It’s the Players Championship this week, making it two huge events in consecutive weeks after the WGC-Cadillac Match Play which saw a return to winning ways for world number one Rory McIlroy. That win has cemented his place at the top of the betting followed closely by Masters winner Jordan Spieth. Both of them have good chances of success in yet another event this season but in order to do so they will have to overcome an incredibly strong field.
The strength of the field is befitting the brilliance of the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. The Pete Dye design was specifically planned to test out as much of the players’ games as possible. Some holes dogleg to the left, some to the right; the holes are set-up to play into every possible wind direction; and, there is a mix of long and short holes. As befits a stadium course, the fans get some fantastic vantage points so will be right amongst the action for what is always a great spectacle.
World number one McIlroy has the confidence to know that if he plays his best golf he will be almost impossible to stop. However, the question is whether he can find his best golf after playing 121 holes of competitive golf last week. The Northern Irishman is very fit but even so it is a big ask to remain at the peak of his game. He also needs to do it at a course which has never been particularly kind to him. He’s 7/1 to win with every book out there with Spieth priced slightly higher at 8/1 with Ladbrokes. Spieth went out after just the three group stage games last week so has had more time to prepare for the challenges posed at Sawgrass.
The top two have such a strong impact on the betting that there are some big prices for players with a very good chance of winning. One such player is Zach Johnson who is a very tasty 66/1 with Coral. The former Masters champion has proved that he can win at courses that aren’t exactly set up for him but will find plenty of chances to outscore the field at Sawgrass. The longer par fives and fours will be a challenge for him but if he can stick with the field on those, he can out-perform them on the par threes which the majority will find tricky.
The last player with an all-round strong game who can upset the big boys this week is Hideki Matsuyama. He was well-fancied to do well at the match play last week but ran into an inspired McIlroy in the round of 16. He’s level-headed so can put that disappointment firmly behind him. In finishing tied 23rd here last year he couldn’t get himself firing so none of his rounds were sub-70. If he gets off to a good start this time around, there is no reason why the Japanese 23-year-old can’t add to his one PGA Tour win. Ladbrokes make Matsuyama a 33/1 shot to win which is well worth an each-way shot at a tough course.