While many will have their eyes on the Cheltenham Festival, over in America, there is the small matter of the Players Championship.
The star-studded event at TPC Sawgrass is arguably the most prestigious event in golf outside of the four Majors and is often referred to as the ‘fifth Major’.
All of the big guns are out for the four days in Florida and here are our golf experts thoughts and best bets.
Plenty have title claims
With Dustin Johnson heading the market at 12/1 with Grosvenorsport.com, it shows how open the betting is for this one and in all honesty, there are about 20 players who can say they have genuine claims of taking the title. I was very tempted by Justin Thomas, who often speaks of his admiration for Sawgrass, but he’s a tad short at 14/1 and I’m still not convinced he’s totally over his capitulation at the Genesis Open.
Tiger set to roar at Sawgrass
Instead, it’s Tiger Woods who I fancy to win the event for a fourth time. Firstly, at 20/1 he’s arguably double the price he would have been had he played at Bay Hill last week.
A sore neck put paid to his hopes of winning a ninth Arnold Palmer Invitational, but with him reporting a clean bill of health, he perhaps comes here slightly under the radar. The 14-time Major winner has shown that when he likes a course, he often plays well there time-and-time again and Sawgrass is most certainly one of those courses.
He’s in good form too, with top-20s in his last three events and two of those were at courses that he either has never played well at (Riviera) or never seen before (Mexico). Sawgrass suits his eye with there being much of an emphasis on positioning yourself off the tee as opposed to hitting driver off almost every tee like in Mexico.
He’s still the best iron player in the game and if he can keep it in play off the tee, he has to go well again. 20/1 looks massive and a few early birdies will see the bookies running scared.
Schauffele in contention
My other selection is Xander Schauffele, who I’m convinced is close to winning again. I know I keep tipping him up for these types of events, but I think this guy really is the real deal and his win at the Tournament Of Champions earlier this season, where he shot a closing 62 to win, showed how good he is.
He made a superb debut at Sawgrass last year, closing with a 67 for second place. He is about as solid as they come from tee-to-green, a characteristic which is crucial at the Players and if he can continue the form of the season so far he has to be in the mix.
Schauffele followed up his win in Hawaii, with form figures of 25-10-15-14 and in all honesty (having backed him for the majority of those), he hasn’t really played that well and has still failed to finish out of the top-25.
I wouldn’t put anyone off the 11/4 about a top-10, but I will certainly be backing him each-way at 25/1 too.
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