THE Players Championship is one of the key events in the golf calendar. Our man Louis Ross (@KingLouis2105) tells us who to back.
The Players Championship | Thursday – Sunday | Sky Sports
If you are the type of golf fan who normally only watches the Majors or the odd tournament on a Sunday night when nothing else is on, please please please watch this one. The Masters is an amazing event, as a golf tournament, this is better. I promise.
TPC Sawgrass is an incredible course. Par 72 at 7,215 yards this classic Stadium Course really is different to everything else on tour. I won’t give you chapter and verse on each hole but if you have played any of the Tiger Woods games on Playstation etc, this was always THE course.
There is only one hole you really need to know about and that is the iconic Par 3 17th. The Island hole is a simple little 132 yards. A pitching wedge for most pros. Easy then? Er, no. This little green is surrounded by water and it just gets into players heads. I once saw 28 balls go in the water in the last round alone. If this is close on Sunday, the 17th could well decide things. Sawgrass is close to Florida’s Atlantic Coast and the wind will play a part.
Whilst we are on weather watch, this part of Florida has not seen a huge amount of rain recently. Unlike the last six weeks, we will not see soft greens and ridiculously low scoring. Expect some between -10 and -13 to win this.
There are plenty of hazards on this course. Water is in play a lot and this is the type of course where you just have to hit fairways. Not only hit them, but in the right places. A little like Augusta in that respect. Also like Augusta, some course experience is normally a requirement. Jordan Speith went 2nd, 1st on his first two starts at The Masters. He was 4th on debut here last year.
So ball striking and accuracy is crucial here. Who has just started to strike and shape the ball beautifully? Rory McIllroy that’s who. I admitted in my Masters piece here that I had a problem with Mr McIlroy and never backed him. Well that rule applies until I get to the point where I can’t see another winner. The man is back in form.
He won the WGC World Matchplay on Sunday, and ok, he got very lucky against our 45/1 pick Paul Casey, winning on the 22nd after being outplayed but apart from that, he was brilliant.
I would be shouting about a 7/1 shot in any other sport, and yes it’s short when trying to pick a winner from 120 odd players but you won’t see Rory this big very often. He’s about to win a few. I think this is the first. If you like Speith instead, I wouldn’t disagree too much. I just think Rory likes this place and he also seems confident he’s figured out the setup. That will do for me.
My each way pick was more difficult. I really like Hideki Matsuyama. He fits the bill in an awful lot of ways. I like the fact he has an early draw on Thursday and could get away to a reasonably quick start. It was between him and Zach Johnson. One of those oh so reliable and unusually likeable American golfers, I like what I see from Zach recently. With Skybet paying 7 places 50/1 on Zach seems a little bit big.
Jimmy Walker was Number 1 in the FedEx Cup until he hurt his wrist in the 1st round at Augusta. He has already won a couple of times this season and I was astounded to see 7/2 on a Top 10 finish.
Instead, I will go back to course form and again break a rule on someone I rarely bet. Lee Westwood has had three Top 10 finishes in his last five starts at Sawgrass. He’s in form, hits the ball tee to green as well as anyone and I think 9/2 for a Top 10 is huge value.
I’m going to return to an old favourite who has paid out before in the Top 20 market. Kevin Streelman was second here in 2013, finished in the top 15 at Augusta and 13/2 for a Top 20 with Betfred is very attractive.
Finally, the First Round Leader market, and to a couple of players that have got a mention here once or twice. Ben Martin and Morgan Hoffman are amongst this current group of seemingly endless young American talents. Both huge odds, Hoffman is 66/1 at Stan James but it was the 100/1 on offer at Skybet that caught my eye.
The Players Championship – Rory McIlroy to win (7/1 Bet365)
The Players Championship – Zach Johnson each way (50/1 Skybet)
The Players Championship – Lee Westwood Top 10 Finish (9/2 888 Sport)
The Players Championship – Kevin Streelman Top 20 Finish (13/2 Betfred)
The Players Championship – Morgan Hoffman 1st Round Leader (100/1 888 Sport)
Our man Louis fancies Rory and you can back him at 5/1 to finish in the Top 10 with Betway.
Just join and you’ll get the 5/1.