Spieth highlights Valspar subject, with many combating for Masters spot

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Innisbrook and Bay Hill are separated by 100 miles on the street, two weeks on the PGA Tour calendar and $11.6 million in prize cash. One other massive distinction is perhaps the dimensions of the sphere.

The Valspar Championship begins Thursday with 154 gamers. That’s probably the most ever for the Copperhead course at Innisbrook, that means there most definitely received’t be sufficient daylight to complete weekday rounds in in the future, rain or shine.

That’s fairly a distinction from two weeks in the past on the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a signature occasion with a $20 million purse that had solely 69 gamers and made Bay Hill really feel like a ghost city throughout early apply.

“It’s extremely much less environment friendly working towards right here than it was at Bay Hill, might be the largest distinction I see,” Jordan Spieth stated Wednesday with a smile, his golf bag squeezed between two others on the vary at Innisbrook.

“A part of that being that I used to be overseas after which had a photograph shoot the subsequent morning,” he stated. “And a part of it being 155 gamers and a small vary.”

Spieth was among the many six participant administrators on the PGA Tour Enterprises board who met Monday within the Bahamas with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the Public Funding Fund of Saudi Arabia that pays for LIV Golf.

He referred to as the assembly “good” with out going into element, describing it solely as a “actually good meet-and-greet to ask questions and get understanding and see the place we go for step one.”

It was the specter of LIV Golf, which has lured away massive names like Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, that led to the PGA Tour creating $20 million occasions that might carry collectively the very best within the PGA Tour.

Woods and different participant administrators can be assembly PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan for the primary time, in keeping with Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis.

The restricted fields led to different gamers going to tournaments in between with hopes of incomes a few of the 15 spots obtainable at signature occasions. And whereas it’s early within the season, that has put the squeeze on PGA Tour newcomers — primarily graduates from the Korn Ferry Tour — who’re making an attempt to get into extra tournaments.

The response was to spice up the Valspar Championship subject past its regular 144 gamers, elevating it to ensure everybody from the Korn Ferry Tour may play. That introduced the quantity to 155 — it went down by one when Garrick Higgo withdrew — creating one other unusual factor to the week.

There’s an alternate record, however none get in until the sphere will get under 144 gamers. Sometimes, somebody would have changed Higgo. However that is all about creating spots.

“The state of affairs isn’t good, however folks want to recollect why it was performed,” Spieth stated.

Justin Thomas isn’t certain what the answer is to create vital occasions for the highest performers whereas not shutting out gamers decrease on the precedence record who aren’t getting sufficient possibilities.

“It’s what the reply must be proper now,” he stated. “However not long run, I wouldn’t assume.”

The Valspar Championship has attracted a fairly good subject contemplating it follows the $20 million purse at Bay Hill for 69 gamers and the $25 million purse at The Gamers Championship.

Xander Schauffele and Open champion Brian Harman, who tied for second final week on the TPC Sawgrass, are the one gamers from the highest 10 on this planet at Innisbrook. However there’s additionally 10 extra from the highest 30, an inventory that features Spieth and Thomas, two-time winner Sam Burns, Tony Finau and Cameron Younger.

For Schauffele, it’s a time to get again on the horse.

“After an in depth name final week, generally it’s good simply to get again to work and type of put your head down and take a look at to determine a brand new golf course,” he stated. “So pleased to be right here.”

Three tournaments stay till the Masters, and 130 gamers at Innisbrook may get that invitation on Augusta Nationwide letterhead by profitable. Alternative abounds.

For many of them, the Copperhead course is considered among the many greatest within the South, definitely on the Florida swing, with its tree-lined fairways and elevation.

Spieth stated gamers wouldn’t say it was underrated as a result of “they’d all fee it fairly excessive.”

He has his personal particular reminiscences from the Valspar Championship. Sure, there was the playoff victory in 2015 earlier than he went on a tear within the majors, profitable the Masters and U.S. Open. Extra vivid is chipping in on the seventeenth gap, ending in a tie for seventh in 2013 that led to him getting a PGA Tour card at age 20.

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