Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's The Players Championship Tips

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Congratulations to you if you were on board Bryson DeChambeau at 12/1. He’s hard to select at that price, on the basis of his results being very much feast or famine. But you have to say that the guy is as hard as nails in contention, and has now won a Major Championship plus an additional 7 PGA Tour titles.

Across 3 of the past 4 weeks, arch closers in the form of Koepka, Morikawa and now DeChambeau have simply got the job done at 50/1, 45/1 and now 12/1 respectively. This column landed a part-return on Jason Kokrak at 45/1 who continues to play some very nice stuff this season.

With the Arnold Palmer Invitational in the rear-view mirror, it’s well worth checking out our latest best golf additional each-way places analysis to make sure you have all the golf additional each-way angles covered. 888Sport, bet365, Betfred, Coral and Ladbrokes have all started giving more additional each-way places in recent weeks, so make sure you are up to speed with the 2021 golf betting market.

We move on to The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass which is always a highlight of the golfing season. Relocated from May to March as part of the shorter PGA Tour season restructure, this is traditionally the strongest field of the year across an extended, for this year, 154 players.

Played at the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, this is the ultimate test of consistency, patience, aggression on key holes and bogey avoidance. Victory at The Players holds a 5-year PGA Tour exemption and 3-year exemptions to The Masters, US Open and Open Championship. Beware though, this is no ordinary PGA Tour tournament and The Players Championship is a title that all of golf’s elite want on their CV.

Before we go into the detail surrounding my Players Championship tips, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System as we work our way towards April and The Masters.  Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, 5,800+ strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

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Course Guide: The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is one of the most iconic courses in world golf. The Pete Dye design has always been a course where no particular type of player has a true advantage.

The tournament’s mantra has always been that the best player on the week wins the tournament. In Rory McIlroy, Webb Simpson, Si-Woo Kim and Jason Day who make up the past 4 champions, it’s pretty clear that different types of player can thrive here in Ponte Vedra.

2017 marked the first time that we saw the latest reincarnation of the Stadium Course, after a PGA Tour Design Services managed re-design. Make no mistake – this is a true Florida golf course test, which often features plenty of wind. The tournament organisers now have full control of this new golf course, which we saw return to March (from 1977-2006, The Players was held in the second half of March), for the first time since 2006 in 2019, when Rory McIlroy triumphed. Undoubtedly the course played easier than we’ve seen in past years, with overseed across the golf course and softer turf/green conditions.

Stadium Course, TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida: Designer: Pete Dye 1979, 2006 re-design, Steve Wenzloff re-design 2016; Course Type: Florida, Technical; Par: 72; Length: 7,189 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 17; Fairways: Celebration Bermudagrass overseeded with Ryegrass and Fine Fescue; Rough: Celebration Bermudagrass overseeded with Ryegrass and Fine Fescue 2.5″; Greens: 5,500 sq.ft. average TifEagle Bermuda overseeded with Poa Trivialis and Velvet Bentgrass; Tournament Stimp: 12.5ft; Course Scoring Average 2012: 72.47 (+0.47), Difficulty Rank 19 of 49 courses. 2013: 72.32 (+0.32), Difficulty Rank 19 of 43 courses. 2014: 72.16 (+0.16), Rank 25 of 48 courses. 2015: 72.08 (+0.08), Rank 18 of 52 courses. 2016: 72.06 (+0.06), Rank 19 of 50 courses. 2017: 73.29 (+1.29), Rank 5 of 50 courses. 2018: 71.41 (-0.59), Rank of 29 of 51 courses. 2019: 71.51 (-0.49), Rank 23 of 49 courses.

Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for the Stadium Course and how they compare to recent courses on Tour:

  • TPC Sawgrass: 250 yards from the tee: 31 yards wide; 275:32; 300:30; 325:28 350:20.
  • Bay Hill: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:33; 300:33; 325:39 350:29.
  • Riviera: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26 350:28.
  • Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30 350:26.
  • TPC Scottsdale: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:27; 350:27.
  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 26 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • TPC Stadium: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26; 350:24.
  • Waialae: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:32; 300:34; 325:37; 350:34.
  • Plantation Course: 250 yards from the tee: 59 yards wide; 275:61; 300:65; 325:60; 350:62.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other Pete Dye designs include:

  • Austin Country Club – WGC Dell Matchplay since 2016
  • Crooked Stick – 2012 and 2016 BMW Championship
  • Harbour Town – RBC Heritage
  • Ocean Course – Kiawah Island – 2012 PGA Championship
  • TPC River Highlands – The Travelers
  • TPC Louisiana – Zurich Classic of New Orleans
  • TPC Stadium, PGA West – The American Express since 2016
  • Whistling Straits – 2010 and 2015 PGA Championship

The Korn Ferry Tour has hosted tournaments on another TPC Sawgrass course – the Dye’s Valley Course – across 2013, 2014, 2015 plus last year. Chesson Hadley (2013), Emiliano Grillo (2015) and Luke List (2020) have won on that course with Adam Hadwin, Russell Knox, Paton Kizzire, Chez Reavie, Kyle Stanley, Brendon Todd and Will Zalatoris all finishing in the top 7. The Jacksonville Open was also hosted there from 2010-2012 featuring top-5 finishes from Danny Lee (2011), Russell Henley (2012) and Patrick Cantlay (2012).

Course Overview: Let’s start with the Steve Wenzloff re-design, which we saw for the first time in 2017. Pete Dye was consulted a number of times with all of the changes and the course now plays 26 yards shorter as a 7,189 yard par-72. The loss in yardage comes predominantly from the 12th hole which was changed from a standard 358 yard par-4, to a driveable, dog-leg left, 302-yard hole with the same par. It was designed in such a way to encourage all players to go for it, with no easy lay-up available, but certainly doesn’t play that way with few players taking the risk. In addition the par-4 7th and 15th holes were lengthened by 9 and 21 yards respectively.

