We continue the Florida swing with The Players Championship, set to take place from TPC Sawgrass. This is one of the flagship events for the Tour and it brings in one of, if not the strongest field of the entire season. All the big names are in attendance outside of Tiger Woods and that means we have a ton of options in the betting market. Fields like this can be difficult to handicap, but at the same time, you can get fantastic prices on world-class players due to the amount of options up top.
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Rickie Fowler 33-1
Fowler has a Players Championship to his resume already with a playoff win back in 2015. He has the skill set to handle Sawgrass, and as I already mentioned, he is a great price in the betting market due to the top-tier players in attendance.
Fowler should excel on the Bermuda greens and the key will be avoiding the blowup holes. Last week at Bay Hill, he gained in all four categories and easily could have been in contention if it were not for carding a 9 on a par 5, which is a death sentence. Avoiding the drink and getting it rolling are the two wild cards for Fowler, but that can be said of every player teeing it up. Brooks Koepka is also sitting at 33-1, but I am expecting a quality showing from Fowler at this course once again.
Paul Casey 55-1
This number was 66-1 some places on Monday, so that speaks to the importance of line shopping and jumping on numbers when they are available. Casey hasn’t played during the Florida swing, which isn’t ideal, but we still have some positives to take from his recent showings.
The last time we saw Casey was at WGC-Mexico where he gained 5.7 strokes on the approach and finished tied for 11th. The week before that at Genesis, he gained another five strokes with the irons, but his short game prevented what could have been a big showing. Clearly his irons are in form and that is the most important thing when coming to a course that demands precision like this one does. Casey has won at Valspar in Florida back-to-back years, so this type of golf clearly suits his game. With Casey’s odds still north of 50-1 in some spots, this is worth a play in the betting market.
Russell Henley +600
If there is one thing The Players has shown in recent years, it is that guys can come from out of nowhere to get in contention and in Si Woo Kim’s case, actually take down the tournament. It is not to say we will see that this year, but there is no doubt some of the lesser-known names will be in contention and make some noise on the weekend. One guy who piques my interest is Russell Henley who is 250-1 in the outright betting market, but sitting at a very reasonable 6-1 for a top-20 finish.
Henley has had his struggles, but this is a multiple-time winner on tour and a guy who has a lot of things that should translate to Sawgrass. First off, he is coming off an eighth-place finish at Honda where he gained a mind-boggling 10.6 strokes on the approach. He has had plenty of success on Bermuda layouts and should excel at a course where length is not a huge issue. Henley has played the course many times with middling success at best, but I think having the experience is important when looking for under-the-radar golfers. If his irons continue to produce at even a remotely similar rate as Honda, then Henley has all the tools to at least hang in the mix. At 6-1, I will take a shot on a top-20 finish in this spot.
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Byeong Hun An -115 vs. Abraham Ancer
The matchup side of things will have a ton of big names going against each other since the field is so stacked. I’m most interested in guys a little further down the sheet with An in a toss-up against Ancer.
Last week, An was coming off a fourth-place finish at Honda, but was unable to back it up, finishing 56th at Arnold Palmer. The result wasn’t great, but his stats tell a different story as he gained 7.8 strokes tee to green while losing 9.2 with the putter. Losing almost 10 strokes putting is hard to do and that is going to keep players out of contention regardless of how well they strike it. Now unfortunately, the reality is An isn’t a good putter so it is not as simple as saying the putter will positively regress and everything is going to finally click.
However, 9.2 strokes lost putting was the second-worst showing of An’s career and it is hard to believe he will putt that poorly again at Sawgrass. An is a fantastic player around the green and the rest of his game is in solid shape to handle the challenges this course presents.
On the other side is Abraham Ancer who is playing quality golf and comes in having made his last nine cuts dating back to last year. He gets it done in a more balanced approach than An and relies on his off-tee game rather than getting hot with the irons. He is coming off the same 56th-place finish at Arnold Palmer, but he lost two strokes on approach and a few more with the putter. That will need to be corrected to make the weekend here as one cannot just lean on off-tee game here and have loose shots with the irons. Ancer had no problem in his first appearance here last year, gaining across the board and finishing 12th.
Clearly, you can make a case for both sides of this one, but I lean to An mostly due to his skill set translating better to Sawgrass. Ancer showed last year he can be effective, but the lone start doesn’t move the needle for me and I worry about his irons. An needs to putt better than last week, but the rest of his game is rock solid and I will back him here with the line sitting around -115 across betting markets.
If you are unfamiliar with betting on PGA, or just looking to dive into it for the first time, make sure to understand each type of bet and how to properly allocate bankroll for each. When choosing a few outrights at long odds, we are hoping to hit one of those a year, as it would pay for the entire season and then some. Think of that as the large-field GPPs where you hope to tread water and then rely on a big hit once every year or so to do major damage.
On the other side, we have head-to-head bets which naturally are more like cash games or head-to-heads in DFS where you aren’t going to win a huge multiplier of your money, but you should be hitting them at a reasonable clip. Getting a clearer picture of what each bet is like is important as this is a long season with a lot of opportunities to take some stabs in the betting markets.
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