Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: 2020 US PGA Tour: The Players Championship

2020 US PGA Tour: The Players Championship

The Man to Beat- Rory McIlroy

Damien Kayat takes a look at the Players Championship taking place at TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Verdra, Florida. 

Photo Copyright - Steve Haag Sports 

2020 US PGA Tour | The Players Championship
TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Verdra, Florida
Thursday 12 March - Sunday 15 March 

The Florida Swing enters full bloom this week with the ultra-prestigious Players Championship. This is considered by many to be essentially a 5th Major Championship- though I doubt Rory would swap five Players titles for one elusive Green Jacket. Originally known as the Tournament Players Championship, this event started life in 1974. Jack Nicklaus won the inaugural edition, pretty much defining the sense of excellence associated with the toughest field in golf. Having said that, the Players has been notoriously difficult to predict.  Winners have ranged from huge-hitters like Rory to the powder-puff precision of Tim Clark. This is a course that can be attacked in a multitude of ways and makes for one of the more fascinating golfing spectacles of the year.

The Stadium Course at Sawgrass was designed in 1980, specifically to host this event. It has hosted the tournament every year since 1982. The Pete Dye design is a Bermuda-grass masterpiece and one of the most celebrated courses in world golf. It is regarded as a balanced test, as I alluded to earlier.  The course offers dog-legs that go both ways, meaning players can’t simply rely on that one, go-to shot (think Patrick Reed’s Augusta draw). This is a peculiar event.  Though it boasts the toughest field in golf, many outsiders have defied the odds here. Players with course experience tend to prosper while you should look out for players who play well on Pete Dye's designs.

Rory will obviously enter as the huge favourite to regain his title. Though he will have felt slightly deflated by his T5 last week, he did equal a fairly remarkable landmark alongside golfing demigod Tiger Woods. It was his 7th consecutive top 5 finish on the US PGA Tour. The likes of Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson will feel they have the ball-striking ability to tame Sawgrass this week. Brooks Koepka is coming off another poor week where he registered his worst ever PGA Tour round. Jon Rahm led last year but absolutely capitulated in the final round to open the door for the Norther Irish magician. But in a field this strong its folly to even attempt to distill all of the possibilities.

Past Winners
2019: Rory McIlroy (-16)
2018: Webb Simpson (-18)
2017: Si Woo Kim (-10)
2016: Jason Day (-15)
2015: Rickie Folwer (-7)*playoff

Outright Betting (To Win)
Rory McIlroy (7/1)
Jon Rahm (12/1)
Justin Thomas (14/1)
Bryson Dechambeau (22/1)
Dustin Johnson (25/1)

Value Bets

Daniel Berger
To Win (66/1), To Place (13/1)
Considering the unpredictability of the Players, I had to look for some characteristic that united previous winners. Seven of the last nine previous Champions had posted a top 12 finish or better in Florida prior to success here. Daniel Berger looks like brilliant value in this regard, having finished in the top four last week at the Honda. Beyond that, that was his third consecutive top 10 finish. His ball-striking looks in great shape, though a tie for ninth in 2016 is his best finish here. But four consecutive made cuts at this beast is no mean feat. Berger putted brilliantly at TPC Scottsdale, ultimately finishing second for shots gained putting. These greens should be similarly paced and he looks tempting in the place markets.

Jhonattan Vegas
To Win (150/1), To Place (30/1)
This is an option that really excites me at a three-figure price.  Jhonattan Vegas is one of the more frustrating players on tour.  The Venezuelan currently sits 4th on the tour for shots gained from the tee. That was a stat that propelled him to a scintillating third-place finish last year: how can you forget that gigantic putt at the 17th on Sunday? But Vegas’ season dissipated after that. But he enters this week’s event in similar form to that of last year. He picked up a morale-boosting top 10 in Puerto Rico and had a top 30 at the Honda. What makes him so encouraging at three figures around here is how low he can shoot.  He has ten rounds of 24 in the ’60s. That includes a pair of 66’s and a pair of 67’s. 

The Man to Beat

Rory McIlroy
To Win (7/1), To Place (14/10)
I know this doesn’t seem sensible. It bucks all the trends.  Players don’t defend here, while Rory has never defended a title. But I can justify his selection this week in the wake of two slightly outside-the-box ones. But just look at his form.  His form figures read T3-1-4-T3-T5-5-T5. That win came at the WGC HSBC Championships highlighted his penchant to perform in the best fields. Am I perturbed by his inability to close the deal in recent weeks?  Slightly. But it just seems to make him all the more likely to seal the deal this week. The recent two-time FedEx Cup winner could cut himself a special slice of history this week with victory here.  

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