Could It Be Tiger’s Time Again at PLAYERS Championship?

SBR Staff

Monday, May 7, 2018 8:55 PM UTC

Monday, May. 7, 2018 8:55 PM UTC

The PLAYERS Championship is often referred to as the “fifth major” on the PGA Tour and every member of the world’s Top 50 will tee it up this week in Florida.

It is often called the toughest field in tournament golf. It is held at a course that is equal parts menacing, entertaining and roller-coaster-style thrilling. And if there was such a thing, it would easily qualify as golf's fifth major.

Simply put, THE PLAYERS has elevated itself as one of the premier events on the worldwide calendar. This weekend's field, as is the case every year, is a virtual Who's Who making the journey to the famed TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course layout in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Figuring out who could win THE PLAYERS this year isn't any easier than usual and wagering on the event (both outright and live betting can be done here at Intertops) is skewed even more than normal by the presence of 14-time major champion Tiger Woods -- who is enjoying a comeback season from major back surgeries that has seen flashes of brilliance.

Woods -- who is +3300 at Intertops -- has two PLAYERS victories (2001, 2013) on his 79-win PGA Tour resume. But TPC Sawgrass has also cut Woods down to size -- as the multiple-time former World No. 1 has often struggled to solve Pete Dye's tricky masterpiece. Notably, Woods has never missed a PLAYERS cut, though he did withdraw from the final round of the 2010 event citing a bulging disc in his neck.

Woods is only one of the 144 players descending upon Northeast Florida in search of THE PLAYERS' Waterford crystal trophy, $1.89 million winner's share and five-year PGA Tour exemption.

Defending champion Si Woo Kim (+8000) would seem like a decent bet, as the South Korean's 2018 returns (four Top 10s, including a solo second at the RBC Heritage) suggest a return to TPC Sawgrass could yield another championship. Playing against Kim, however, is the fact that no one has won back-to-back PLAYERS in 45 years.

Former World No. 1 Jason Day is fresh off a victory at last week's Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina on Sunday and would love to add a second PLAYERS to his 2016 victory. Day is listed as a +1400 second-favorite by Intertops. Rickie Fowler, the 2015 PLAYERS winner, goes off as a +1800 pick.

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Inflation stat of the week: Winner of The Players Championship earns more this week than Arnold Palmer made in the 734 tournaments he played in his career.

— Doug Ferguson (@dougferguson405) May 7, 2018

Justin Thomas (+1400), the 2017 PGA Championship winner, could ascend to the world No. 1 spot with a victory at TPC Sawgrass. His best finish was third behind Day in 2016. Reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed (+3000) has not seen much success at TPC Sawgrass, with his best finish a tie for 22nd last year. The overall favorite is Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, whom Intertops lists at +1200. Jordan Spieth is at +1400, and current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson is +1600.

Of course, one of the main stars every year is TPC Sawgrass itself. At 7,189 yards and a par of 72, the Stadium course was carved out from 415 acres of wooded wetlands bought for $1 by then-commissioner Deane Beman. Architect Pete Dye took pains to ensure no two consecutive holes play in the same direction, doglegs were created in both directions and both short and long holes are offered at every par.

A recent tweak is the drivable par-4 12th hole, where both fairway and green slope toward a water hazard on the left. Nothing, though, is likely to ever match the drama at the iconic 17th – a nerve-wracking 137 yards over water to a green connected only by narrow rear pathway. A total of 69 balls found water last year at the 17th, the second-highest total since the PGA Tour began keeping count 15 years ago.

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