Rose To Bloom In Players Championship
The Players Championship’s status as the unofficial ‘fifth Major’ has been questioned in recent years, but once again all of the world’s best players will be lining up this week to play for golf’s biggest prize fund.
For most of its history this tournament was dominated by home players, but the balance has shifted and six of the last ten winners have come from outside of the United States.
The TPC at Sawgrass is an idiosyncratic, fiendishly tricky venue, famous for the seventeenth hole, the ‘Island Green’, a 78 foot green almost entirely surrounded by water. The course isn’t long by modern standards and favours accurate players who can shape the ball both ways and scramble well. The frequently strong winds are an added complication and plenty of course experience is a must.
In The Bunker
Rory McIlroy was at his brilliant best again at the weekend, seeing off Gary Woodland to lift the WGC World Match-Play. If you’d backed him blind in every tournament so far this year, you’d have made a profit and there will be plenty of punters lumping on again this week, but that isn’t likely to be a sensible policy in the long run.
He is a short-priced 7/1 along with Jordan Spieth this week and with the two of them making the market, there is likely to be better value elsewhere.
Justin Rose had a quiet start to the season, but he peaked when it mattered at the Masters, chasing home Jordan Spieth to finish second at Augusta, and then followed up with victory in Louisiana at the Zurich Classic.
He struggled for many years to master this course, but his fourth place last year was his best effort by a long way and in his current form, he is a good bet at 22/1 to build on that this year.
Jim Furyk returned to form in spectacular fashion to win the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town prior and then reached the semi-finals of the WGC World Matchplay where he came close to beating Rory McIlroy. He has never won the Players Championship, but he has four top tens to his name, including last year when he finished second behind Martin Kaymer. The course plays to his strengths and he’s a solid bet at 28/1.
After a good start to the year, Matt Kuchar’s form had dipped, but he showed signs of promise at the RBC Heritage, where consistent scoring saw him break into the top five. He was disappointing in the WGC World Match Play last week but he’s one of a handful of players who’ve done consistently well at Sawgrass, winning there in 2012 and scoring a number of top twenty finishes. At 40/1 he offers plenty of value.
*Prices correct at time of publication.