The week after another big odds winner on the PGA tour (Derek Ernst was 500/1 for last week’s Wells Fargo Championship!!) it’s time for the unofficial fifth major this weekend, The Players Championship at the fabulous TPC Sawgrass. A stellar field has once again assembled Woods, Mickelson and Mcilroy and the majority of the world’s top 50 in attendance, this makes another surprise winner less likely, but if this season has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected.
The stadium course at TPC Sawgrass was constructed specifically to become the permanent home of The Players Championship, created by Pete Dye the course was designed to be a balanced test not particularly favouring any type of player. The 7,215 yard course has a mixture of left to right and right to left doglegs, a mixture of short and long Par 5’s and 4’s and then you have the infamous 17th island hole, another feature of the course is that no two consecutive holes play in the same direction. These features ensure a comprehensive test of the players overall game; past winners here tend to have experience of the course and very few weaknesses in their game. With heavy rain last week the course may be a little damper than usual, the winner here normally avoids mistakes and grinds the opposition down, rather than dominating with birdie after birdie.
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Luke Donald – 22/1 EW
Two top 5’s in his last 4 outings on the PGA tour and an excellent record at Sawgrass, finishing 4th in 2011 and 6th in 2012. Donald has a majestic short game and although he is ranked by his standards a lowly 48th in Strokes gained putting in tour this year, he is still ranked an excellent 17th in scrambling and his course knowledge will count for plenty on this track. Has taken a couple of weeks off after his 3rd place at Hilton Head, another tight course where Luke’s iron play and short game helped him to the top of the leader board; not many players work harder than Donald; and with just a very slight improvement to overall game could very possibly yield a win here.
Matt Kuchar– 33/1 EW
Another super consistent season is underway by Kuchar, Top 10 at the Masters, a win in the WGC Matchplay and 2 other top 10’s in stroke play events show his methodical approach is once again paying dividends. The defending champ here is coming off a couple of weeks off, he should be refreshed and fully capable of defending his title, ranked a lowly 109th in GIR but an excellent 7th in scrambling and 34th in strokes gained putting, generous price for the defending champ who has a win already this season.
Henrik Stenson– 50/1 EW
No1 in total driving, GIR and therefore unsurprisingly also in Ball Striking this season to date, Stenson is returning to the scene of perhaps his biggest win back when he won the Players championship in 2009, he also has two other Top 10’s here. Missed the cut last week but that was his first event back after 3 weeks off, I am happy to put that down to a little rust – 2 top 10’s this season to date will mean he will carry in plenty of confidence onto a course he enjoys, this is surely the time for him to capitalise on his great ball striking this season.
Zach Johnson – 66/1 EW
Finished last week with a pair of horrible 77’s, but Zach is experienced enough not to let that effect him too much coming into this event, where he has finished top 25 in the past 3 seasons straight, including being runner up to Kuchar last year. Perfectly capable of plotting his way around and avoiding mistakes, this is a good layout for Zach, his current form is far from stellar but he is an excellent runner on this course, at a generous price.
Boo Weekley- 100/1 EW
An excellent return to form by Weekley this season has culminated in three Top 10’s to date, he has two wins a Harbour town which is another layout with small greens, so it is a little surprising that his record is not better here. At 100/1 he is worth an EW shot here, a great ball striker who is clearly enjoying a return to form, as usual it is his putting that lets him down; but with ball striking like his he just needs an above average rather than stunning week with the putter to place.
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