The Players Championship Longshots & Alternative Bets

Paul Williams outsiders & alternative markets preview for the 2013 Players Championship. Follow Paul on twitter: @golfbetting.

This season really has been the year of the outsider - 500/1 Derek Ernst's shock win last week at Quail Hollow was the latest in a string of 3-figure winners in 2013. We came mighty close to grabbing 110/1 shot Angel Cabrera in this column at The Masters with Adam Scott finally breaking our hearts on the 2nd playoff hole on that fateful Sunday, let's see if we can go one better this time!

The key to longshot bargain hunting is naturally picking the right players, but just as key is selecting the right bookmaker. The following bookies have all extended their each way terms to 6 places this week (pre-event) - giving you an extra chance to land a longshot result:

A few other bookies are also going 6 places whereas some of the big names like Ladbrokes, Coral and William Hill have stuck rigidly with 5 places so do check carefully before placing your bet. Best of all though there's a cracking offer from Stan James - 7 places EW for mobile customers only. You must access the Stan James website via a mobile to be presented with the 7 places EW offer, for PC/Laptop users it's 6 places EW:

Here's my 3 longshots then who I think could make the frame:

Kevin Streelman 0.5pts EW 90/1 with stan james bonus code Get a £10 free bet via this link plus 7 places each way on MOBILE ONLY: stan james promotion

Already a Florida winner this season, it's clear that the bookies still don't rate Streelman as a significant threat in this kind of company - but I'd beg to differ. That victory at Copperhead in March was the 34-year old's long-awaited first victory on Tour after more than 150 attempts, however he's shown no sign of slowing down with a 3rd place finish on Hilton Head and 6th last week at Quail Hollow after missing the cut at Augusta. He's clearly in a rich vein of form at the moment and returns to TPC Sawgrass for the 5th time with a top-20 finish in 2011 to his credit - which could have been far better were it not for a Saturday round of 75 that year. The main reason for his turnaround in form in 2013, which sees him sitting 5th in the FedEx Cup points list, is that his tee-to-green game has improved immeasurably this year as he sits 24th for driving accuracy, 35th for greens in regulation and 15th for ball-striking. Around a course which demands long game excellence as much as it does short game expertise, that's going to set him in very good stead. 3rd behind Matt Kuchar and Martin Laird (sound familiar?!!) at Ridgewood in 2010 and 4th on the same track in 2008 with Sawgrass winners Sergio Garcia and K.J. Choi in attendance may be more than a coincidence and, with the extra places on offer here, I'm gobbling up the 90s on a cracking each way prospect. RESULT: Tied 2nd

Thorbjorn Olesen 0.5pts EW 100/1 with stan james bonus code Get a £10 free bet via this link plus 7 places each way on MOBILE ONLY: stan james promotion

The sound of scribbling on thousands of golf punters' notebooks was almost audible at Augusta as the hugely talented Dane recovered from an opening round 78 to make the cut on the mark before shooting a pair of 68s over the weekend to finish in a tie for 6th. That was both an incredible recovery and noteworthy performance on Masters debut that will see him backed heavily for next year's event I'm sure, however for the time being let's focus on the task at hand. The 23 year-old won his first European Tour event on a tough but scoreable track in Sicily last season after a few close calls and will surely add to his tally over the next few seasons as he learns to control his aggression a little, however it's that scoring prowess which could well see him perform well here on what I suspect will be a lower than normal winning total due to the soft course and benign conditions. The World No.33, who finished top 10 at The Open last year, is a huge prospect with good length off the tee, decent irons where he religiously averages around 70% of Greens in Regulation, an excellent short game and a fast improving putting stroke. All in all, I think he's the real deal and will continue to make an impact at this level over the next few years. 2nd and 3rd on the Bermuda greens of Abu Dhabi and Dubai in decent company earlier this term is encouraging on the European Tour, as was 7th at Bay Hill on debut. The Nike man has accepted a Temporary Special Membership for the PGA Tour which will see him remain stateside for 2013 and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him grab a full card and exemption with victory somewhere before the season is through. RESULT: MC

Martin Laird 0.5pts EW 125/1 with stan james bonus code Get a £10 free bet via this link plus 7 places each way on MOBILE ONLY: stan james promotion

