I am a role model Doc. I’ve got a family to support. Hear me? Show me the money. And I know you will, starting at this week’s Players Championship.
You might think given that the venue is the same every year that it’s easy to tip winners at The Players but in reality there’s no rhyme or reason to beating the bookies as Si Woo Kim proved last year. I think that might be a function of the trend of the big names playing a very light schedule between the Masters and The Players and with the lesser names in full flight, it levels the playing field. Also, this is the final year The Players will be played in May; the winds are lighter, there’s more heat and the course is more scoreable at this point in the year. It moves back to March next year.
After winning last week at the Wells Fargo, Jason Day tops the betting at 12/1, but you’ll have to think his tee to green game will need to improve vastly to compete at Sawgrass where driving and iron accuracy are PARAMOUNT. Day won The Players in 2016.
Doc’s Top-5 Best Each Way Bets
Rory McIlroy 16/1
I can’t remember the last time I saw Rory McIlroy quoted at 16/1 for any event and after a T16 last week (one bad round), T5 at the Masters and a win at the Arnie, those odds look generous for a man with three top-10 finishes from his last five Players starts. One caveat is that he too will need to tighten up with the big dog off the tee, but where Rory actually has an advantage over the field here is on the greens. On Tour venues with Tifeagle Bermuda grass greens, nobody has gained as many strokes putting since 2014 as McIlroy. Now show me another tipster with that kind of stat!
Henrik Stenson 28/1
It’s nine years since Henrik won here at Sawgrass but he remains exactly the style of player that can prosper on this toughest of tests. Since then the Swede has four top-20’s and returns this year coming off a T5 at The Masters, T6 in Houston and 4th at The Arnie in his last three individual starts, with top-10 driving and iron stats in them all. Solid each way chances.
Ian Poulter 66/1
This time last year Poults had dug deep to just keep his PGA Tour card and contended all the way at The Players, making a gutsy bogey on the last to finish T2. This time around the Ryder Cup legend comes in off a win in Houston and T7 at Hilton Head and all of a sudden a dream return to the Europe Team in Paris this September seems a real possibility. A good week here, on a fairways and greens course, could go a long way to achieving that ambition.
Emiliano Grillo 66/1
The Players has no regard for big names as we’ve seen time and again down the years (Si Woo Kim defends) and there’s plenty of room for form players to feature. Emiliano Grillo comes back this year for his third start at Sawgrass with a solo 11th fresh in his memory from 2017. The Argentine is in super form with a T3 in Houston, T16 at the RBC Heritage and T9 at Quail Hollow where he compiled a T2 clip in fairways hit and T3 in greens.
Francesco Molinari 50/1
It’s hard to get excited about a Fran Molinari tip, but then again, isn’t that what makes him perform at Sawgrass? He doesn’t get excited while all around him lose their heads. Holds the best recent record at The Players going T6 in 2017, T7 in 2016, didn’t play in 2015 and T6 in 2014. Fran’s a massive West Ham fan too and with Premier League survival guaranteed there’s a big beaming smile behind that poker face! T16 last week at the Wells Fargo.
Long Odds Glory Shots
You can’t win a Players Championship off the tee but you can certainly lose one….and so many do. Kyle Stanley 80/1is an incredibly straight and consistent batter and reaped the rewards with a T4 here last year. He was 17th last week at Quail Hollow and looks a decent long odds shot in a stellar field. Chesson Hadley 100/1didn’t pay out last week after we tipped him at Quail Hollow but another T16 finish brings his run to four consecutive top-20’s. Luke List also quoted at 100/1with some bookmakers is another we’ve tipped of late and comes in off yet another top-10 last week.