Valspar Championship first-round preview and podcast information

Jason Kokrak
Jason Kokrak

Ben Coley is keen to take on Rafa Cabrera Bello in the Valspar Championship, which gets under way on Thursday morning.

After a poor run of three-ball selections, it's time for a change of approach. The working out has been good, dare I say it, but the results haven't; that is to say over 72 holes, selections are tending to perform as forecast or close to it. Over 18, specifically the first 18, that's not quite been the case.

So instead of spending Wednesday evening looking for a bet, I will spend it telling you about one I've had: Jason Kokrak to beat Rafa Cabrera Bello over 72 holes. According to Oddschecker, bet365 and Black Type offer this specific match but in the interests of broadening the potential audience, the overarching point is that Cabrera Bello should be taken on.

On the face of it, the Spaniard is in good overall form, and you only need to be able to overlook last week's missed cut at the PLAYERS Championship to set expectations fairly high. Before it, he'd been third at the Arnold Palmer and before that, he'd finished inside the top 25 in all three PGA Tour starts in 2019.

However, his long game was so bad at Sawgrass - he lost almost six shots on approach over just two rounds - that I wonder whether it really does suggest some kind of fundamental problem. Plus, the way he was putting just wasn't sustainable, not for a player who has never been among the elite with the flat stick.

It's four years since he finished 44th here on debut and if he hits the ball as he did last week, he won't better that performance. Hence, taking him on with Kokrak - a player I'd love to be on outright, and would've had the price been a little bigger - makes a great deal of appeal.

The American is playing the best golf of his life. He hasn't missed a cut in approaching a year now and continues to be among the very best ball-strikers on the circuit. The putter is a different matter altogether.

His form here at the Valspar is strong, particularly so in recent years, and his form elsewhere - including at the Heritage and Riviera - correlates particularly well. It simply looks a fantastic chance for this big-hitting winner-in-waiting to go very close to a top-level breakthrough.

Kokrak was six shots ahead of Cabrera Bello here in 2015 and is confidently expected to outperform him again. Other players who'd make a fine substitute include Russell Knox, who is pitched in with the Spaniard with Sky Bet, and outright selections Ryan Moore and Brandt Snedeker.

The other way in which to take him on involves top Spaniard, but that still leaves you with Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia. Perhaps the latter is a bet at 7/4, after Rahm's Sunday struggles and with Garcia having been both in excellent form all year, and successful here in the past.

Not Another Golf Podcast

LISTEN: The Not Another Golf Podcast
LISTEN: The Not Another Golf Podcast

As you may have seen elsewhere, on Wednesday I launched a new golf podcast alongside Alex Perry of National Club Golfer. The timing is somewhat strange, given that this is a low-key week in golf and it forced a fairly rushed afternoon recording, but our hand was somewhat forced.

A few weeks ago, Eddie Pepperell kindly agreed to speak with us after arriving home following the PLAYERS Championship. The intention was to record an interview with him largely focusing on his British Masters defence, but then he went and nearly won at Sawgrass and rather than burying the lede we'd have lost it altogether had we not focused on that.

So, episode one is out now via Soundcloud and Spotify. It will be on iTunes by the end of the week, too, and you'll be able to subscribe there and ensure you don't miss future episodes.

As for the plan going forward, we've decided not to commit to a weekly show - by the end of the first hour I was slightly worried there had been too much of both of us - and will instead pick and choose according to guests, the golf schedule and our own levels of enthusiasm.

Please do leave us a review on iTunes as soon as you can - it's the best way to get the podcast to the biggest possible audience - and of course I'd love to hear any feedback on the twitter machine.

Selections box

My selections: Snedeker, Moore, Poston, Niemann, KH Lee

Steve Palmer: Woodland, Garcia, Kokrak, Oosthuizen

Dave Tindall: Glover, Schwartzel, Hadley

Steve Rawlings: Snedeker, Scniederjans, Burns, Dufner

Niall Lyons: Kisner, Knox, Grace, Dahmen (inc. R1)

Steve Bamford: Glover, Kisner, Snedeker, Harman

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