Sungjae Im, of South Korea, is one of Mike Kern's picks to seal the deal at the Valspar Championship.
Sungjae Im, of South Korea, is one of Mike Kern's picks to seal the deal at the Valspar Championship.Rogelio V. Solis | Associated Press Photo

Bet the PGA's Valspar Championship: red hot Kern likes Patrick Reed, Sungjae Im, Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Na

The Valspar Championship, the last of the Florida PGA stops, starts Thursday morning.

Last week we had our second winner in the last month, as Marc Leishman and Cam Smith teamed up to win the Zurich Classic in New Orleans. They paid off at 11-1. We also got back 5-1 when Billy Horschel and Sam Burns tied for fourth. So not too bad. Hey, we try. Let’s hope we can keep the good times rolling.

Now it’s the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook near Tampa, the last tournament in Florida this season. It’s played on the Copperhead Course, which I’ve played. It’s a layout that favors accuracy more than distance. So there.

The two best players on the food chain, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, are both 10-1, though it should be noted that DJ hasn’t been playing as well lately. It happens. And he’s +275 to get a top five, which seems like a decent return if he plays like he can. But I wouldn’t necessarily go that way. You know how I feel about chalk.

Corey Conners, who has been playing well, is 16-1. As is Patrick Reed, who has two seconds and a tie for seventh here. And he has two top 10s in his last two starts, with one of them coming at the Masters and the other at the WGC. Paul Casey is 20-1. He is my choice in the yearlong pool that I have to pick back in December. He has won the last two events held here. Last year it was cancelled due to the pandemic. Each time he won by one, which still counts. So what are the chances of him making it a three-peat, especially since I’ll be rooting for him? Thought so.

Anyway, Viktor Hovland is also 20-1. He’s been on a lot of leaderboards lately. Sungjae Im is 22-1. He plays well in Florida, having won the Honda Classic, and he tied for fourth here two years ago. Scottie Scheffler is 25-1. Abraham Ancer, Russell Henley and Justin Rose are 28-1.

Louis Oosthuizen is 33-1. He lost in a playoff last week paired with Charl Schwartzel, and has been 7th, 16th and second in his last three trips here. Some other names of note: Bubba Watson is 50-1, Kevin Na is 55-1 and Sam Burns 66-1. Na is one of five golfers to have a win in each of the last four seasons. That’s something. In 55 starts. He has a 10th and a second here. A lot of folks seem to like Doug Ghim as a longshot at 90-1. And for whatever it’s worth at this point, Phil Mickelson is 150-1.

OK, I can’t take Casey or the two faves, but feel free. Among the blokes near the top I would lean toward Patrick Reed, for his track record here and his current form. He’s also +450 for a top five, which is worth an insurance investment for sure. I also like Sungjae Im, at a little higher odds. And he’s +550 for a top five, so the same strategy applies.

Among those at even higher numbers, I think Louis Oosthuizen could be worth a few bucks. He’s also +550 for a top five, even though I’m having a problem understanding why he’s the same as Im despite being 33-1 instead of 22-1 to lift a trophy. I’ll let you try and sort that out. I might also take a look at Kevin Na, at 55-1 and 11-1 for a top five (and maybe even half that for a top 10.

So there you have it. Keep those good cashing vibes going.

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