PALM HARBOR — The official Media Day for the 2022 Valspar Championship is set for Monday, Feb. 28, on the grounds of the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor.
But tournament officials are so excited about the event, which is returning to its traditional March calendar spot with full attendance and a star-studded field, they decided to host a virtual media day soon after the New Year to help get the word out.
Coming off a 2021 tourney that saw a reduced fan capacity and other pandemic-related restrictions, it’s easy to understand why Valspar Tournament Director Tracy West and Innisbrook Managing Director Mike Williams, among others, are eager to trumpet this year’s event. The tournament kicks off on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, and already has early commitments from top pros including Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Bubba Watson, plus defending champion Sam Burns. It will also see the return of the popular Valspar Live Concert Series on Saturday night featuring country music superstars Chris Young and Big & Rich.
Also, there won’t be any attendance restrictions like mask requirements or proof of vaccination status, according to West.
“We’re really trying to bring the tournament back to as normal as possible,” West said during the hourlong virtual media Zoom session Jan. 11, adding, “we’re bigger and we’re better and I think people are really excited to get back out and entertain.”
Indeed, in addition to the return of the concert, which is free to fans who hold Saturday tickets, there will be several new fan lounges, expos and hospitality areas, including a Captain Morgan bar and a wine bar, as well as returning favorites like the Hooters Owl’s Nest and the Military Appreciation tent.
Other fun activities and amenities include a new Facebook Live show, “Inside the Snake Pit,” to be shot on site every tournament day; a costume contest on St. Patrick’s Day and Champa Bay Day on Sunday, where fans are encouraged to wear Bucs, Rays and Lightning gear; and a new digital app that provides greater connectivity to, and more information about, the 2022 Valspar Championship. But perhaps the biggest difference this year is the switch from an early May time slot last year back to mid-March, an advantageous spot on the PGA Tour calendar that puts the Valspar Championship in the thick of what’s known on tour as the “Florida swing.”
“We’re so glad to be back in the March swing and the Florida swing,” Williams said, noting the resort as a whole and the Copperhead Course specifically is “in phenomenal shape,” adding all the rooms have been recently remodeled, including the conference room, which has been painted in “Valspar Blue.”
When asked, West said the switch back to March was precipitated by the PGA Tour and involved a former World Golf Championship event that was held in Mexico.
“Several years ago, the tour asked if we’d be the one that flip-flopped dates, and we said yes,” she said, noting they were originally supposed to host the Valspar in May in 2021, 2022 and 2023, then switch back to March. “But since Mexico is no longer a WGC event, the tour was able to put the Florida swing back together, so we will be in March for the foreseeable future.”
West noted they like being back in March for several reasons, including the condition of the course, the (typically) cooler weather and the fact that the tournament coincides with St. Patrick’s Day weekend, a festive time full of fun, outdoor activities. And for 2022, she said the Valspar Championship is all about fun.
“I think you have seen over the years since Valspar became the title sponsor in 2014, this tournament has changed dramatically when it comes to the fun factor,” West said to close the session. “We’re an event. We’re a happening now. So, in our opinion we’re always going to have a solid field, but people want to come to this tournament because not only do they know they’re going to see great golfers, but for the fun, the family fun, that’s here.”
For more information on the 2022 Valspar Championship, including ticket prices and packages, visit valsparchampionship.com.