WITH VALSPAR CHAMPIONSHIP ONE MONTH AWAY DEFENDING CHAMPION ADAM HADWIN VISITS TAMPA BAY; RORY McILROY, JAKE OWEN & DUSTIN LYNCH AMONG NEW FACES EXPECTED
Adam Hadwin is looking forward to defending a title, not just a PGA TOUR title, for the first time when he and the rest of the PGA TOUR return to Tampa Bay in one month. “I really am anticipating this year’s Valspar Championship. For one reason or another, I was never able to defend the championships I won in college, on the Canadian Tour or on the Web.com Tour,” said Hadwin who made a lunch appearance Thursday as the tournament celebrated Media Day. “It’s kind of surreal to see my image on banners and posters where I’m used to seeing greats of the game like Rory McIlroy.”
Hadwin’s day also included some batting and infield practice at the spring training home of his favorite team, the Blue Jays, golf with some Blue Jays players and an appearance at tonight’s Lightning game (with the opponent being the Canadian’s hometown team, the Vancouver Canucks).
Speaking of Rory McIlroy, the four-time Major Championship winner will be among the new names joining the Valspar Championship’s familiar roster of top PGA TOUR professionals scheduled to compete on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor the week of March 5-11.
On the entertainment front, the tournament will feature twice the country excitement with a pair of proven hitmakers in Jake Owen and Dustin Lynch at the 4th annual Valspar LIVE! concert event, after play on Saturday, March 10. Last year, the combination of PGA TOUR golf and Valspar LIVE! produced the first single day sellout in tournament history and a repeat is possible in 2018.
McIlroy and the rest of the field will be attempting to unseat Canadian Adam Hadwin as the Valspar Championship winner. Hadwin won his first PGA TOUR title last year in an exciting duel with Patrick Cantlay that was only decided on the final green (see separate bio of Hadwin).
McIlroy, a two-time PGA TOUR Player of the Year, has risen up to 8th in the Official World Golf Ranking with a pair of top three finishes in his last two starts in the Middle East. He spent 95 weeks as the world’s top-ranked player as recently as 2015. He owns four Major Championships – two PGA Championships (2012, 2014), The U.S. Open (2011) and The Open Championship (2012). He was the 2016 FedExCup champion and owns four PGA TOUR Playoff event titles, as well as two Wells Fargo Championship victories. He won PGA TOUR Player of the Year Awards in 2012 and 2014.
In addition to McIlroy, 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia returns to the Copperhead for the first time since 2013. Other newcomers on the Commitment List currently in the top 30 are Tommy Fleetwood , Ross Fisher and Matthew Fitzpatrick . Top 30 players back in the field from last year include Henrik Stenson (#13), Matt Kuchar (#19), Charley Hoffman (#23) and 2011 Valspar Championship winner Gary Woodland (#26).
The tournament will be telecast live on all four days of competition on the Golf Channel and NBC.
Away from the competition, there are some new and interesting activities, including the Valspar BLOCK PARTY behind the 18th green, featuring a collection of Tiny Homes for fans to inspect up close.
Other spectator amenities include Grape & Grain presented by Josh Cellars, a wine and spirits emporium near the 9th green, the Valspar Food Truck Rally near the 8th green and the expanded Hooters Owl’s Nest at holes 12 and 13. Other popular returning options include Chameleon Cove with a 100-ton sand sculpture (twice as big as last year), Frenchy’s Pool Party and the Michelob ULTRA 19th Hole.
Owen and Lynch are the feature acts of Valspar Live! Owen has had six No. 1 country singles off his five studio albums since 2006, most recently “American Country Love Song.” Lynch has had five singles hit number one on the American Country Airplay chart, most recently last summer’s “Small Town Boy” from his third album “Current Mood.”
The Valspar LIVE! concert is produced by the Valspar Championship in conjunction with Ruth Eckerd Hall On The Road. The primary promotional partner of the concert is iHeartMedia Tampa Bay’s US 103.5FM.
The concert appearance is part of Chick-fil-A Moooving Day, as Saturday will also be highlighted by giveaways and other promotions from Chick-fil-A as we salute the golfers making the biggest move towards the top.
Valspar Championship Week is eight days long, beginning with the Osteo Bi-Flex Made to Move Copperhead 5K on Sunday, March 4 with celebrity runners Ronde and Tiki Barber.
The Barber brothers, Ronde and Tiki, return on Monday for the Pro-Celebrity-Am in support of the International Institute for Orthotics and Prosthetics at noon. They will be joined by more than 20 other celebrities with Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Nebraska/UCF football coach Scott Frost and two members of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, TE Trey Burton and PK Jake Elliott, among the celebrities making their first appearance in the event. The Pro-Celebrity-Am is closed to the public, but open to the media.
Due to the explosive growth of the Valspar Championship, the tournament continues to expand parking options. Fans have three reasonably priced parking options – Green (power lines adjacent to course), Red (St. Petersburg College) and Silver (Carwise Middle School). A fourth lot at Palm Harbor University High School will come available on the weekend. Advance Parking is highly recommended and easily purchased at http://valsparchampionship.com/tickets/parking/. Fans using ride share services should utilize the AMC Theater on Highway 19N where free shuttles to the tournament’s main gate will be available.
Innisbrook Resort, March 5-11, 2018
A PGA TOUR, Copperhead Charities and Pro Links Sports event.