EXTRA VALUE FOR THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP!
TPC Sawgrass A Big Challenge
While ‘course form’ is always imperative, Sawgrass is immensely challenging, and to have consistent form here is near impossible, so it’s a less scrutinous ‘course experience’ that can help pick a winner from this week, as six of the last seven winners had played at the event at least five times before, with Rory McIlroy’s 2019 win coming at his 10th attempt.
Dustin Johnson tends to go well here, making every cut he’s started since 2009, and his form shows he’s on a different plane to most of the players in the sport at the moment.
He’s made the top-12 in eleven of his 12 events across all tours since the beginning of August and finishing in the top three of half of those so it’s no surprise he goes off as favourite here.
However, considering the strength in the field and how weak he was at the Workday just a fortnight ago, we’ll steer clear of the world number one for the time being.
Players Championship Betting Tips
Hideki Matsuyama 33/1
Our first pick comes off the back of his first-round performance last year, and Hideki Matsuyama (33/1) will have felt aggrieved that his 63 was in vain so if he can channel that into his game this week, he’ll certainly go well.
We’ve mentioned how difficult it is to have consistency around this course and perfection is near impossible to find around Sawgrass, though if any player has shown pedigree here it’s Matsuyama.
The 29-year-old has five top-25 finishes from his six starts here which is as consistent as you’re going to find in this field, and a key contributor to that has been his iron play, where he’s found at least 65% of the greens in regulation in each of his last five visits, which around here is impressive.
His putter has been his main source of woe in recent years, though there are signs that he can handle the greens around here.
Indeed, not only has his Strokes Gained: Putting metric improved this season from -0.47 to -0.28, when at Sawgrass he’s actually managed to gain an average of 1.34 strokes on the green across his five made cuts, and at the prices he looks well worth getting behind on a course he loves.
Jason Day 45/1
Our next pick is a player who, although placings are going in the opposite direction, looks to be improving week on week and that man is Jason Day (45/1).
The Aussie has spoken of how fit he feels and how confident he is in his current game as he looks to build some momentum for the season.
His all-round game was tremendous at Bay Hill last week, and he was right up in the mix before a poor final day dropped him all the way back to a tie for 31st, though he’ll certainly look at the week positively having played some of his best golf of the season.
What he lacks right now is some consistency across all four rounds of a tournament, though that’s part of the package when you change coach and clubs, and it won’t be long before he starts stringing everything together.
By his own admission he’s still a tad away from winning, though we’d view that more as a pressure easing comment so he can go about his business without expectation.
As a previous winner here and a further three time top-10 finisher, there’s little doubt he know how to approach this course and with signs that he could start to claw his way back toward the top of the game, he should be full of confidence heading into an event he loves, and that’s a serious recipe for success in our eyes.
Sergio Garcia 66/1
In what is a vast field, it seems naïve to just pick out two players to go well, especially considering the generous each way places on offer. There are some seriously good players toward the top of the market such as Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, to name a few.
Though the former two are too inexperienced at Sawgrass for our liking, while McIlroy hasn’t had much of a rest lately, which looked to show last weekend at Bay Hill, so all are too short for us.
It’s on that basis of inexperience that we can’t bring ourselves to get behind the very talented Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa either, so it’s a seasoned pro that gets our backing here.
As mentioned, strong pedigree is difficult to come by here and since 2004, of the 70 players in this field to have played at least five times at Sawgrass, only two have made every cut.
One of those players in Branden Grace who is looking for a first top-40 finish here at his seventh attempt. The other is former winner and six time top-10 finisher Sergio Garcia (66/1).
The Spaniard is nowhere near finished and if his tee-to-green play is anything to go by, he’s poised for a big week soon. With this event being moved from May to March again, the course is playing longer and softer than in years gone by, benefitting those with a big carry off the tee.
Garcia is one of just 12 players on the tour this year to be averaging more than 310 yards on their drives, while he’s also hit over 70% of his greens this year.
Like Matsuyama, his putting is a cause for concern and was a real thorn in his side at Bay Hill last week where he was one of the best ball strikers, though his course knowledge should land him in really good stead heading into this so at a long price he’s worth a small flutter.