On Thursday the Top 50 golfers in the world will tee off at TPC Sawgrass for the “5th Major”, the Players Championship. This is always a hotly contested affair and this installment promises to be no different as almost anyone participating looks like they could win. Unsurprisingly, Rory McIlroy finds himself priced up as favourite and hot on his heels is the talented Jordan Spieth who is having a stellar season. The competition between these two alone makes this event one to keep an eye on but like I said before, this is anyone’s tournament to win.
Typically the course plays into the hands of those who are able to shape shots and manage the tough Pete Dye design. In the past GIR% has proved to be the key stat and players who find themselves on the green and who give themselves birdie opportunities will fare well. Making putts is almost as important though as birdies are difficult to come by and wasted opportunities are punished harshly. Previous winners generally also come into this one on the back of solid performances so keep an eye on those who have won in recent weeks. So what are we looking for this week? Basically, the winner will need a great all round game and will need to be able to keep a cool head when the best in the game are breathing down their necks.
Rory McIlroy 13/2
Jordan Spieth 7/1
Henrik Stenson 20/1
Justin Rose 22/1
Jason Day 25/1
Zach Johnson (50/1 a win, 11/1 a place)
It looks like this layout suits Zach Johnson’s game perfectly so I’m starting off with an each way bet on him. He generally fares well here and at the moment his game looks to be in great shape, making him an exciting prospect. He looked to be hitting the ball as well as he ever has at Augusta a few weeks back and although he didn’t make it through the group stages last week, the match play format wasn’t kind to him and little should be read into that. Rather, focus on the positives, those being that he’ll almost certainly rank right up there in GIR% and should perform on the greens.
Lee Westwood (40/1 a win, 88/10 a place)
Lee Westwood loves TPC Sawgrass and his performances here over the past few years make him a great bet. In his last four starts he has finished inside the Top 10 three times with a best finish of fourth and this season he looks to have found his swing. He’s made the cut in almost every tournament he’s played in and has a handful of Top 10s under his belt already and I see no reason why this week he won’t go close again. The price looks generous so I’m going each way on Westwood.
Henrik Stenson (20/1 a win, 44/10 a place)
I can’t look past Stenson this week because he always performs on the big stage and few tournaments are as highly anticipated as this one. After winning here in 2009, Stenson has gone from strength to strength and now challenges almost every time he tees off. He also arrives on the back of some great finishes and with a number of Top 5s so far this season, I’m hoping he claims his first win this week. He’s got a lot of work to do but he’s always up for a challenge and should be in the mix come Sunday. Each way on Stenson is the bet for me.
Jordan Spieth (7/1 a win, 15/10 a place)
I’ve always maintained that tipping favourites is boring but when you back a winner at 7/1 you never regret it and it’s tough to imagine Spieth not being near the top this week. So far this season he’s been unbelievably accurate and hasn’t eased up at all after winning the Valspar and the Masters. Those two wins are backed up by two second-place finishes and it seems like every time Spieth takes to the course he brings his A game. Sure, there are bigger prices that look tempting but Spieth looks to be the in-form golfer and cannot be ignored. I’m backing him to edge out Rory and go all the way.