PGA Tips: Players Championship
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This year sees an especially competitive field take to the course, with newly ranked world number one, Rory McIlroy, part of the field this time out.
McIlroy dispossessed Luke Donald of top spot earlier in the week and the Englishman feels that the smaller greens and accuracy required at the Stadium Course plays into his natural game.
“I think it’s a good golf course for me and one that I have a good chance of winning around,” said Donald, whose past performance chart includes a T2 in 2005 and a T4 last year. “I think short game is important around here. There’s obviously — it’s important to hit greens at this course.
Donald is priced at +1400 to win, quite a distance behind McIlroy who is available at +900. Lee Westwood is renowned for hitting fairways, which will prove crucial at Sawgrass, as the rough is extremely unforgiving at Players. Westwood will also be hoping to bounce back from a disappointing first major and is available to win, at +1400.
The Pete Dye designed course, is a real test for golfers. As Tiger Woods, Hunter Mahon and Joe Ogilvie assert, the course takes players out of their comfort zone and makes them unbalanced. It doesn’t reward the big bombers: of the past 10 winners, only Adam Scott (No. 5 in the field at 297.5 yards) was among the top 10 in driving distance.
The top American players leading the charge include Hunter Mahon, who is available at +3300 to win outright. Mahon is the only player with two Tour wins under his belt this season and is well worth a wager.
In terms of a sleeper pick it might be worth looking at James Driscoll. He comes off a share of ninth place at Quail Hollow where he played the par 5s in 11 under with three eagles (all on the seventh hole)and also posting career-best splits in putting and scrambling. He enters with a consecutive cuts made streak of six; also 2-for-2 at TPC Sawgrass with a T27 in his first trip in 2006 (the last edition prior to the course renovations). Back him at +30000
Our next sleeper tip is Matt Every. The local resident is a first-timer at Sawgrass, at least in this competition. He’s made only six of 12 cuts this year, but he’s also made the most of his chances, co-leading the PGA TOUR with four top 10s including a pair in April. That total is aided in part due to his final-round scoring average of 69.67, sixth-best on the circuit. Every is available at +200.