The Players Championship Selections and Preview
We may only have one official Major out of the way, but the PGA heads to Florida this week for the unofficial “Fifth Major”, The PLAYERS Championship. The TPC at Sawgrass welcomes the players and tests them with one of the most famous holes in all of golf, the island green at the par-3 17th. Most of the best players in the world are in attendance this week, making a win at the PLAYERS among the most coveted in the game. Tim Clark is the defending champion and will face a tall task to make it two in a row against the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson along with the best of the European Tour.
The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is Florida golf through and through. The 7,215 yard, par-72 layout boasts 93 sand traps and 24 water hazards and presents a stern test to both a player’s tee to green skill and putting. The finishing two holes will likely have a lot to say about who takes home a victory this week as the diminutive par-3, 17th can be a nightmare for players and the par-4, 18th follows as the hardest hole on the course. Greg Norman and Fred Couples both carded course record rounds of 63 in the middle nineties and that record stands today. Look for a pretty moderate scoring pace with some players struggling to rounds in the upper seventies.
Make sure to log on to sportsbook.com too place your wagers. My two picks for the tournament are:
Luke Donald +1600
The winner of the Accenture Match Play is coming off a playoff runner-up at the Heritage and is a combined 43-under par in his last four events. Donald leads the Tour in money earned in just seven starts and also leads with six, top-10 finishes. Luke hasn’t missed a cut at Sawgrass since 2006 and while he hasn’t really contended at the PLAYERS, he certainly looks in shape to do so this year. Donald leads the Tour in scoring average and has top-5 ranks in birdie average, par-5 scoring and scrambling. The PGA now uses a “strokes gained through putting” as a replacement to putting average, but no matter what you call it, Donald is one of the premier putters out there, currently 13th in shots gained through putting.
Nick Watney +3300
Watney isn’t often listed with the group of flashy Euros and American young guns that are supposed to take over the game, but he should be. The WGC-Cadillac champion missed his first cut just last week ending a great run to the start of the season that saw five top-10 finishes and an average finish of 5.4 through the first month-plus. Nick has moved into the top spot in the all around category on the strength of top-23 or better ranks in driving distance, total driving, greens hit, putting average and ballstriking. TPC Sawgrass demands a solid overall game and rewards players that are versatile across the stat sheet so look for Nick to have a strong run this week.
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