The Players Championship 2013

The calendar seems to fly by at this part of the season, only just has the Masters finished and now we’re off to the tournament known as golf’s 5th Major, The Players Championship. This is certainly a trophy everyone in the field will want in their cabinets. It will be really interesting to see how the big stars perform this week, with most of them having pretty poor form here over the past few years. Rory Mcilroy has never made a cut here while Tiger has only 1 top 10 here since his win back in 2001!

The iconic 17th at TPC Sawgrass

The iconic 17th at TPC Sawgrass

Played at the famous TPC Sawgrass, this is without doubt one of the toughest courses on the tour and will examine every part of your game. Being the Stadium course, expect there to be a great atmosphere this week, especially on the signature 17th island hole. This is a real beauty from course designer Pete Dye. His courses are very tricky and golfers who get to grips with his many courses will have a chance around here this week. PGA Tour has released an interesting article on who has performed well on Pete Dye courses. You will see our picks this week have all made their way onto it.

http://www.pgatour.com/news/2012/08/07/dye-courses-best-players.html

Sawgrass plays 7,215 and although it is fairly long, driving it far does not seem to help round here. The ‘ball strikers’ out there have prevailed over the past few years. Green in regulation, driving accuracy and most importantly scrambling will be key this week. The shots will be picked up around the greens. Getting up and down is vital. The rain has been hard on the course for a few weeks now, which will make the course a little easier and again favor the accurate players out there.

It is also interesting to know that only 2 players have ever won here more than once, which shows what a test it is. Despite this, course experience will be crucial as it is definitely one you need to learn your way around. Kuchar, Choi, Clark, Garcia and Mickelson have all played 8 times or more around here before claiming their titles.

Most bookmakers are paying 6 places this week too, so be sure to get involved on that.

Luke Donald (20/1 Paddy Power)

Luke's short game will prove vital this week

Luke’s short game will prove vital this week

This is the first time we have backed Luke Donald this year and he is arguably the only ‘big name’ this week that has had really consistent finishes over the past few years. His record here reads 6th, 4th, 26th, 37th, 27th and 16th. With finishes like that, it does appear Donald has cracked this course and all he needs is that elusive win. The Englishman ranks 14th in stroke average around Pete Dye courses which shows his game suits these courses, with putting especially excelling on the Bermuda Greens. His current form is not bad either, even though his name has not been branded about as much as it was last year. Luke has 3 top six finishes in his last 8 tournaments and his last appearance was a 3rd in the RBC Heritage where he definitely looked in great shape. Even without looking at statistics, we all know Luke’s short game is incredible and we have already stated how important scrambling will be. He is in fact 17th on the PGA Tour in scrambling in 2013. It’s a shame to think he might not win a major, but with a major title still eluding him, these are the events Luke will want to prove himself in.

Last 7 ‘Big Tournament’ Performances 

The Masters WGC Cadillac WGC Matchplay PGA Champs WGC Bridgestone The Open U.S Open
T25 T43 R32 T32 T8 T5 MC

 Last 5 Pete Dye Course Performances

Zurich Classic RBC Heritage BMW Champs PGA Champs Players Champs
T3 T28 T32 6

Jason Day (45/1 Stan James)

After his performance at Augusta, can he find that elusive win?

After his performance at Augusta, can he find that elusive win?

How Jason Day has not claimed one of the `big´ tournament victories yet is beyond remarkable.  His record in the majors and WGC events are outstanding and it is only a short matter of time before he finally earns a rightful place as one of the top, top players.  He has come 2nd at both The Masters and US Open, whilst also finishing at 4th at the Bridgestone Invitational in 2011.  And this year he has really pushed on once again, not missing a cut all season, finding 3 top 10s and his performances in the 3 big tournaments have been superb.  T3 at Augusta a few weeks ago, where he played incredible golf but for a poor few holes on Saturday, he could have easily won and in the WGC Matchplay he breezed into the Quarter-Finals only to come up against a supreme Matt Kuchar, eventually finishing 3rd.  Finally, in the WGC Cadillac, he finished a respectable T33 and when you think he shot a 74 and 75 that is impressive.  Bare in mind Day is only 25, for him to be achieving what he has is a major sign that this is a guy on the verge of a big success and as Kuchar did last year, winning The Players would the most obvious progression.  He has come 6th at Sawgrass as well, not shooting over par in the four rounds in 2011, which proves he can adapt to the challenge it requires.  When he is playing to the top of his ability, his ball striking is formidable and he can hit it very far.  30th for total driving and 14th for driving distance could be lethal on this course, but he must hit it straight.  He has shown how he can play from the rough when he is a bit wayward, 26th in GIR from other than fairway and 24th in scrambling, whilst his bunker play at Augusta proved to the world his ability from the beaches. He is currently 4th in sand save % and when the ball is finally on the dance floor, his putting is up there with the best, 25th in strokes gained putting and 33rd for birdie or better conversion.  The Australian has all the attributes to have another big week and this really could be the one he finally wins..

Last 7 ‘Big Tournament’ Performances 

The Masters WGC Cadillac WGC Matchplay PGA Champs WGC Bridgestone The Open U.S Open
3 T33 3 MC T29 T59

Last 5 Pete Dye Course Performances

Zurich Classic RBC Heritage BMW Champs PGA Champs Players Champs
T30 MC MC

Lee Westwood (25/ Various)

Please putt well this week Lee. Please!

Please putt well this week Lee. Please!

