The Florida swing continues this weekend at the Beautiful TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida for the Players Championship. Often referred to as the “5th Major”, The Players Championship means a lot to the players because it offers the largest purse on the Tour ($15M), significantly more than every other major. Pete Dye’s masterpiece, TPC Sawgrass is one of the most, if not the most Iconic golf courses in the world and year in year out it provides us with an epic tournament. TPC Sawgrass plays as Par 72 measuring around 7,200 yards and though it is not daunting in length, it is a tricky course with an abundance of hazards that often challenges the world’s best. Last year’s event was cancelled after conclusion of round 1 due to the COVID-19 Virus, so 2019 winner Rory McIlroy will be defending his crown this weekend. Historically, many different types of players have won at Sawgrass so it is hard to predict what stats will play up this weekend. With that being said, like most Pete Dye courses, we usually attack it similarly to other stadium courses (most notably PGA West) and focus on ball striking, driving accuracy, and approach strokes gained while dipping slightly into putting strokes gained and course history. Without further ado, let us get into our picks for the weekend!
Got close to a few out-rights last weekend but Bryson closed the door on the rest of the field to capture Arnie’s jacket. Cold week after a huge weekend at the WGC but we are still very positive for the season so let us hope it continues into the Players!
2021 Golf Schedule:
- Sentry Tournament of Champions (+3.5U)
- Sony Open (-8U)
- American Express Open (-3.4U)
- Farmers Insurance Open (-8.5U)
- Waste Management Phoenix Open (-9.5U)
- AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (+23U)
- Genesis Invitational (+0.55U)
- WGC Workday Championship (+38.75U)
- Arnold Palmer Invitational (-8.5U)
Tier 1 (Two Favorite’s)
1) Rory Mcilroy +1700 (2.5U to win 42.5U)
This one is more of a gut feeling and recent success rather than a play backed up by stats. Rory has a good history at TPC Sawgrass with 3 separate finishes within the Top 8 and another T12 finish while also adding a win here in 2019. These odds seem way too good to be true for a player of Mcilroy’s caliber and though it has been over a year since his last win, this seems like the ideal spot for the Northern Irishman. Coming into this week making 8 of 9 cuts on the year with all 8 of those cuts made being inside the Top 25 and half of those being in the Top 10, Rory is an excellent form right now. The stats will not back this up as Mcilroy ranks 87th in approach strokes gained, 80th in putting strokes gained, and 69th in total ball striking, but if you have watched Rory recently there is a lot to be intrigued by. I am really focused on Rory’s 3rd ranked off the tee strokes gained, and 6th ranked birdie average to shine through and get him back into the winner’s circle.
2) Justin Thomas +1800 (2.25U to win 40.5U)
Thomas fits exactly what we are looking for in an Iron player this week coming in 3rd at approach strokes gained on the tour. Though he has not fared all that well at TPC Sawgrass, he has made all 5 cuts in his attempts here with a tie for 3rd back in 2016. Thomas is also in superb form right now pretty identical to Rory by making 8 of his 9 cuts this year (both missing the cut at the Genesis) while also having 8 Top 25 finishes and 4 Top 10’s (3 of those being inside the Top 5). Another thing that intrigues me is JT’s #1 ranked birdie average on the PGA Tour. Thomas is one of those few guys that I just will always trust in the bigger tournaments and at this price, it seems like a steal.
Tier 2 (Value Plays)
1) Hideki Matsuyama +3500 (1.5U to win 52.5U)
Oh, what could have been! After tying the course record with an opening round 63 last year, Matsuyama could not have been more locked in search of his first Player’s championship. Instead, the world shut down due to the COVID-19 virus and the PGA tour cancelled the rest of the 2020 Player’s tournament and 3 months’ worth of tournaments before returning. In the meantime, Matsuyama is in good form this season making 11 of 13 cuts with 7 top 25 finishes and a tie for 2nd at the Houston open seeing him rise to 26th in the Fed Ex Cup Rankings. Matsuyama has played pretty well at TPC Sawgrass in his young career making 5 of 6 cuts along with 2 Top 20’s and 3 other Top 25 finishes. Another play the stats will not entirely back up, but Matsuyama has been playing some good golf recently thanks to his driving and Iron play ranking him within the top 50 of ball striking on Tour. Matsuyama’s putting has not been great, but he has shown signs of life the past couple weeks which leads me to believe the tides may be turning. Great value in my opinion for a player of Hideki’s caliber.
2) Tyrrell Hatton (+4100) (1.5U to win 61.5U)
Hatton has not fared to well in past Players Championships, but the world’s 6th ranked golfer is in pretty solid form coming into the weekend. Making 6 of 8 cuts 5 top 25’s and 2 Top 10’s, it leads me to believe his steady play of late can lead him to the promise land. Hatton does his best work with his driver ranking 22nd in off the tee strokes gained and with his irons ranking 10th on the entire PGA Tour in approach strokes gained. Though the stats do not entirely back this play up, I really like the value here for a guy of Hatton’s caliber who always seem to play his best golf on the tougher courses.
3) Jordan Spieth +4400 (1.5U to win 66U)
I still do not understand how we keep getting Spieth’s odd this high after watching his magic over the past month. Though Spieth has never played well at TPC Sawgrass only making 2 of 6 cuts with a top 5 mixed in, it seems like that pre 2018 Spieth magic might be back. Going T4-T3-T15-T4 in his last 4 starts, you can tell the confidence is back and he is having fun again. Again, no stat will back this up but if you have been watching golf recently you know these odds are too good and it is only a matter of time before the golden child is back in the winner’s circle.
Tier 3 (A Longshot)
1) Cameron Smith +8000 (1.25U to win 100U)
Though Smith has not played well here in his career, the young Australian is a star, and these odds are insulting. The world’s 27th ranked golfer is in great form to start the year making 9 of 10 cuts with 7 top 25 finishes with 3 of those being top 5 finishes seeing himself rise to 18th in the Fed Ex Cup standings. Another guy who the stats may not back up, but his complete game is impressive coming in ranked 29th on the PGA Tour in total strokes gained. What really impresses me this week with Cam Smith is tied for 1st with Bryson Dechambeau in Par 5 scoring this year which is very impressive considering Bryson ranks 1st in strokes gained off the tee. Really like the odds here for a very underrated golfer.
Not going to give an explanation on the prop bets, you are just going to have to trust me 🙂
Prop Bet Time!!!!
(T20 Finishes, All 1U)
1) Cameron Smith +350
2) Tommy Fleetwood +350
3) Keegan Bradley +560
Players to MAKE the cut (All 1U)
1) Andrew Putnam +135
2) Cameron Smith -145
3) Max Homa -140
4) Christian Bezuidenhout -130
5) Carlos Ortiz -125
6) Sam Burns -125
7) Kevin Kisner -125