It’s the turn of the so-called fifth major as a star-studded field gather in Florida for the Players Championship.
As the PGA Tour reaches its tenth event of the calendar year, the likes of Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland and co. all meet at the Players Stadium Course with a whopping purse of €20,000,000 at stake.
So, what can we come to expect from this weekend? Our resident golfing-guru and PGA-previewing-mainstay David Kristiansen has you covered…
Course: TPC Sawgrass
Length: 7189 yards (Par 72)
Architect: Pete Dye
With the exception of an injured Bryson DeChambeau and a probably suspended Phil Mickelson, everyone else who matters is here this week as the best field in golf tees it up in the usually sunny Florida (more on that later).
TPC Sawgrass is another Florida track with somewhat narrow fairways protected by a lot of water and bunkers but, unlike last week, the rough is down so the players usually have a bale out option off the tee.
What usually separate the best here is the approaches into the small bermuda greens with five of the last eight winners ranking inside the top 10 in the stats category. It’s also another par 72 track so the bulk of the scoring will need to be done on the par 5s.
Usually, we see a winning score in the high teens in Ponte Vedra but with rain, some thunderstorms that might cause some delays and windy and cold conditions over the weekend I would keep an extra eye on the type of golfers who thrive in conditions where the winning score can creep towards single digits.
Here are some of the things I will be looking at/for:
Strokes gained approach
Par 5 scoring
Proximity 200+ yards
2019-20 season: +35.61 units , ROI: 121%
2020-21 season: +170,92 units, ROI: 148%
Wagered: 85 units
Won: 49.58 units
Result: -35.42 units
Shane Lowry 51,00 2,5 pts EW (1/4 the odds 5 places)
As has most players, the Irishman has an up and down track record at the volatile set-up that faces the players this week, but a T8 and T16 mixed in with a couple of missed cuts signals that he can get it done around this place.
If the forecast had shown sunny and no wind, I think Lowry would have fallen just outside my betting card but with the elements set to play a major role, the guy who picked off an Open Championship in similar conditions a couple of years ago and finished 2nd in difficult conditions at the Honda just two weeks ago becomes highly interesting.
The Honda was his first start on American soil this year and just continued the trend that his three straight top 25s in the Middle East earlier in the year started.
Lowry gaining massively off the tee (3,8 strokes), on approach (6,8) and putting (4,1) at the Honda bodes well for a course that will test all parts of your game this week.
Si Woo Kim 67,00 2,5 pts EW (1/4 the odds 5 places)
My second bet of the week is a guy who loves Pete Dye courses and especially Sawgrass – according to the stats, he outperforms his baseline with 2 shots per round here.
The season so far has been solid from the former Players champion with four of his five starts resulting in a top 26 finish and while he has yet to record a top ten (two 11th place finishes), I see this as the perfect spot for him to really contend.
He has not lost strokes off the tee since last fall, his irons can get scorching hot and with him slowly trending in the right direction over the past month in that category, the South Korean is just a decent putting week away from having a chance to pick up his second Players Championship.
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