Prize Fund – $10,000,000
Winner’s Share – $1,800,000
Course – TPC Sawgrass (Par 72, 7215 yards)
After 5 days of unadulterated madness at the WGC Match Play, we now move on to another star-studded line-up for the PGA Tour’s flagship event.
The Players Championship has long been considered the ‘5th major’ and will always attract the very best players and this year is no different.
Rory McIlroy heads the betting alongside Jordan Spieth, but the fact he’s just played 7 rounds in 5 days makes him definitely un-backable, even if you fancied the 7/1 on offer.
We do feel the same can be said of all 5 of the guys that made it through to Sunday because it’s just a lot of golf to play both mentally and physically.
Especially because the Players is so prestigious and TPC Sawgrass is such a tough challenge in itself. It’s hosted the event since 1982, with Pete Dye designing a track specifically for this tournament and it requires a level-headed tee-to-green performance.
The Par 72 is not particularly long at 7,215 yards but possesses some of the smaller and tougher greens to hit on Tour. Total diving, ball striking and top scrambling will be requirements for anyone wanting to challenge, whilst historically, scoring on par 5’s has been an important factor.
It’s also absolutely vital to have course experience and knowledge of the track and it’s tough layout. 9 of the last 11 winners had a top 20 finish here before their victory. You will rarely see anyone you wouldn’t consider a ‘top player’ come here and win either, so you are essentially looking for someone with pedigree and some sort of form.
But as we said earlier, it’s probably best to avoid the guys that made it to Sunday at the WGC and instead look at those who may have been knocked out early but still showed some form.
Louis Oosthuizen (50/1 various)
Now we know we mentioned how important course form is here and there’s no denying that Louis Oosthuizen is lacking in that department. Four starts with three missed cuts, but he does fit the trends theoretically because he has one finish inside the top 20…
The main reason we like the South African this week is simply because of how he’s performing at the moment. He finally seems to be over his bout of injuries, playing regular golf and recording good finishes.
In his last 8 starts he’s missed the cut twice but found top 20’s in his other 6 outings. That includes 4 top 10’s. We were super impressed with his outing at the Match play last week – confirming to us fully that he’s in good knick. Yes, he lost to Jimbo Furyk in the Quarters but he beat Bubba in a playoff, Rickie Fowler and destroyed Keegan Bradley. Across his four rounds (the victories) he would have been -18 in strokeplay, which just proves how many birdies and pars he was able to find.
That includes just one bogey and you have to feel slightly excited by that. Plus in the stats department he is 46th for ball striking, 9th for GIR and 15th in par 5 birdie or better.
At 50’s you’d be silly not to get involved.
Phil Mickelson (40/1 various)
Oh Phil. We couldn’t help it at 40s. It’s probably slightly ludicrous, but theoretically his last outing was a T2 at The Masters, so in our eyes, he’s found his mojo again.
As usual he pulled out of the Match Play which just makes us think he’s as fresh as a daisy, raring to add another big title to his legendary CV.
In all honesty if you actually look at his form line, it isn’t that bad. 5 outings and a worst finish of T31 proves that he’s nearly there and we cant help but get excited at him plugging away on the Sawgrass track.
He obviously won here back in 2007, so he knows everything there is to know about the course and we all know what he’s about tee to green.
Yes wild at times, but there are few better scramblers or par 5 players in the game, full stop.
Too intriguing at 40’s.
Adam Scott (45/1 Coral)
Another top player at very interesting prices and someone that would command half the odds if he was playing at the top of his game.
Adam Scott is not in the sort of form that we’re used to and that’s why he’s drifted. But actually sit down and look at his results and you’d be a fool not to back him at 45/1.
5 outings in strokeplay this season, missing only 1 cut and recording 2 top 12 finishes. He was T4 at the WGC Cadillac earlier in the season and he did go into the weekend at The Masters with a slight sniff of challenging.
Whilst that obviously didn’t work out and he dropped back to T38, it still shows that his game isn’t as bad as what the bookies are making it seem.