Similar to Streelman, Martin Laird is another 2013 winner who has been seemingly written off by the bookies - despite finishing runner-up to Matt Kuchar here last season. The 30 year-old Scot, who now bases himself out of Scottsdale as many others do, grabbed his 3rd PGA Tour victory at TPC San Antonio last month in spectacular style by holing everything in sight on Sunday and eventually beating Rory McIlroy into second place with a sparkling final round of 63. That came after an indifferent spell of form and 2 missed cuts have followed since, however Laird will have great mental pictures to fall back on from his performance here last season and knows that a similar display here will catapult him back into the World's top 50 and the perks that such a lofty position carries. I mentioned the Ridgewood form in relation to Streelman above - Laird finished 7th in 2008 and 2nd in 2010 - however the similarities don't end there as 15th in ball-striking and 34th for greens in regulation is also uncannily similar. With receptive greens, the Scot's 'Americanised' high ball-flight can put him in position to make lots of birdies and if he putts anything like he did on that Sunday in Texas then we could be looking at another 3-figure winner on the 2013 PGA Tour. RESULT: Tied 5th

First Round Leader Selections

With soft, placid conditions there could be quite a few low scores out there - here's my 3 selections:

Phil Mickelson 1pt EW 35/1 First Round Leader with stan james bonus code Get a £10 free bet via this link: stan james promotion

We'll know pretty early on whether Lefty is going to seriously contend for this year's Players Championship, however with the putting form he's in I'm willing to give him a chance in the FRL market at an eye-catching 35/1 with Stan James when most other bookies are 7-10 points shorter. On atrocious greens at Quail Hollow Mickelson was putting lights-out right up until the business end of proceedings and the fact that he didn't convert a guilt-edged opportunity will have riled him severely. So what can we expect this week from Phil? He's twice led this event after the first day - his opening 64 in 2002 was good for a 2-shot cushion going into Friday and a Thursday 67 in 2007 was enough for a share of the spoils after day 1 with Rory Sabbatini. His opening round of 60 in Phoenix in February established what proved to be an impenetrable lead and whilst Phil hasn't quite reached those highs again since there was enough in his game last week to suggest that a low round or 2 is very much a possibility. RESULT: lose

Russell Henley 0.5pts EW 100/1 First Round Leader with stan james bonus code Get a £10 free bet via this link: stan james promotion

Harris English 0.5pts EW 100/1 First Round Leader with stan james bonus code Get a £10 free bet via this link: stan james promotion

Two young starlets complete my FRL selections. 24 year-old Russell Henley burst onto our radar in January by becoming the first rookie in 12 years to win on his PGA Tour debut, breaking the Sony Open in Hawaii scoring record on his way to an incredible 24-under total. His silky-smooth putting stroke reminds me of Brandt Snedeker in a lot of ways and there's sure to be more victories on the way for the talented Georgian. Not surprisingly he dropped off a little after that victory (it was his 3rd success in 5 starts after two late-season triumphs on the web.com Tour), however 6th at the RBC Heritage on his penultimate start was encouraging and his 67-69 weekend was the joint-best final 2 days score. This will be Henley's debut at TPC Sawgrass - but then again so is every week for the rookie - and his scoring power (18th for round 1 scoring, 11th for strokes gained putting) puts him in with a chance of grabbing an early part of the limelight in my view. RESULT: lose

Harris English is another talented youngster who is now in his 2nd season on the PGA Tour. Top 10s at Harbour Town, Colonial and Sedgefield in his rookie season demonstrated an aptitude on par 70 tracks and whilst TPC Sawgrass is a par 72 it shares certain similarities. Those finishes were good enough to contribute towards the 23 year-old keeping his card and 3 top 10s already in 2013 have put him in good stead for full playing privileges in 2014 at this early stage. 6th on his last start at the Pete Dye-designed TPC Louisiana is decent form for this; 16th for first round scoring this season (18th in 2012) is encouraging, as was his 70-67 start here last season on Players Championship debut. RESULT: lose

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:10BST 7.5.13 but naturally subject to fluctuation. Click here for the archived predictor model for this event.

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