Valspar Championship Returns in 2021 With Limited Attendance
By Dave Daubert
Dustin Johnson, the defending Masters champion and number one in the Official World Golf Ranking, and Brooks Koepka, winner of four Major Championships since 2017, head the early list of committed players who will try to deny Paul Casey a third straight victory when the PGA TOUR's Valspar Championship returns to the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort after a one-year absence. This year's tournament will be seven weeks later than in recent years, with the competition rounds scheduled for April 29-May 2.
A significant number of Tampa Bay golf fans will be able to watch the action, although attendance will be limited by COVID-19 protocols. Limited public grounds tickets will go on sale through Ticketmaster on Monday, March 25 at noon. Hooters will have limited tickets for the Owl's Nest at the 12th hole on sale in their area restaurants in early April.
The PGA TOUR has authorized limited attendance for the tournament similar to the galleries permitted at other events to be held in Florida in March - the Arnold Palmer Invitational, THE PLAYERS and the Honda Classic.
"We have a limited number of tickets for each day and we will not be selling any good-any-day tickets," says Tournament Director Tracy West. "We expect tickets will sell out relatively quickly, so fans are encouraged to be ready for the on-sale on the 25th."
The tournament will be conducted with extensive health and safety protocols for everyone - players, caddies, volunteers and spectators - on the course.
"The focus this year will be concentrated on the golf competition, but we will have many of our favorite concession and hospitality locations" says West. " Fans will be required to wear masks at all times unless seated eating or drinking in designated areas; and take a temperature check upon entering the course. Attendees will have the opportunity to spread out across the hundreds of acres on the Copperhead."
Casey scored a pair of one-shot victories in 2018 and 2019 and has maintained a strong form since, including a recent European Tour victory at the Dubai Desert Classic, that puts him 16th in the current OWGR.
Johnson has won four times since the resumption of play last summer including a record-setting performance at the 2020 Masters. Koepka, now ranked 12th in the OWGR, recently won the Waste Management Phoenix Open for his 8th PGA TOUR title. Other top names among the early commitments to the tournament include Bubba Watson, Jason Kokrak, Stewart Cink and Brandt Snedeker.
Saturday will be Derby Attire and Hat Day. All fans are encouraged to wear clothes suitable for attending the Big Race - and at the conclusion of play, the best outfits will gather at the 18th green for a judging with the big prize being two round trip Delta Air Lines tickets to Kentucky or elsewhere in the U.S. There also could be a component to this contest that will allow virtual contestants to participate on our LED board. The Derby telecast will follow the contest.
Then on Sunday, we will celebrate our local title winners with Champa Bay Day. All fans will be encouraged to wear their favorite Tampa Bay champion team gear.
When the 2021 Valspar champion is crowned, representatives from among our pro sports teams will be integrated into the ceremony at the 18th green.
FUN IN THE SUN
The pros have told us they enjoy the different feel of tournament week since 2018 during their "Spring Break." Although our new date may be closer to Summer Break than Spring at most schools, we will continue the initiative of encouraging player nicknames or social handles on the back of caddie vests.
WOMEN OF COLOR GOLF
The Valspar Championship nominated the 2020 PGA TOUR Charity of the Year, Women of Color Golf, and PGA TOUR Entertainment will create a 30-second vignette on their announcement. Keep an eye out for footage from the March launch of their affiliate program for high school-aged female golfers, Girls On The Green Tee.
In order to foster engagement with our fans, actual and off-course, the Valspar Championship will be creating Inside The Snake Pit, a show airing on Facebook every morning from Thursday to Monday during the tournament. Interviews, insider discussions and celebrity appearances are just a few of the features planned for the show. The show will be hosted by PGA TOUR Sirius XM Radio host Carl Paulson.
WATCH EVENT AT TOPGOLF
Another initiative for our remote fans will be a Valspar Championship Watch Event from 3 to 6 pm on Saturday, May 1. Fans will be chosen on social media to receive a hitting bay at Topgolf Tampa. With up to five guests per winner, those fans will gather to hit balls, watch the action at Innisbrook and eat complimentary food.
We are continuing our longstanding partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco. Once again, our goal is to raise $50,000 to fund a Valspar Championship - Copperhead Charities home to be built this fall. We are working on an initiative for our fans to become more directly involved.
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Revised: 03/03/2021 - Article Viewed 13,644 Times
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About: Dave Daubert
David has been writing about golf since the turn of the century. He was Managing Editor at a regional golf magazine for 11 years, published in Canada, the IAGTO and a Staff Writer for The Georgia Golf Trail. His insightful perspective brings golf to life.