Other changes saw spectator mounds between the 6th and 7th removed, replaced by a new body of water which only added to the distraction factor from off the tee. All bunkers were also re-built. Green complexes on the 1st, 4th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 13th and 14th were modified to feature larger putting surfaces, with the aim of allowing more pin positions to reduce wear on the greens. Critically the tired MiniVerde Bermudagrass putting surfaces were replaced by TifEagle Bermudagrass to offer consistently fast greens speeds. Effectively now though, the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is amongst the most controllable golf courses on the planet. Just a quick look at the winners’ scores since 2010 highlights how organisers and Director of Golf Course Operations Jeff Plotts can effectively manage the tournament to the target score they want in varying conditions. But the real point here is that Pete Dye’s design is brilliant in the fact that either controlled ball-strikers or short game specialists can win at the Stadium Course.

2019 saw the tournament move from May back to mid-March in terms of its timing and that undoubtedly changed some of the detail in terms of course set-up. With TPC Sawgrass located in Ponte Vedra Beach in north-east Florida, March means that course has to feature overseeding. So Ryegrass and Fescue has been added to the fairways and rough. Rory McIlroy commented on this on his way to victory here, “And then when you miss the greens, you’re not having to contend with that Bermuda, you’re not having to guess, how is this going to come out, whatever. So it lends itself to more aggressive play.”

The greens are also now overseeded, with the TifEagle Bermudagrass now sitting under Poa Trivialis and Velvet Bentgrass. This overseeding technique takes the inherent graininess of the Bermudagrass away and leads to smoother putting surfaces, with a Bentgrass over-sheen. In all likelihood they also make them more responsive. Undoubtedly this can have a tangible effect for many players who struggle on genuine Bermudagrass, potentially helping them to be more competitive on the greens. Recent – going back to 2009 –  PGA Tour winners on this type of putting surface can be seen below:

  • 2 – Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson.
  • 1 – Paul Casey, Corey Conners, Rickie Fowler, Russell Henley, Charley Hoffman, Andrew Landry, Rory McIlroy, Ryan Palmer, Ian Poulter, Jon Rahm, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Kyle Stanley, Brendan Steele, Jimmy Walker, Gary Woodland.

the players championship tips

Winners: 2019: Rory McIlroy (-16); 2018: Webb Simpson (-18); 2017: Si Woo Kim (-10); 2016: Jason Day (-15); 2015: Rickie Fowler (-12); 2014: Martin Kaymer (-15); 2013: Tiger Woods (-13); 2012: Matt Kuchar (-13); 2011: K.J. Choi (-13); 2010: Tim Clark (-16).

Lead Score Progression:

2019: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -12; Round 3 -15; Round 4 -16.

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy, Cameron Smith, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Hideki Matsuyama, Max Homa and Tony Finau.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Sony Open, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Ryan Moore; 2) Keegan Bradley; 3) Joel Dahmen, 4) Ryan Armour; 5) Collin Morikawa; 6) Mark Hubbard / Kevin Kisner; 8) Vaughn Taylor; 9) Corey Conners / Jim Herman / Brendon Todd; 12) Abraham Ancer; 13) Sungjae Im; 14) Brice Garnett / Louis Oosthuizen / Kevin Streelman; 17) Jerry Kelly; 18) Brian Stuard; 19) Kramer Hickok; 20) Martin Laird / Brendan Steele; 22) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Brian Harman; 25) Adam Hadwin / Billy Horschel / Cameron Percy.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Paul Casey / Tony Finau; 3) Corey Conners; 4) Patrick Cantlay; 5) Dustin Johnson; 6) Jason Kokrak / Jon Rahm; 8) Collin Morikawa / Scottie Scheffler; 10) Tommy Fleetwood / Cameron Percy / Will Zalatoris; 13) Matthew NeSmith / Henrik Norlander; 15) Sergio Garcia; 16) Viktor Hovland / Sam Ryder; 18) Keegan Bradley / Emiliano Grillo / Joaquin Niemann / Aaron Wise; 22) Shane Lowry; 23) Brendan Steele / Kevin Streelman; 25) Xander Schauffele / Kyle Stanley / Justin Thomas / Lee Westwood.
  • Scrambling: 1) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 2) Patrick Cantlay / Paul Casey; 4) Tony Finau; 5) Louis Oosthuizen; 6) Webb Simpson; 7) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Dustin Johnson / Scott Stallings; 10) Justin Rose; 11) Robert MacIntyre; 12) Ryan Palmer; 13) Dylan Frittelli / Bo Hoag; 15) Tyrrell Hatton / Viktor Perez / Scottie Scheffler / Brendon Todd; 19) Kevin Na / Vaughn Taylor; 21) Daniel Berger / Andrew Putnam / Nick Taylor; 24) Bryson DeChambeau / Jason Day / Harris English / Joaquin Niemann.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Max Homa; 2) Kevin Kisner; 3) Tony Finau; 4) Marc Leishman; 5) Carlos Ortiz; 6) Viktor Hovland; 7) Brian Harman / Brendon Todd; 9) Louis Oosthuizen / Xander Schauffele; 11) Sam Burns / Adam Scott; 13) J.T. Poston / Webb Simpson / Justin Thomas; 16) Anirban Lahiri / Joaquin Niemann / Jordan Spieth; 19) Daniel Berger; 20) Patrick Cantlay / Tyrrell Hatton / Peter Malnati; 23) Sungjae Im / Rory McIlroy; 25) Ryan Armour / K.H. Lee / Keith Mitchell / Ryan Palmer / Robby Shelton / Cameron Tringale.

Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Sony Open, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Patrick Cantlay; 2) Sergio Garcia; 3) Jon Rahm; 4) Viktor Hovland / Joaquin Niemann; 6) Emiliano Grillo / Tyrrell Hatton; 8) Cameron Champ / Brendan Steele; 10) Rory McIlroy; 11) Ton Finau; 12) Daniel Berger; 13)  Bryson DeChambeau; 14) Corey Conners / Louis Oosthuizen; 16) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 17) Justin Rose; 18) Jason Day / Lee Westwood; 20) Paul Casey / Sungjae Im / Dustin Johnson; 23) Luke List / Jhonattan Vegas; 25) Henrik Norlander.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Dustin Johnson; 2) Tony Finau; 3) Tyrrell Hatton; 4) Patrick Cantlay; 5) Paul Casey / Jon Rahm; 7) Collin Morikawa; 8) Viktor Hovland; 9) Tommy Fleetwood; 10) Xander Schauffele; 11) Keegan Bradley / Henrik Norlander / Will Zalatoris; 14) Corey Conners / Russell Henley / Jordan Spieth; 17) Rory McIlroy; 18) Christiaan Bezuidenhout  / Lanto Griffin / Max Homa / Scott Stallings; 22) Abraham Ancer / Justin Thomas; 24) Harry Higgs; 25) Cameron Davis / Charley Hoffman / Matthew NeSmith / Kyle Stanley / Bernd Wiesberger.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Dustin Johnson; 2) Kevin Na; 3) Christiaan Bezuidenhout / Tyrrell Hatton / Vaughn Taylor; 6) Joaquin Niemann; 7) Rickie Fowler; 8) Paul Casey / Tony Finau; 10) Martin Laird / Jordan Spieth; 12) Patrick Cantlay; 13) Sergio Garcia; 14) K.H. Lee / Cameron Smith; 16) Chris Kirk / Andrew Putnam / Brendon Todd; 19) Byeong Hun An / Adam Hadwin; 21) Bryson DeChambeau / Bernd Wiesberger; 23) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 24) Carlos Ortiz; 25) Tommy Fleetwood.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Patrick Cantlay; 2) Tony Finau; 3) Paul Casey / Dustin Johnson / Jon Rahm; 6) Collin Morikawa; 7) Tyrrell Hatton; 8) Viktor Hovland; 9) Sergio Garcia; 10) Corey Conners; 11) Joaquin Niemann; 12) Cameron Davis / Tommy Fleetwood / Xander Schauffele; 15) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 16) Rory McIlroy; 17) Jordan Spieth; 18) Keegan Bradley / Bryson DeChambeau; 20) Kevin Na; 21) Brendan Steele; 22) Cameron Tringale / Will Zalatoris; 24) Henrik Norlander; 25) Justin Rose.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Louis Oosthuizen; 2) Marc Leishman; 3) Daniel Berger / Mackenzie Hughes; 5) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 6) Xander Schauffele; 7) Webb Simpson;  8) Sungjae Im / Kevin Kisner; 10) Patrick Cantlay; 11) Adam Scott; 12) Ryan Armour / Mark Hubbard / Brendon Todd; 15) Lee Westwood; 16) Carlos Ortiz; 17) Lanto Griffin / Andrew Putnam; 19) Matt Jones / Jordan Spieth; 21) Bryson DeChambeau / Tommy Fleetwood; 23) Paul Casey / Patrick Reed; 25) Adam Hadwin / Max Homa.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Patrick Cantlay; 2) Paul Casey / Tony Finau; 4) Louis Oosthuizen; 5) Viktor Hovland; 6) Xander Schauffele; 7) Tyrrell Hatton; 8) Jon Rahm / Webb Simpson; 10) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 11) Tommy Fleetwood / Dustin Johnson; 13) Jordan Spieth; 14) Daniel Berger / Max Homa / Joaquin Niemann; 17) Christiaan Bezuidenhout / Rory McIlroy / Will Zalatoris; 20) Jason Kokrak; 21) Corey Conners / Lanto Griffin / Sungjae Im; 24) Cameron Davis / Bryson DeChambeau / Robert MacIntyre.

Winners & Prices: 2019: McIlroy 14/1; 2018: Simpson 100/1; 2017: Kim 500/1; 2016: Day 12/1; 2015: Fowler 66/1; 2014: Kaymer 90/1; 2013: Woods 9/1; 2012: Kuchar 55/1; 2011: Choi 45/1; 2010: Clark 100/1. Past 6 Renewals Average: 130/1. Overall Average: 90/1.

For a full summary of winner’s odds on the PGA Tour since 2010 click here.

Historical Weather:

  • 2019: Thursday: Partly Cloudy. High of 76. Wind SE 12-22 mph. Friday: Partly Cloudy. High of 80. Wind S 10-18 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy. High of 66. Wind N 10-20 mph. Sunday: Cloudy with intermittent showers. High of 59. Wind N 8-22 mph.
  • 2018: Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 82. Wind variable 5-10 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 91. Wind variable 7-14 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 85. Wind ESE 10-15 mph. Sunday: Mostly cloudy. High of 82 Wind E 10-15 mph.
  • 2017: Thursday: Mostly sunny with a high of 91. Wind WSW 8-16 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny with a high of 91. Wind WSW 8-16 mph. Saturday: Overcast with showers in the morning with a high of 84. Wind SW 15-25 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a high of 79. Wind NE 12-22 mph.
  • 2016: Thursday: Partly cloudy with a high of 83. Wind SE at 10-18 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy with a high of 88. Wind S at 6-12 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny with high in the low 80s. Afternoon wind gusted up to 20 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a high of 82. Wind ENE at 10-18 mph.
  • 2015: Thursday: Sunny, with a high of 83. Wind N at 10-15 mph with gusts to 20 mph. Friday: Partly sunny, with an afternoon high of 80. Light showers fell in the afternoon. Variable wind at 7-14 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy with a high of 83. Wind variable at 7-14 mph. Sunday: Highs in the mid-to-upper 80s, with sunny skies. SW wind at 10-15 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, is here.