He did lose 3 on the bounce at the Match Play, however barring a hideous stretch on the back nine against Paul Casey, his scoring was by no means horrific.
But you’ve also got to look at his history here. He won the event back in 2004 and has recorded 2 other top 10’s, whilst he’s only missed 2 cuts in 12 outings.
His abilities clearly suits the demands when it’s in full swing – a cracking all-round driver with a top iron game, the Aussie needs to pull together and really kick start his season.
Rickie Fowler (60/1 Coral)
And so the theme continues. Another top, top player at odds we simply couldn’t resist.
It’s remarkable that the market has been pushed out compared to The Masters but it’s most likely because of the top 3 and their clearly impressive form (McIlroy, Spieth and Rose.)
But still, Rickie Fowler at 60/1 is something we simply cannot ignore.
His calendar year has obviously not gone the way it should have, but we’ve seen progressive signs in recent outings to suggest he’s close to showing the form that propelled him to new heights last year.
Mainly he seems to enjoy the truly big tournaments at the moment. Obviously we all know his performances at the Majors in 2014, but even the 3 big ones so far this season – The WGC HSBC he finished T3, T12 at The Masters and a round of 16 berth last week.
Now obviously this is the flagship PGA Tour event and when you think he’s recorded a 2nd here back in 2012, you can’t help but get excited at his prospects.
He’s a top driver of the ball and a par 5 specialist and a proven scrambler. Much like Scott, this is the sort of event that can really kick start the year for Fowler.
Ryan Palmer (100/1 BetVictor)
You will often find us backing Ryan Palmer at these sort of events. Why? Because we know that he’s on the verge of something really special. His talent has proven it over the past 18 months and it’s just a matter of time.
So, at 3-figure odds, once again, we’re lumping on the American.
He’s had a whole host of missed cuts here, but there’s a cheeky T5 finish in 2013 that proves to us his game can suit the challenge, it’s just a case of whether he turns up or not.
Now, we do feel he’s putting in more regular performances and should thrive off that confidence. One missed cut all year, 8 top 25 finishes, including 4 top 10s and he played well at Augusta, on the whole, for his T33.
He is 52nd for total driving, T36 for ball striking, 45th for GIR, 52nd for scrambling and T20 in par 5 birdie or better. If that doesn’t make you want to back him, we don’t know what will.
Webb Simpson (125/1 Coral)
Webb Simpson is arguably in the same category as Palmer for us. The main difference being he’s already a Major champion. However, we still feel there’s more to come from such a consistent tee to green player.
His distances off the tee have been improving rapidly over recent years and the fact he’s 18th in total driving proves that. He has that potent mix of strength and accuracy which should suit Sawgrass perfectly.
So why his best finish is T15 is beyond us, but again, that still fits the trends in terms of a top 20…
As for his form, he’s shown glimpses without truly putting a 4-round performance in. Last week he faced an inspired Gary Woodland in his 3rd match, but before that beat the much fancied duo of Ian Poulter and Jimmy Walker.
That shows he isn’t a million miles away.
7th in ball striking, 14th for GIR, 32nd scrambling and 2nd for par 5 birdie or better add to the appeal and we can’t argue with his 125/1 price.
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£1.00 e/w on Louis Oosthuizen at 50/1
£1.25 e/w on Phil Mickelson at 40/1
£1.25 e/w on Adam Scott at 35/1
£1.00 e/w on Rickie Fowler at 50/1
£0.50 e/w on Ryan Palmer at 90/1
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 6 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power
Whilst we are not doing a preview for the Mauritius Open, we do have a staking plan in the betting challenge as follows –
£1.25 e/w on Prom Meesawat at 40/1
£1.25 e/w on Eduardo De La Riva at 50/1
£1.25 e/w on Justin Walters at 66/1
£1.25 e/w on Victor Riu at 66/1
Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)
Current Standings after 16 weeks (and it makes for horrible reading…)
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £-48.70 European Tour: £-63.75
PGA Tour: £-78.44 PGA Tour: £48.75
Total: £-127.14 Total: £-5.00
Golf Monthly leads by: £112.14