strokes gained the last four years

1 Lipsky, David 0.591 5.91
2 Riley, Davis 0.491 4.91
3 Dahmen, Joel 0.402 8.049
4 Burns, Sam 0.376 15.045
5 Bradley, Keegan 0.376 15.045
6 Vegas, Jhonattan 0.352 7.045
7 Redman, Doc 0.352 7.045
8 Hickok, Kramer 0.306 9.184
9 Thomas, Justin 0.302 6.045
10 Donald, Luke 0.301 12.045
11 Fitzpatrick, Matt 0.291 2.91
12 Fleetwood, Tommy 0.291 2.91
13 Sigg, Greyson 0.291 2.91
14 Lebioda, Hank 0.273 8.184
15 Kizzire, Patton 0.273 8.184
16 Kisner, Kevin 0.273 8.184
17 Cink, Stewart 0.264 7.91
18 Knox, Russell 0.251 10.045
19 Kraft, Kelly 0.226 9.045
20 Lee, K.H. 0.214 2.135

About the author


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is a scratch golfer...sometimes.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

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