Bay Hill was a beast of a course last week, with the combination of firm fairways, deep rough, releasing greens and a windy Sunday making “Arnie’s Place” a typically tough proposition. Being honest, I doubt we get the same here on the Stadium Course.

182mm of rain in February was the highest I have on record going back to 2014 and an additional 27mm of precipitation was received last week. So for me we see a lush, green TPC Sawgrass track throughout practice and the first couple of rounds. With no threat of rain whatsoever across tournament week, it’s up to PGA Tour where they want to go in terms of firmness. Personally I expect a higher mid-score getting the job done, so around the -17/271 to -18/270 mark, especially with light breeze the order of the whole tournament.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the 10 winners of The Players Championship since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2019, Rory McIlroy (-18). 305 yards (5th), 58.9% fairways (49th), 80.6% greens in regulation (3rd), 35’3″ proximity to hole (11th), 57.1 % scrambling (40th), 1.67 putts per GIR (9th).
  • 2018, Webb Simpson (-18). 281 yards (71st), 82.1% fairways (1st), 76.4% greens in regulation (5th), 43’6″ proximity to hole (69th), 64.7 % scrambling (24th), 1.60 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • 2017, Si Woo Kim (-10). 295 yards (11th), 69.6% fairways (15th), 62.5% greens in regulation (37th), 43’2″ proximity to hole (47th), 81.5 % scrambling (1st), 1.76 putts per GIR (26th).
  • 2016, Jason Day (-15). 311 yards (1st), 58.9% fairways (51st), 72.2% greens in regulation (15th), 38’1″ proximity to hole (47th), 85.0 % scrambling (1st), 1.67 putts per GIR (13th).
  • 2015, Rickie Fowler (-12). 296 yards (11th), 62.5% fairways (43rd), 62.5% greens in regulation (51st), proximity to hole 30’6″ (4th), 70.4 % scrambling (10th), 1.62 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2014, Martin Kaymer (-13). 290 yards (19th), 64.3% fairways (39th), 75.0% greens in regulation (3rd), proximity to hole 36’4″ (44th), 77.8 % scrambling (4th), 1.70 putts per GIR (23rd).
  • 2013, Tiger Woods (-13). 288 yards (22nd), 67.9% fairways (19th), 76.4% greens in regulation (3rd), proximity to hole 34’5″ (24th), 70.6% scrambling (6th), 1.71 putts per GIR (26th).
  • 2012, Matt Kuchar (-13). 281 yards (47th), 62.5% fairways (37th), 73.6% greens in regulation (3rd), proximity to hole 33’9″ (7th), 52.6% scrambling (23rd), 1.64 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2011, K.J. Choi (-13). 281 yards (44th), 71.4% fairways (10th), 69.4% greens in regulation (21st), proximity to hole 35’2″ (35th), 68.2% scrambling (7th), 1.64 putts per GIR (8th).
  • 2010, Tim Clark (-16). 278 yards (59th), 75.0% fairways (5th), 76.4% greens in regulation (4th), proximity to hole 35’10” (30th), 76.5% scrambling (2nd), 1.66 putts per GIR (8th).

Tournament Skill Averages:

Driving Distance: 29th, Driving Accuracy: 27th, Greens in Regulation: 15th, Proximity to Hole: 32nd, Scrambling: 12th, Putting Average 12th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2019, Rory McIlroy (-16). SG Off the Tee: 2nd, SG Approach: 6th, SG Around the Green: 25th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 45th.
  • 2018, Webb Simpson (-18). SG Off the Tee: 32nd, SG Approach: 62nd, SG Around the Green: 3rd, SG Tee to Green: 16th, SG Putting: 1st.
  • 2017, Si Woo Kim (-10). SG Off the Tee: 2nd, SG Approach: 18th, SG Around the Green: 3rd, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 37th.
  • 2016, Jason Day (-15). SG Off the Tee: 28th, SG Approach: 9th, SG Around the Green: 11th, SG Tee to Green: 3rd, SG Putting: 8th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 16th, SG Approach: 24th, SG Around the Green: 10th, SG Tee to Green: 6th, SG Putting: 23rd.

Let’s take a view from players as to how the TPC Sawgrass, Stadium Course sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Rory McIlroy (2019): “Yeah, the course was softer, including the fairways, also. I think the course over the last 10 years or whatever it’s been in May, it hasn’t lent itself to aggressive play. It’s sort of position and irons off tees and really trying to plot your way around the golf course, where I hit drivers on holes today that I would never have hit driver the last few years. So just to be a little more aggressive, get a shorter club in your hand, and even when you are aggressive and you miss, it’s a touch easier to get yourself back into position. The rough isn’t as long or as gnarly. You’re running into that pine straw and you still have some sort of a shot and some control of your ball. And then when you miss the greens, you’re not having to contend with that Bermuda, you’re not having to guess, how is this going to come out, whatever. So it lends itself to more aggressive play. I don’t know if the course is easier or not. We’ll see what the stroke average is at the end of the day. But because I think it’s playing longer, it’ll play longer for most of the guys, and I think it should all even out. But I definitely like the golf course the way it is in March.

I hit driver on the 4th hole – I mean, it was back into the wind, but still, the ball hits on the fairway and it’s not going that- it’s staying within sort of 10 yards of its pitch mark. You know, and then obviously it’s a Pete Dye course. You’ve got all these funky lines around, and in May it gets firm. You get a bad bounce here. With the Rye and how lush the grass is, even if you hit it into these banks, it’s not going too far, so you can be a little more aggressive. Like even, I hit my second shot on 2 today, I knew I was going into the left rough or into those left moguls, but I was much more comfortable doing that this year than I would have been in previous years.”

