The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass awaits. Who will be able to maneuver their way around this extremely difficult test of golf and become this year's Players Champion? Golf picks inside.
It has been five weeks since we experienced the first Major Championship of the PGA Tour season, The Masters, and now here in the second week of May, we get another marquee event, The Players Championship. With arguably the greatest field in golf assembled, The Players is often referred to as "The 5th Major," and it might as well be. The USGA holds its Major Championship next month, The U.S. Open. The R&A hosts The British Open in July, and The PGA of America conducts the final Major of the season, The PGA Championship.. but The Players is The PGA Tour's darling. With the winner garnering a check of nearly $1.9 Million, and The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida being one of the most challenging and exciting golf courses in the world, it is understandable why The Players carries such lofty respect in the world of golf tournaments.
TPC Sawgrass is a Pete Dye design and has hosted The Players since 1982. It typically ranks in the top 15 or 20 hardest courses played every year. Any golf fan is familiar with the magically designed, Par Three, 17th hole at The Stadium Course. Surrounded by water, it is an island green that sends golfers' nerves into a frenzy as they stare down their shot, and a hole that sends plenty of golf balls to a watery death. Over the years, we have seen The Players both won and lost on this single hole.
It is not necessarily one skill set or style of game that is favored here at The Players Championship but rather the golf course and this tournament demand perfection in all areas across the board - like a Major Championship. Driving Accuracy is probably slightly more important than Driving Distance as the course is not crazy long by Tour standards. The greens are small however, so hitting them in regulation is paramount. A good week of putting will certainly help and with over ninety sand bunkers on the track, Sand Saves and Scrambling are also big indicators of success at Sawgrass. Let's take a look at who the oddsmakers think will be there on Sunday.
Rory McIlroy (+800 at Bet365) Coming in off of a Top-10 finish last week at The Wells Fargo, McIlroy looks to be in form. He has played TPC Sawgrass six times, missing the cut in his first three tries, but finishing in the Top-10 in each of the last three years.
Jordan Spieth (+1000 at BetVictor)) Welcome back to The Golden Child as we have not seen Spieth in action since he dumped two in the water at number 12 at The Masters and let the green jacket slip away. He has only competed in The Players twice, finishing 4th and Cut.
Jason Day (+1000 at 888Sports) Since winning two weeks in a row in March and ascending to number one in the world, Day has not displayed the total dominance he did back then. He now steps foot on a golf course at which he has missed the cut three times in five tries.. but also owns a 19th and 6th place finish in his other two trips.
Rickie Fowler (+1500 at Ladbrokes) The defending champion put on quite a show on Sunday last year, winning in a playoff.. and Fowler is proof that is does not have to be all a bed of roses year in and year out to win here as he missed the cut three times and finished 77th the year prior to breaking through. Rickie did however, also have a 2nd place finish here in 2012.
Sergio Garcia (+2800 at PaddyPower) Like The British Open, this is another event at which Sergio flourishes. He was 2nd in 2007, won in 2008, and has three consecutive Top-10's the last three years including another 2nd place last season. Fresh off of The Kentucky Derby, El Nino is definitely a horse for this course.
Adam Scott (+2800 at William Hill) Scotty will be playing in his 15th Players Championship this week. He won in 2004, has two additional Top-10's and three Top-20's. With the way he had been going in Florida earlier this year, he could be due for another big showing in The Sunshine State.
Honorable Mention: Branden Grace (+3000 on the betting odds)
The Long Shots
Russell Knox (+6600 at Coral) Knox has an extremely tight game as he is very accurate off of the tee, is one of the best on Tour in Greens In Regulation, and hits the ball close to the hole. Note he also finished 2nd a month ago at Harbour Town, another Pete Dye design.
Russell Henley (+11000 at Bet365) One hundred to one is indeed a LONG shot but Henley does everything well one needs to do at TPC Sawgrass to win. He was cut in his rookie attempt but since has finished 17th and 24th. He also finished 23rd a month ago at Pete Dye's Harbour Town.
Patton Kizzire (+10000 at Coral) While we're at it, how about another one hundred to one shot? Kizzire has the game for this course and turned a nice week at Harbour Town himself, finishing 14th. He has not played The Stadium Course but on The Valley Course, at the same location, hosting last year's Web.com Tour Championship, he finished 5th. Emiliano Grillo won that event.
Billy Horschel (+5000) the Florida native plays very well in his home state as evidenced by an 8th at The Honda Classic and a 20th at Bay Hill back in March. He finished 17th at The Masters and has been coming into form very nicely for over a month now. He missed the cut here in his first try but has since finished 26th and 13th. I would not be surprised by a Top-10 this week and if that's the case, at 50-to-1, Billy Horschel is worth a shot and betting pick consideration.