Any casual fan of golf might not have watched much of what has happened since the Tour Championship last year. Welcome back.
While it’s not an official major, The Players Championship is one that many look forward to the most. Ever since it was pushed up in the schedule from May to March, it has become the one some look to as when golf really gets going.
Just about everyone knows about the 17th hole, which with its island green, is an icon in the world of golf. But there is much more to TPC Sawgrass.
Let’s get into the first of our weekly golf previews throughout the spring and summer, as we’ll give you a bit of a course breakdown and our top picks for the week and their odds.
(Forecast from weather.com)
Thursday: Partly cloudy with a high of 72 and winds ENE at 10 to 15 mph. Almost no chance of rain.
Friday: Partly cloudy early before scattered showers and thunderstorms expected in the afternoon. High 81 before the rain with SW winds at 10 to 20 mph.
Saturday: Sunny and cooler with a high of about 70 with N winds at 10 to 15 mph.
Sunday: Mostly sunny with a high of 77. SE winds at 10 to 20 mph.
Note: Course information, in part, aggregated from Andy Lack, who writes a weekly tournament preview for RickRunGood.com.
TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Designed: In 1980 by Pete Dye with multiple redesigns, including in 2016.
Length: Par 72, 7,256 yards (average PGA course length)
Hazards / Rough: Water comes into play on all but one hole (No. 8). Rough is 2.5 inches thick.
TOP 3 PICKS
Note: Odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook.
Odds: +1400 to win (A $100 bet would win $1,400); +450 to finish top 5; +230 to finish top 10; +110 to finish top 20
Our take: The first thing to look at in majors (or near majors in this case) is course history. The second thing is how has the player performed as of late. Thomas checks both boxes.
In his past four tournaments played over the past six weeks, Thomas has finished 21st, 20th, fourth and 25th. He won at Sawgrass two years ago and finished 11th in 2018.
Although his putter hasn’t been great as of late, what should matter most – especially on Thursday and Friday – is to be able to go with the flow when it comes to winds, which will be much lighter on Friday when he tees off early in the morning.
Odds: +900 to win; +230 to finish top 5; +120 to finish top 10; -175 to finish top 20
Our take: Who in their right mind wouldn’t give McIlroy a 1-in-9 shot to win ANY tournament? He already has won here – in 2019 – and finished in the top 10 three straight years from 2013 to 2015.
Why he isn’t first on our list is because not only is he playing Thursday morning / Friday afternoon and could have his second round delayed into Saturday, he is paired with Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm, which could be enough of a distraction to take away from his game just a bit.
Odds: +2500 to win; +550 to finish top 5; +275 to finish top 10; +125 to finish top 20
Our take: One could argue no one other than Jon Rahm has played as well as Day over the past two months. Flying quietly under the radar, he has four straight top-10 finishes, and to go with it, he has two top-10 finishes at Sawgrass in his past four starts here.
Like Thomas, he has the more desirable Thursday afternoon / Friday morning tee time, and by Friday afternoon, his live odds should be well below what they are in pre-market. Day could be the best value on the board.
(+2500 or higher)
Odds: +4000 to win; +850 to finish top 5; +360 to finish top 10; +180 to finish top 20
Our take: Another player who has played well as of late and has favorable start times – in the afternoon on Thursday and morning on Friday.
He has three top-20 finishes in his past four starts and two top-10 finishes here in four starts with the other two at 16th and 29th.