Webb Simpson (2018): “I’ve always loved it at TPC Sawgrass. You know, I feel like it doesn’t give one particular golfer an advantage, and I’m always a fan of those golf courses. You know, you take a hole like 18, Rickie, the year he won hit driver every time, and you can do that. I hit 5-wood every time, and I have a much longer club than if I hit driver. But there’s so many holes like that that give you an opportunity to hit different clubs off the tee, and you really think your way around the golf course, and any given day even if it’s really windy you’re going to have plenty of birdie opportunities, and that’s fun. It’s fun to know if I play well I can shoot 6-under like I did today, or if you’re a little off you might shoot a few over.

The challenge here is, if you’re hitting all your shots exactly where you’re looking, and so the temptation is to start aiming more at the flag. But I didn’t do that. I mean, you’ve got to isolate every shot and every putt and just ask yourself, what’s the objective here. Although I’m hitting it great, on 13, I aimed 30 feet right of the hole. 14, I have 9-iron in my hand, I’m aiming 15 feet right of the hole.

Si Woo Kim: “Conditions? I think that this year it’s better than last year. I played last year and Saturday was really crazy bumpy and then this year we had a chance to stop balls on the green. It plays easier this year. I think I’m a little bit more nervous at the Stadium Course. I know that Q-school, that course and this course was composed by the same architect, and we have more – I think here they have more hazards, and the course is a little bit more difficult than the Q-school course, so I think I was a little nervous for this tournament.

Jason Day: “It’s a difficult golf course in regards that, for me, not so much trying to hit the driver off the tee, but there’s a few 3-woods out there for me that I have to hit, and if there’s one club in the bag that’s uncomfortable for me at times, it’s the 3-wood. That’s why I might be hitting a few more 2-irons off the tee this week, just to try and get it in play, so that I can hit the fairways and try and get it on the green and give myself an opportunity at birdie.

Thursday: “The conditions are very hot, so the ball is going forever. Guys can dial it back a little bit and not hit certain clubs or drivers or 3-woods. They can hit irons off the tees, give yourself a lot more opportunities coming in from the fairway. And you can attack these pin locations, especially this morning. You can attack them coming in from the fairway or even the rough or the fairway bunker. But the greens are pure. They’re so nice and they’re rolling so perfect. It’s kind of sad that they’re going to rip the bloody greens up. I’m expecting it’s going to be even better next year.

Saturday: “But it was just, the green speeds kind of took me by surprise. It was just such a drastic change from Thursday to Friday to now, this afternoon. I mean, the front nine was a bit borderline in my honest opinion, but I think a lot of the players probably think that, as well. I think it was, what, I think they said it was 71, the scoring average yesterday, and 76 today or something like that, which is just unbelievable. we were out there for nearly six hours today trying to play 18 holes. That was just, it was – talk about slow play, they made the course pretty much nearly unplayable. If they do make it like that, then I’m just going to have to grind my hardest to win the tournament, and I’m okay with that.

Sergio Garcia: “I think winning here is always challenging. It’s the kind of golf course that’s asking you for a lot of different shots. So it’s the kind of golf course that you want to play. It’s really pushing you to the limits. Greens are fairly small, so you have to be accurate, not only off the tee but into the greens. You’re not going to have a lot of 50 footers on these greens. It’s very rare that you have a long putt like that because it kind of reminds me a little bit of Valderrama. Obviously Valderrama maybe has a little bit more movement, but it’s small greens; if you hit a good shot you’re always going to have a birdie putt. It always feels like you’re in range to make a birdie. And if you miss the greens, then chipping is very challenging, so it’s a great golf course overall.

Jordan Spieth: “Yeah, I think this course is interesting because the way the holes shape, you normally need one shape off the tee and then the next shot calls for the other shape. And sometimes off of the slope that wants you to hit it the opposite way. So it certainly there is some imagination involved. I love this grass, too. I love this Bermuda, grainy Bermuda. It’s what I grew up on. I think it’s also an advantage for me. I think that the course plays well for me if I’m on my game, but if I go out there and I’m struggling with a certain ball flight, then it’s going to eat you up out here. You really do have to have control of both of them.

Martin Kaymer: “Well it’s a golf course where you can shoot very low scores. If you hit the fairways, you can go very low. If you make a few putts here and there, it’s possible. Last year when I shot 9-under par the first round, I didn’t do anything special. Yes, I mean you made a few putts here and there more, but I was playing well, I hit fairways, and I used my chances. So, I didn’t do any extraordinary. If you miss the fairways, it’s tough. You can easily shoot 2- or 3-over par without doing much wrong. I think that’s the beauty about that golf course. Anything can happen until Sunday afternoon, and therefore it’s a good score to have, you know, if the winning score is somewhere around 10-under par, I think it’s always a good score to have to win a tournament.

Jim Furyk: “This Pete Dye course is visually intimidating, but the more you get to play it, you’re able to realize that there’s more room out there on certain shots. I think that’s a typical trait of Dye golf courses. The Crooked Sticks, Kiawah, here, New Orleans, you stare out from the tee box, you look at the fairway, you look at the first fairway and it looks like it’s about 10 yards wide. You get out there and you look around and you go, you know, there’s actually plenty of room out here. And then you look at the green and it now looks like it’s eight yards wide and you go, wow, you hit a shot up there and you look around and you go, well, actually there was plenty of room up here. Visually, though, it’s deceiving. I’m not going to drive it into the little necks and areas I shouldn’t. So there’s ample room to hit the ball. I’ve grown to get used to it and I’ve grown to like it over the years. I’ll be honest with you, I did not like this golf course.

