Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Players Championship 2017 - TPC Sawgrass

Often dubbed the "5th Major", The Players Championship carries a huge purse that guarantees the cream of world golf will tee it up at TPC Sawgrass this week. It will also see the return to action of newly married, Rory McIlroy and the Masters Champion, Sergio Garcia. The TPC Sawgrass at Ponte Verdre, Florida has undergone some changes since last years event. The biggest change is the reseeding of the greens to a BermudaTifeagle type. They are forecasted to be running at 12.5 on the stimpmeter. The 12th hole has been significantly reduced in length to create a drive-able risk/reward hole. Over the years, the roll of honour suggests that no one particular key attribute can be assigned to a potential winner. The best of them though would be approach to the greens and scoring from there. Big hitters haven't appeared to have had an advantage. Rory's form suggests its a place he could and should win on it but he makes his debut this week as a married man and I'm not sure if he's fully prepared having been on honeymoon recently. Its certainly a good hunting ground for Sergio Garcia having won here back in 2008. He was runner-up in 2007 and 2015 and has produced T10s in 2014 & 2013 also. He'll be full of confidence here.

A tweet from World Gold ranking guru,"Nosferatu" (@VC606) highlighted the 10 players with the most World Ranking Points accumulated here the past 5 years and it was interesting to see 6 of those from my own shortlist on it. Sergio ranks in TOP5 despite not having won here in that 5 year period. Martin Kaymer, winner here in 2014 before going onto win at Pinehurst (his last win anywhere) is an interesting prospect this week. At best priced, 71.00 the German can end the drought here. He's been in decent form, gradually climbing the world rankings again and he's proven on Pete Dye designed courses and on windy ones as well. He's been getting close over the past twelve months to a return to the winners enclosure.

Russell Henley is a recent winner at The Houston Open and followed that up with a T15 at Augusta. His form at Sawgrass is not brilliant although he has a TOP20 in his four visits (2014). As good a putter as anyone on tour, Henley can improve on his recent form on a course that should suit him and if we get any wind those chances can only be enhanced. He's too big @ 81.00 anyway.

Patrick Cantlay has to be backed at the price but of course I could say this about a further 12-20 players in the field who represent value this week. Having returned to the tour this season, his results are encouraging. In his four starts this seasons he has finished no worse then 48th yet has two TOP5s to his name.He came up just a shot shy at the Valspar Championship in March and just two at the Pete Dye designed Harbour Town last month.He produced two T15s at the Junior Players Championship back in 2008 & 2009. At 25 years of age, the Californian has reached 131 in the world and has secured his card for the year. He could be about to fulfill his huge potential that was identified before his back injury and personal loss hit in 2016. He won't be a 125/1 shot for much longer and I'll happily have him on board here.

To complete my staking plan this week I've included TOP10 selections with Matt Kuchar, Matt Fitzpatrick and Sung Kang @ 5.75 , 11.00 and 15.00 respectively. The American is very consistent and has superb form here having won in 2012 and finishing 3rd last year. Matty Fitzpatrick missed the cut on debut last year and finished a lowly T43rd at The Junior Players Championship in 2011 but he's a different class these days and his deceptive,yet accurate long game, can help him here, not to mention his strong short game. The South Korea cannot be dismissed lightly any given week and he arrives here in brilliant form having finished runner-up at Houston, 6th at Valero Texas Open and 11th at The RBC Heritage. The 29 year old lies 29th in the FedEx Cup. A T25 at Riviera backed up a T15 at TPC Scottsdale. A final round 77 in his only appearance here back in 2012 saw him fall down the leaderboard and he'll be keen to do better this time round.

Selections

1.00 pts e/w M.Kaymer @ 71.00 (1-6)
1.00 pts e/w R. Henley @ 71.00 (1-6)
1.00 pts win P. Cantlay @ 126.00

1.00 pts T10 P. Cantlay @ 9.00
2.00 pts T10 M. Kuchar @ 5.75
2.00 pts T10 M.Fitzpatrick @ 11.00
2.00 pts T10 S.Kang @ 15.00