The Players Championship Expert Picks
It’s one of the best fields of the year on the PGA Tour at one of America’s most iconic courses as the professionals head to TPC Sawgrass — home of the famous No. 17 island par-3 hole — for the Players Championship, also known as the fifth major. Just about every big-name player is set to tee it up other than Tiger Woods, who likely won’t make his 2016 debut until early next month at the Memorial. So, if you’re looking for some great online sportsbook odds, you can click here.
Breaking Down The Players Championship Expert Picks
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RADIO: Thursday-Friday, noon-7 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1-7 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com)
The Players Championship was conceived by the PGA Tour commissioner at the time, Deane Beman. The inaugural event in 1974 was played at Atlanta Country Club with the final round in early September. Jack Nicklaus won that tournament. It moved to TPC Sawgrass soon after. In 2007 the event was moved to mid-May, as part of a restructuring of the PGA Tour that coincided with the introduction of the FedEx Cup playoffs. The change gave the PGA Tour a marquee event in six consecutive months. Through 2013, the playoff format was sudden death, starting at the par-3 17th hole. It was changed to a three-hole playoff in 2014.
TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course is a par 72 at 7,215 yards. It is celebrating its 35th year as home of the PGA Tour’s Flagship event. The 18-hole record is 63, done by a few players, and the 72-hole mark is 264 by Greg Norman in 1994. No player has gone all four rounds without a bogey at the Players Championship. No hole gets more attention than its shortest – the 137-yard 17th over water to a green connected to land only by narrow pathway from the back left. A total of 45 balls splashed down in the water surrounding No. 17 last year. Roughly one of every 10 tee shots ends up in the water at the par-3 17th dating back to 2003.
The defending champion is Rickie Fowler and he’s +1700 to repeat, which no golfer has ever done here. Buried in the eighth-to-last pairing in the final round, Fowler closed last Sunday closed birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. He and Kevin Kisner then outlasted Sergio Garcia in the three-hole playoff before Fowler emerged with his biggest win in sudden death with a birdie at 17. His 5-under to walk off in regulation was the lowest any winner on the PGA Tour has scored on holes 15-18 since data was first collected in 1983.
All of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are in the field, with only one absence among the Top 30. And all but one (Charl Schwartzel) of the 23 PGA Tour winners for the 2015-16 season.
World No. 3 Rory McIlroy is the +750 favorite on golf odds. He played well last week in Charlotte, finishing T4. McIlroy is making his seventh appearance at the Players Championship. After missing the cut in his first three starts, he has posted three straight top-10s (T8 in 2013, T6 in 2014 and T8 in 2015).
World No. 2 Jordan Spieth is +950 in his first tournament since blowing the Masters. Spieth is making his third appearance in this tournament, having tied for fourth in 2014 and then missing the cut last year. He was the first Masters champion to miss the cut at the Players since Mike Weir in 2004.
World. No. 1 Jason Day is +1000. He has missed the cut here in three of the past five visits. World No. 4 Bubba Watson is just +3500 because he also struggles here. Watson has missed the cut three times in his eight starts at TPC Sawgrass, with his best finishes being a tie for 37th in both 2009 and 2013.
Expert Betting Prediction
Five of the last eight winners of The Players have been international. I believe that continues this year and like the Spaniard Garcia at +2600. He won here in 2008 and lost in that playoff in 2015. Sergio is the all-time leader in earnings at the tournament and has finished in the Top 10 six times overall. Garcia owns the longest active cuts-made streak at the Players Championship at 12. I also like a Top 10 for McIlroy and Henrik Stenson, the 2009 winner.