Phil Mickelson: “I actually think that this tournament has a bigger challenge around the greens if you miss it and makes getting up and down a lot more difficult. So I feel like it puts a premium on ball striking and hitting the green. I feel like some of the mounding is so severe, and with the rough, that a lot of shots around the greens become almost impossible. If you can hit the greens and not stress out, put stress on your short game, I feel like that’s kind of the best way to do well here. Whereas, at Augusta you can get up and down from all different places, if you happen to miss greens, and it’s not as important as being on the correct side as chipping uphill. That’s not the case here. You really just want to be on the surface.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the winners of The Players Championship since 2010:

  • 2019 – Rory McIlroy: Round 1: 5th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2018 – Webb Simpson: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2017 – Si Woo Kim: Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 16th, Round 3: 4th.
  • 2016 – Jason Day: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2015 – Rickie Fowler: Round 1: 11th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 11th.
  • 2014 – Martin Kaymer: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2013 – Tiger Woods: Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 4th.
  • 2012 – Matt Kuchar: Round 1: 6th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2011 – K.J. Choi: Round 1: 25th, Round 2: 11th, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2010 – Tim Clark: Round 1: 11th, Round 2: 23rd; Round 3: 6th.

From the Lead: Below are the shots from the lead during the tournament of The Players Championship winners since 2010:

  • 2019 – Rory McIlroy: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2018 – Webb Simpson: Round 1: level, Round 2: 5 ahead, Round 3: 7 ahead.
  • 2017 – Si Woo Kim: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 6 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2016 – Jason Day: Round 1: 2 ahead, Round 2: 4 ahead, Round 3: 4 ahead.
  • 2015 – Rickie Fowler: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2014 – Martin Kaymer: Round 1: 2 ahead, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: level.
  • 2013 – Tiger Woods: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: level.
  • 2012 – Matt Kuchar: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2011 – K.J. Choi: Round 1: 6 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 1  back.
  • 2010 – Tim Clark: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 7 back, Round 3: 3 back.

Form of winners since 2010:

  • Rory McIlroy: 6th Bay Hill/2nd Mexico/4th Riviera/5th Torrey.
  • Webb Simpson: 21st Quail/5th Harbour/20th Augusta/29th World MP.
  • Si Woo Kim: MC New Orleans/22nd TPC San Antonio/MC Augusta/WD Houston.
  • Jason Day: 5th New Orleans/23rd Harbour/10th Augusta/1st World MP.
  • Rickie Fowler: 9th World MP/MC New Orleans/12th Augusta/71st Houston.
  • Martin Kaymer: 18th Quail/23rd Heritage/31st Augusta/MC Houston.
  • Tiger Woods: 4th Augusta/1st Bay Hill/1st Doral/37th PGA National.
  • Matt Kuchar: 13th TPC San Antonio/44th Heritage/3rd Masters/10th Copperhead.
  • K.J. Choi: 3rd New Orleans/8th Augusta/6th Bay Hill/MC Copperhead.
  • Tim Clark: 63rd Heritage/MC Masters/30th Bay Hill/22nd Doral.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2020 – Matsuyama – AM – 9/63 – 40/1
  • 2019 – Bradley / Fleetwood – AM/PM Split -7/65 – 75/1 & 45/1
  • 2018 – Cantlay / Hadley / D Johnson / Kuchar / Noren / Simpson – 3AM/3PM Split -6/66 – 60/1, 90/1, 33/1, 66/1, 66/1 & 70/1
  • 2017 – Hughes / McGirt – AM/PM Split -5/67 – 250/1 & 100/1
  • 2016 – Day – AM -9/63.
  • 2015 – Hearn / Hoffman / Matsuyama / Na – 1AM/3PM -5/67
  • 2014 – Kaymer – PM -9/63.
  • 2013 – Castro – AM -9/63.
  • 2012 – Laird / Poulter – AM/PM Split -7/65.
  • 2011 – Watney – AM -8/64.
  • 2010 – Allenby / Holmes – AM/PM Split -6/66.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of Bermudagrass PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 7 – Dustin Johnson.
  • 6 – Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas.
  • 4 – Jason Day, Brian Gay, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed.
  • 3 – Sergio Garcia, Billy Horschel, Si Woo Kim, Brandt Snedeker, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson.
  • 2 – Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Jason Dufner, Harris English, Rickie Fowler, Russell Henley, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Marc Leishman, Phil Mickelson, Scott Piercy, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Cameron Smith, Robert Streb, Jimmy Walker, Bubba Watson.
  • 1 – Ryan Armour, Keegan Bradley, Cameron Champ, Austin Cook, Tyler Duncan, Brendan Grace, Lanto Griffin, Adam Hadwin, James Hahn, Tyrrell Hatton, Jim Herman, Max Homa, Charles Howell III, Mackenzie Hughes, Sungjae Im, Jerry Kelly, Patton Kizzire, Martin Laird, Andrew Landry, Adam Long, Peter Malnati, Graeme McDowell, Keith Mitchell, Francesco Molinari, Collin Morikawa, Sebastian Munoz, Kevin Na, Carlos Ortiz, C.T. Pan, Pat Perez, J.T. Poston, Rory Sabbatini, Charl Schwartzel, Scott Stallings, Kevin Streelman, Brian Stuard, Hudson Swafford, Nick Taylor, Michael Thompson, Brendon Todd, Jhonattan Vegas, Lee Westwood, Aaron Wise, Gary Woodland.

Trends in terms of recent winners are interesting and mixed. Rickie Fowler had finished 2nd here in 2012 prior to winning in 2015. His form during that season had been mediocre to say the least, but a 12th at Augusta and a last-16 place at the World Match Play the week prior to TPC Sawgrass was the precursor to his come-from-behind victory here. Fowler’s last win had been at Quail Hollow in 2012 and despite his run of top Major Championship finishes in between, the American had been winless for 3 years worldwide.

However, strong course form doesn’t always translate to the winner here. Martin Kaymer had finished 19th (2011) and 15th (2012) in 5 appearances prior to capturing the title here in 2014. The German had been through a tough spell prior to his win as he had to wait 18 months since his last worldwide victory.