We know very well that we are the ones who have said on a number of occasions, do not back Westwood.  It is a painful week when you watch him get on the green, most likely for 2 and then putt his way to a double bogey.  But something just feels very different coming into The Players, this is a man who has shown he is on a mission.  Moving to America could be thought of as a desperate attempt in his last chance saloon, but if you have been watching the Englishman closely, there is evidence something is changing.  Remarkably his putting has actually been a lot better and his irons have let him down!  He was T8 at The Masters this year and produced relatively consistent golf but it is his record in all the big tournaments that make you realise it is a joke he has not won any yet.  His best finish in every major, WGC and Players is no worse than 4th… And with ball striking needed to win here, an in-form Westwood has to be in with a shout to finally get one of the big ones. Surely.  10th in total driving, 42nd in driving accuracy, 8th in scrambling, 8th in sand save % and even more remarkably 52nd in 3-putt avoidance (where he didn’t 3 putt at Augusta all week!) point towards the Englishman getting himself up the leaderboard.  Whilst he is currently one of the form men in golf, recording 3 top 10s in a row and in 4 out of his last 6. That move to States may not have brought him The Masters but could it bring the Players? Come on Lee, what a story it would be!

Last 7 ‘Big Tournament’ Performances 

The Masters WGC Cadillac WGC Matchplay PGA Champs WGC Bridgestone The Open U.S Open
T8 T25 R64 MC 70 T45 T10

 Last 5 Pete Dye Course Performances

Zurich Classic RBC Heritage BMW Champs PGA Champs Players Champs
T2 MC T61

Bo Van Pelt (50/1 Various)

Go Bo!

Go Bo!

With a lot of the bigger names less fancied this week, it is people like Van Pelt who have a real opportunity. He has started to hit a bit of form and his 6th last week in the Wells Fargo was his first top 10 of the season. He was 13th in total driving and 12th in strokes gained putting for the week, which is promising. When Bo plays well here, he is a one who will always get you a top 10. 7th last year, 4th in 2010 and 8th in 2006 are some of his impressive finishes. It appears he has definitely peaked at the right time for this, 20th at Augusta cannot be overlooked. Bo has a record of playing well around similar courses; the American is sitting 4th in the Pete Dye course stroke averages. He is traditionally a slow starter to the season and he will be looking to kick start his year with a very good run here.

Last 7 ‘Big Tournament’ Performances 

The Masters WGC Cadillac WGC Matchplay PGA Champs WGC Bridgestone The Open U.S Open
T20 T39 R32 T18 T8 MC T59

 Last 5 Pete Dye Course Performances

Zurich Classic RBC Heritage BMW Champs PGA Champs Players Champs
MDF T10 T18 T7

Zach Johnson (70/1 Stan James)

Hoping for a Hollywood performance from Zach this week

Hoping for a Hollywood performance from Zach this week

You can see a bit of a trend with the players we are picking, and Johnson caps it off for us. Accurate players who are not the longest off the tee. The American caught our eye last week in the first couple of rounds at the Wells Fargo. He tailed off on the final two days but initially his short game looked back to its best and his accuracy was there for all to see. Current form is the only thing that would put you off Johnson but he has been playing some good stuff, so don’t let that worry you. His course form on the other hand is one of the best in the field and it’s why we can’t ignore him. 2nd, 12th, 22nd, 32nd, MC, 16th have been his last few performances at Sawgrass. Course form will be a huge factor this week. The Masters win in 07’ proves how his length off the tee does not affect him and we feel really confident backing someone who relies on accuracy, around this course. Zach also ranks 13th in Pete Dye scoring average, so his ability on these courses cannot be questioned. He also looks like Joaquin Phoenix, which helps…

Last 7 ‘Big Tournament’ Performances 

The Masters WGC Cadillac WGC Matchplay PGA Champs WGC Bridgestone The Open U.S Open
T35 T47 R64 70 T40 T9 T41

 Last 5 Pete Dye Course Performances

Zurich Classic RBC Heritage BMW Champs PGA Champs Players Champs
T48 T12 70 T2

Fredrik Jacobson (125/1 StanJames)

A great outside bet this week

A great outside bet this week

The big Swede has caught our attention many times this season, fast becoming one of our favourite golfers on tour.  His charisma and calmness on the greens is a joy to watch and you are always confident that if he can drive well, the rest of his game will fall into place.  15th in proximity to the hole and 8th in par 4 performance will stand him in good stead but his putting is where the stats shout out at you.  4th in strokes gained putting, 13th birdie or better conversion, 4th total putting and 47th for 3-putt avoidance.  The man LOVES  his short stick.  Whilst his form has certainly been impressive this season, finishing no lower than 25th in his last 7 tournaments, including 3 top 10s.  He is another one of these `top´ players who is yet to win one of the flagship tournaments, but he has shown talent on Pete Dye courses.  10th here in 2010 and won at River Highlands in 2011, so when you think his odds are as high as 125/1 it would be foolish not to get involved.

Last 7 ‘Big Tournament’ Performances 

The Masters WGC Cadillac WGC Matchplay PGA Champs WGC Bridgestone The Open U.S Open
T25 T16 R16 T36 T50 T54 T15

 Last 5 Pete Dye Course Performances

Zurich Classic RBC Heritage BMW Champs PGA Champs Players Champs
T32 MC

Special mention must go to Stewart Cink at 135/1, who was incredibly close to getting our 6th and final pick.  Considering his fall from grace for several years, the American has started playing the sort of golf that propelled him inside the top 10 in the word.  He also has the 2nd most wins, (4) 6th for stroke average and 13th for most top 25s on Pete Dye courses since 1983…If you have some spare change or a spare slot in your fantasy team, throw the kitchen Cink at Stewart…

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