The Players’ Championship is one of those golf events where even non-fans of the sport can get into the swing of things. Pretty much all of the best players in the world are here, which helps, plus the action will unfold at the stunning TPC Sawgrass which is one of the easiest on the eye golf courses on the planet.
Most enjoyable for spectators – but not always so for punters – is the iconic 17th hole, which is the famous island green Par 3 where a massive expanse of water stands between fame and fortune and ignominy and despair.
So neutral observers are well catered for this week, but what about punters? It’s a tough contest to call given the deep quality in the field, but even so there does seem to be plenty of handy betting angles in….
Your Best Bet
Fresh from his wedding day, Rory McIlroy (12/1) has to be respected around this Sawgrass track he loves so much as he attends this year’s event with a spring in his step. With the novelty of actually walking down the aisle this time – unlike his hastily cancelled nuptials to Caroline Wozniacki, the Irishman will be feeling pretty good about life at the moment.
He enjoys the Players’ Championship too, finishing no worse than 12th in his last four visits to the Florida stretch. Such consistency tends to be rewarded somewhere down the line.
Injuries and abstinence mean that McIlroy hasn’t played all that much on tour this season, but when he has he has come to the party and then some. Four consecutive top-10 finishes set the tone nicely, perhaps the pick of which being his seventh in trying conditions at The Masters.
He may only have finished 12th here a year ago but McIlroy actually took the course to the cleaners, gaining more shots from tee to green than any other player bar our next pick. His downfall was his putter, but with that side of his game in better health this time around a more forceful attempt on the winner’s trophy is expected.
The Next Best
In an event as competitive as the Players, sometimes it is wiser to swallow your pride and attack each way value, rather than going all out for the win. Most bookies will offer six places this week, some even seven, due to the prestigious nature of the tournament, and that serves up plenty of possibilities.
One man who ticks a lot of boxes this week is Martin Kaymer, whose 75/1 quote will ensure a rather handsome payout should he finish in those money places.
The German is a former winner at Sawgrass (back in 2014), and his form of late has been pretty handy too: four top-25 finishes in six starts on the PGA Tour.
Kaymer’s tee to green game is befitting of a two-time major winner, and if his putter gets hot this week there is absolutely no reason why he can’t trouble the top five or six.
The Value Plays
In many pundits’ views (and ours), Kevin Chappell (66/1) is one of the most talented players on the planet, even if his win tally does not necessarily suggest as such.
But he ended a long wait for silverware just a matter of weeks ago at the Texas Open, and we quite fancy Chappell to use that as a launchpad for more big performances in the months to come.
As we mentioned in our Kaymer write-up, hunting down each way value is smart this week and Chappell would have delivered exactly that here 12 months ago when he finished second. He gained more strokes than any other player from tee to green, and so like McIlroy if he can heat up that putter he could well contend once again.
Our fourth and final play for the Players’ Championship is a guy who comes alive on shorter courses.
Russell Knox (125/1) cannot contend with the bigger boys in tests of length off the tee, but in more technical contests like this one the Scot really comes into his own.
His form has been patchy this term but that’s fair enough given that only some courses suit him; returns like hi third at Mayakoba in the OHL Classic and eleventh at Harbour Town Links at the RBC Heritage confirm that now can mix it with the best on shorter stretches.
In 2016 he won two events and finished twice as well; you won’t find a better pedigree than that at a three figure price this week.