The Players Championship – TPC Sawgrass, Florida
Renowned as the “fifth major”, the PGA Tour’s flagship event gets underway this week, the Players Championship. The event has the highest prize fund in the world of golf at $10,500,000 and unsurprisingly a stellar field will be teeing it up at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday.
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The field features 46 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Rankings and the world number two, Jordan Spieth makes his first appearance since his Sunday collapse at Augusta. On the other hand, the Masters Champion, Danny Willett makes his first appearance since winning the green jacket and the Englishman can be backed at 40/1 this week. The defending champion is Rickie Fowler who shot 12 under par on his way to victory last year, but he had to beat Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner in a play-off before getting his hands on the trophy.
TPC Sawgrass has hosted the Players Championship since 1982 and the Pete Dye design will test all aspects of a player’s game this week. The course is a par 72 that measures 7,215 yards and accuracy off the tee is more important than distance. Having said that, the previous three winners have all been long(ish) drivers of the golf ball, therefore I wouldn’t put anybody off backing a big hitter who isn’t overly wayward off the tee. Finally, Sawgrass is renowned for the iconic par 3 17th hole which is surrounded by water, a total of 45 balls found the hazard last year.
Billy Horschel – Billy Horschel lives five minutes away from TPC Sawgrass if my notes are correct and the entertaining American is ready to win again after a winless 2015. Horschel has had a relatively good season thus far, he’s made his last eleven consecutive cuts and has recorded three top 10’s in that stretch. That also includes a tie for 4th place in Texas not so long ago, therefore we can conclude that Horschel’s games in good shape. As I’ve already mentioned, Billy lives nearby this week’s venue and it’s not surprising to see that he’s played well here in recent years. He tied for 13th and 26th around TPC Sawgrass in 2014 and 2015 and at 66/1, he’s a great bet this week in my opinion.
Chris Kirk – Four time PGA Tour winner, Chris Kirk is an obvious selection for me this week at 80/1-90/1. His game appears to be coming around nicely ahead of an event that he’s capable of winning. In Kirk’s last six starts, he’s recorded four top 15 finishes and that includes a 5th place finish in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago. The 31-year-old has a good record at Sawgrass, he’s made his last four cuts here and has tied for 13th in his previous two visits to the golf course.
Russell Henley – Finally we have Russell Henley who I’m a big fan of and odds of 125/1-150/1 appear to be far too big for a player of his ability. His form this year has been slightly inconsistent, however he’s produced some good performances over the last month or two and is very capable of competing in this strong field. The Georgia Tech alum has two PGA Tour wins to his name and third isn’t out of the question around a course that suits his game, TPC Sawgrass. He’s a relatively long and accurate driver of the golf ball and this is a big advantage around this week’s venue in my opinion. Unsurprisingly, Henley has recorded two top 25 finishes in his three visits to TPC Sawgrass and the American could cause a small upset this week.
Prices correct at time of writing.