Matt Kuchar had finished 13th (2010) and 14th (2009) prior to capturing his first tournament victory for 21 months here in 2012. K.J. Choi had a TPC Sawgrass best of 16th set 5 years previous when he captured his first worldwide title in 18 months with his 2011 victory; Tim Clark incredibly broke his Tour maiden here in 2010 with inbound form of 63-MC-30. And, in 2018, Webb Simpson arrived here winless in 4 and a half years, without a PGA Tour Bermudagrass win to his name and had never finished in the top 10 at TPC Sawgrass in 8 appearances.

Even Si Woo Kim (2017) and 2019 winner Rory McIlroy won here off quite significant winless periods. Kim’s 500/1 shock came 8 months after his first PGA Tour win which had arrived at the 2016 Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club. Rory’s victory here came at 14/1; his last win had been almost a full year to the day at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational played at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida.

Naturally though, a couple of World Number 1s break this ‘winless trend’ since 2010. Jason Day had won the Bay Hill Invitational and WGC Dell Match Play titles prior to Augusta where he’d finished 10th. Day had also finished 6th at TPC Sawgrass 5 years earlier and his win here in 2017 was at 12/1. Tiger Woods was playing brilliantly prior to arriving at TPC Sawgrass in 2013. His strong play overcame his relatively poor Stadium Course/Pete Dye design form to win one of his sweetest victories at 9/1. It will be fascinating therefore to see how Dustin Johnson goes this week as the World Number 1 and bookmakers’ favourite.

Where immediate course form is not a must to win The Players, course experience is still a key advantage. Yes Eddie Pepperell, Xander Schauffele, Kevin Kisner, Jordan Spieth and David Lingmerth (a Sawgrass member) have contended and placed across recent renewals and Henrik Stenson finished 3rd on course debut back in 2006, these are the real exceptions. Hal Sutton (1983) and Craig Perks (2002) were the last players to win here on course debut.

Ultimately though, this Pete Dye design has always been a course where no particular type of player has a true advantage. The best player on the week wins, period.

My Final Players Championship Tips Are As Follows:

Patrick Cantlay 2pts EW 22/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Betfair

If we’re looking for player who has the combination of great current form, allied to superb Pete Dye course form, Patrick Cantlay takes some beating in this field.

2021 form of 21-2-3-15 is excellent and Cantlay’s Pete Dye form includes 9th (2019) and 2nd (2021) at the Stadium Course at PGA West; 3rd (2017), 7th (2018) and 3rd (2019) at Harbour Town; 14th (2017) and 7th (2018) at TPC Louisiana in the team event with Patrick Reed; and 15th (2018), 15th (2019) and 11th (2020) at TPC River Highlands.

So how does that translate to TPC Sawgrass? Well Patrick’s form in Florida is pretty scarce but effective. 5th at the Jacksonville Open on the Korn Ferry came on next door’s Dye’s Valley course. Cantlay’s big PGA Tour ‘breakout’ performance came at Copperhead where he finished 2nd to Adam Hadwin at the Valspar Championship. And 3 visits to TPC Sawgrass have generated 22nd (2017), 23rd (2018) and MC (2019). 2017’s course debut was memorable as Patrick was 7th/5th/7th across 18/36/54 holes and his liking for the Stadium Course was magnified in 2019 when again he was 1st/2nd/9th across 18/36/54 holes. Last year also saw Patrick shoot an opening round -6/66 to sit in 5th spot when the tournament was called off. Safe to say that Cantlay gets on well with the unrelenting side of Sawgrass and in Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Webb Simpson and Rory McIlroy – it took them 5, 5, 5, 8 and 9 appearances respectively to land their victories here at The Players.

A glance at my 8-week Strokes Gained skill set trackers highlights a player in rude health, ranking in this field 1st for Off the Tee, 4th for Approach, 12th for Around the Green, 1st for Tee to Green, 10th for Putting and 1st for Strokes Gained Current Form. At the ultimate all-round test that is the Stadium Course, Patrick looks primed. RESULT: MC

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Tyrrell Hatton 1.5pts EW 33/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Tyrrell Hatton is in my Players Championship squad this week at what I think is a great price.

The World Number 7 seems like a spot of value which is something we’ve rarely said since his victory in Florida 12 months ago. Indeed his last 24 starts have generated wins at the 2019 Turkish Airlines Open, 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational, the 2020 BMW PGA Championship and the 2021 Abu Dhabi Championship. Not too shoddy! You can also add to that a further 4 top-5 and 5 top-10 finishes. That works out at a 17% win-rate, 33% top-5 rate and a 54% top 10 rate. I doubt you’ll find too many that can match that.

And it’s not as if the High Wycombe man has been playing bad golf of late. He opened 2021 beating Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood in a tight affair in Abu Dhabi, closing on Sunday with a great -6/66. His Middle East campaign then closed with 22nd at the Dubai Desert Classic and 6th at the Saudi International, where again he was in the mix with Dustin Johnson and Tony Finau.

Since his return to the PGA Tour, 22nd at The Concession and 21st at Bay Hill have been decent enough efforts. 9th for Strokes Gained on Approach and 7th for SG Putting at the WGC, Tyrrell was 7th for SG Off the Tee, 13th for SG Approach, 6th for SG Around the Green and 4th for SG Tee to Green. You may remember I picked up Hatton at 55/1 last year to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational with similar lead-in statistics and it’s clear he plays nicely in the Sunshine State, where of course he now has a residence (Orlando). 4th at PGA National (2017 Honda Classic) plus 4th (2017) and 1st (2020) at Bay Hill, highlight a player who performs brilliantly on Florida-type golf courses. I also like 3rd at the Pete Dye designed Harbour Town and 7th (5th 72 Hole Scores) at East Lake on course debut last year, on what was his first real campaign in the United States.

