Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: US PGA TOUR: The Players Championship

US PGA TOUR: The Players Championship

Damien Kayat previews The Players Championship taking place at The Stadium Course, TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2021 US PGA Tour
The Players Championship
The Stadium Course, TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Verda Beach, Florida
11-14th March

Bryson DeChambeau managed to survive the elements and hold off the challenge of grizzled veteran Lee Westwood last week, claiming a nail-biting victory at Bay Hill.  The tour now returns to one of the most iconic venues in American sport: TPC Sawgrass.  Gareth Bale had a replica of the 17th hole constructed in his back-garden in Spain (the landscaping travails of the super-rich).  This year’s event has added relevance, as it was at this very event last year that the PGA Tour was forced to grind to a halt.  Hideki Matsuyama shot a course record 63 for the club-house lead after the first round.  And that would be that.  Rory McIlroy was the last champion here in 2019 and will be looking forward to a long-awaited title defence (much like Shane Lowry at this year’s Open Championship).   

Statistically speaking, this is the strongest line-up in the golfing world.  The exemption list for this event really narrows it down to the best 144 players on the planet.  49 of the world’s top 50 will be in contention this week.  Matthew Wolff has opted to skip the event following his embarrassing opening 83 at the Workday Championship.  Some reports seem to suggest that things may not be going great off the course for the young American (the heady combination of new fame and social isolation would be tough for anyone to take).  The late Pete and Alice Dye are the creators of this masterpiece, the permanent host of this event since 1982. 

The TPC Stadium Course at Sawgrass was constructed in 1980 specifically to cater for this event.  This design really opens itself up to a variety of golfers, with the metronomic, accurate types given the chance to compete with the bombers.  Finding the fairway here is critical on many holes.  Moreover, it’s important to find the right section of the fairways, allowing for an easier approach into the holes.  Finding greens in regulation is perhaps the most vital component for success here.  Take Matsuyama for example.  His putting is almost comically poor on tour.  But he was able to surge up the leader-board last year due to his pinpoint mid to long iron-play.  Course experience around Sawgrass has proved essential in recent years.  One final thing to consider this week: this is not a Bermuda grass Sawgrass this week.  The conditions in Florida at this time of year are too cool for Bermuda to thrive.  The fairways are ryegrass while the greens are a mix of bentgrass and poa trivialis.

Outside of Woods and Wolff, this is really a spectacular field.  World Number One Dustin Johnson is in terrific form while Rory has been knocking on the door recently.  Bryson DeChambeau has started to find some consistency while Jon Rahm is desperately looking for something to happen.  Obviously, the likes of Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele will always be a factor.  Webb Simpson absolutely decimated this course three years back.  You also have to take into consideration course specialists such as Ricky Fowler and Sergio Garcia.  This is set to be a blockbuster week of golf, with more than a few nerves jangling on that pesky par 3 17th.  

Past Winners
2020: cancelled after round 1 due to Covid-19
2019: Rory McIlroy (-16)
2018: Webb Simpson (-18)
2017: Si Woo Kim (-10)
2016: Jason Day (-15)
2015: Ricky Fowler (-12) *playoff

Outright Betting (To Win)
Dustin Johnson (11/1)
Rory McIlroy (14/1)
Bryson DeChambeau (14/1)
Jon Rahm (16/1)
Xander Schauffele (18/1)

Value Bets

Christiaan Bezuidenhout- To Win (70/1), To Place (15/1)
A bogey, double bogey finish killed any dreams of Bezuidenhout upsetting the apple-cart at Bay Hill.  Still, a 7th place finish in that field represents real progress for the South African (who hasn’t missed a cut since October’s Scottish Open).  He has been running pretty hot of late, winning back-to-back events on the European Tour to end 2020.  He also already has three top 25 finishes this year.  His well-rounded game should be ideally suited to the challenges of Sawgrass.

Sergio Garcia- To Win (90/1), To Place (19/1)
This is a no-brainer that required little imagination.  Garcia just has fantastic course history.  He has always been a pure ball-striker who is magnificent with his long irons.  He won here in 2008 and finished runner-up in 2007.  He also lost in a playoff in 2015 and finished 3rd in 2014.  He already has a victory earlier this season at the Sanderson Farms Championship.  He also has three top 12’s in his last six events.  In his last 36 rounds at Sawgrass he is 1st in SG: Approach and 3rd Tee-to-Green.

The Man to Beat

The Man to Beat- Justin Thomas- To Win (20/1), To Place (44/10)
This has to be some of the best value I have seen for some time.  The most wins on the PGA Tour over the last five years are 12- a number owned by DJ and Justin Thomas.  When was the last time you saw Thomas at 20/1?  And it’s not as if his form has cratered.  He just hasn’t been quite so dominant this year.  He already has a 3rd this season amongst a few other top 15’s.  Thomas had to deal with both the death of his grandfather and the homophobic slur heard around the world.  He is currently 6th in strokes gained approaching the green, a stat which should prove quite vital this week.  He also has some history at Sawgrass, with a tie for 3rd in 2016.

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