Across my 8-week Strokes Gained Trackers in this field he ranks 6th for Off the Tee, 3rd for Approach, 3rd for Around the Green, 7th for Tee to Green and 7th for Strokes Gained Current Form. 41st from 3 appearances here isn’t glittering form, but comfortable now on the PGA Tour, Tyrrell is a far better player these days. RESULT: MC

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Tommy Fleetwood 1pt EW 45/1 (8EW, 1/5) with bet365

In the grand scheme of things, winning in America is something that I need to do and I’ve had chances and some times somebody’s played better than me and there’s some times where I’ve hit the wrong shot at the wrong time. It is what it is, but I think at the present moment I’m happy with where my game is trending and like the work that I’m doing and getting back into contention here this week is a really, really nice feeling.” The words of Tommy Fleetwood who is the kind that goes well at TPC Sawgrass.

41st on debut here in 2017 included a Friday -5/67 which was the tied-3rd best round of the day. 2018 was the year when the United States realised that Fleetwood was a genuine elite talent, with a runner-up spot at Shinnecock following on from Tommy shooting a weekend pair of 68s to finish 7th here behind the unstoppable Webb Simpson. And we were on-board Fleetwood at 28/1 here in 2019, where he shared the 36-hole lead with eventual victor Rory McIlroy and was T2 with Rory going into Sunday, a shot behind Jon Rahm. Tommy eventually finished 5th when the putter went stone cold on Sunday.

A patient course manager, Tommy has had his best U.S. Major finishes at the U.S. Open where he finished 4th at Erin Hills in 2017 and 2nd at Shinnecock Hills in 2018. That kind of patient approach always holds water at the Stadium Course where recent winners such as Matt Kuchar, Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Webb Simpson and Rory McIlroy had all performed well in the heat of U.S. Open battle before winning the Players title.

Already with top 7 finishes across 3 of Florida’s most iconic golf courses, namely PGA National (4th 2018, 3rd 2020), Bay Hill (3rd 2019) and here (7th 2018, 5th 2019), I think Tommy is a cracking each-way punt this week, especially as he ranks in this field across my 8-week trackers 10th for Greens in Regulation, 9th for SG on Approach, 12th for SG Tee to Green and 11th for SG Current Form. RESULT: MC

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Hideki Matsuyama 1pt EW 35/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Betfred

The Players over the years has thrown up some surprise winners. Tim Clark in 2010 won his first and only PGA Tour title at 100/1. K.J. Choi had not won on the PGA Tour for 3 years, before winning the 2011 renewal – landing his 8th and biggest career victory on the Stadium Course at 45/1. 2012 saw Matt Kuchar win for the first time in 21 months as he captured The Players at 55/1. Rickie Fowler in 2015 won this at 66/1 – his previous win had been the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. Kaymer was as big as 90/1 when he took this out in 2014 – his only previous win in the United States had been the 2010 PGA Championship at the Pete Dye designed Whistling Straits. And we won’t even talk about Si Woo Kim in 2017!

So I like Hideki Matsuyama at a reasonable each-way price, who is showing signs of recovery. Winless now on the PGA Tour since August 2017, 15th at the WGC-Workday Championship and 18th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational across his Florida Swing have shown signs of life. 3rd for Total Driving and 2nd for Ball Striking at Bay Hill last week was an eye-opener, where he was 10th for Strokes Gained Approach and 20th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green. His -3/141 weekend total was only 3 off Westwood and 2 off DeChambeau. 15th at the Concession also saw Hideki shoot middle rounds of -6/66 and -4/68 as he went into Sunday in 7th spot.

But where this gets interesting for me is the Japanese Number 1s record here at TPC Sawgrass. 6 appearances here have gleaned  23rd (2014), 17th (2015), 7th (2016), 22nd (2017) and 8th (2019). That’s a strong record for Hideki – especially on Bermudagrass greens, which I have never thought suit him. The switch of The Players to March undoubtedly aids the World Number 23 as the course now features TifEagle Bermuda overseeded with Poa Trivialis and Velvet Bentgrass. These greens are effectively the same as those which were found at TPC Scottsdale – a course where Hideki was runner-up in 2015 and winner across both 2016 and 2017. Players champions – Rickie Fowler won there in 2019 as did Webb Simpson in 2020. Matsuyama was also the First Round Leader here 12 months ago – shooting -9/63 before the tournament was scrubbed. RESULT: MC

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Abraham Ancer 1pt EW 70/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Betfair

I’ll close with Abraham Ancer who was 12th here on course debut in 2019. 69-66 over Thursday/Friday saw him in 3rd spot come Saturday as he played in the 3rd last group with Brian Harman. A -2/70 on Saturday still saw him right in the mix come Sunday, but an unfortunate 3rd last Sunday group with Ollie Schniederjans saw the inevitable collapse from both players as the Mexican fell to 12th and Schniederjans to 16th. Fact is though that Ancer, as we know, can mix it with the very best on the right courses. He goes well on shorter courses and he’s a solid all-rounder, plus he likes a Pete Dye design.

2nd (2020) and 5th (2021) at The American Express played on the Stadium Course at PGA West, the World Number 28 has also finished 2nd at Harbour Town (2020), plus 8th (2019) and 11th (2020) at TPC River Highlands.

10th for Tee to Green at the WGC-Workday Championship, he shot a -6/66 on Friday which was tied-3rd best score of the day. He eventually finished 18th. But the tighter, shorter confines of TPC Sawgrass will suit him much more this week and I like the chances of the Mexican who already this season has finished 4th at TPC Summerlin, contended at Augusta National (2nd after 54 holes – finished 13th) and finished 5th on that Pete Dye design in California, as well as landing 3 additional top-20 finishes. Could be one to shine at a deeper price, but I’d take all the 10 places available on the each-way! RESULT: T22

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