THE PLAYERS Championship Picks
Dates: May 7-10, 2015
Course: TPC Sawgrass – Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
TV: The Golf Channel/NBC
by Evergreen, PGA Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
It is pretty much a given that the Tour schedule revolves around the four Major championships each year but there are a few events that stand out above the rest of the others and this weeks PLAYERS Championship is certainly one of them. It is certainly valid to look at the Palmer Invitational or the Memorial as notable given their hostsand the various WGC events bring a prestige as well but no other non-major has been able to gain the high-level profile that the PLAYERS enjoys each year. It does help that this is the richest stop on Tour and the host venue also adds a layer of special to this week. Add in one of the most elite fields in golf and you get what is so often called the fifth Major.
TPC Sawgrass has hosted the PLAYERS Championship since 1982 and the 7,215-yard, par-72 layout has seen some of the best ever hoist the trophy. Woods, Garcia, Mickelson and Scott have all won here recently with Couples and Nicklaus among the former champs as well. The 144-player field is comprised of exempt-only players and the bottom line is that every player here has earned their spot in this field. Of course, Rory and Tiger attract much of the available attention but all the best are here, including Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and newly minted Masters-champ Jordan Spieth. They will all tangle with the rest of the best as Martin Kaymer looks to be the first to successfully defend a PLAYERS championship.
Sawgrass gains a lot of notoriety simply from the existence of the island par-3, 17thhole but this course is so much more than one sometimes terrifying tee-shot. Players will have to negotiate some of the narrowest fairways and smallest greens they will see and there is trouble around every corner. Its Florida, so there is no shortage of water hazards but the sand, both traditional and waste bunkers, will gobble up even moderately mis-hit shots as this course is laid out with all the trouble in just the right spots. The scoring will be relatively fast-paced, however, as the four par-5s are attackable and those with good overall shotmaking can navigate their way around the hazards and wind up in good shape. The greens are fast but players often have success in making putts are the surfaces arent super difficult to read and putts roll true.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight a few players that we think are good bets to win. We make some picks to win outright and breakdown a couple of head to head matches that you can find at any online sportsbook. Here are our picks to win the 2015 PLAYERS Championship. Bet your picks at an online sportsbook where your credit card WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a GIANT 50% bonus on your 1st deposit: MyBookie!
Justin Rose (20 to 1 odds to win)
It has been a solid month for Rose with a T2 at the Masters and a win in New Orleans so there is a sense that he is heating up. Justin was T4 here last year and there really isnt anything to suggest that he cant produce again. If versatility is what you are looking for, it is hard to do better than Roses 41stin total driving, 22ndin greens hit, 19thin ballstriking and 42ndin putting. None of those are dominant stat but it goes to show he is relatively weakness-free and it all adds up to the 6thbest birdie average. Justin is not a great scrambler most days but he routinely pushes for the lead when he is on, effectively making the recovery game an element he can live without. Players get a nice value boost when Rory is setting the odds pace and 20 to 1 is great for a player on a roll.
Jimmy Walker (33 to 1)
With two wins and a second already this season, it is really time to start looking at Walker as one of the best on Tour, if you havent already. He could struggle this week if he gets too wild with the driver but he managed a T6 here last year that included a Sunday 65. Provided he stays out of trouble, he hits plenty of greens and then puts a top-tier putter to use. Walker is 2ndon Tour in strokes-gained putting and 10thin total putting, contributing to top-10s in both birdie and scoring average. He is long enough to tackle the par-5s and is a great value as one of the top second-tier contenders.
Matt Kuchar (40 to 1)
There have been mixed results for Kuch over his PLAYERS career but the best came in 2012 when he won and having a win here is an indicator of future success as the course presents the same challenge year to year. Matt has been good this year with no missed cuts in 13 starts but the high-end results have been a little few and far between, pushing him off the main radar at most betting sites. I think that is a betting opportunity this week as Kuchar is still a jack of all trades kind of player and can put plenty of veteran experience to work as well. He is 7thin scrambling and top-10 in both putting average and putts per round so look for him to gain strokes on the field with the putter. A good week of tee-to-green should have him in solid contention with a shot to win a second PLAYERS title.
Charley Hoffman (100 to 1)
Admittedly, this is not a good week to go heavy on underdogs as so few have been able to break out and beat the extremely talented field. I choose Hoffman because he has versatility in his game, ranking a respectable 53rdin the all-around with plenty of key stats falling in the 30th-60thrange. He does have six made cuts in eight career PLAYERS appearances so there is some Sawgrass experience to fall back on and anyone that saw him at the Masters found out how good he can be when he is right. Hoffman won the Mayakoba earlier this year and then went T2 at the Humana just a couple weeks later so his good play has some longevity to it. He also had T11, T11, and T9 finishes in consecutive weeks ending with the Masters so he is more intriguing of an option than many of the supposed also-rans this week.
Head to Head Matches
Picks to win matches based on final score after all four rounds. Check with your favorite online betting site for single round matches and prop bets. For the largest variety of golf props, most head to head matchups and most importantly, the best priced odds, check out the best betting site on the internet: 5Dimes.
Dustin Johnson v. Henrik Stenson (pick to win: Stenson)
DJ is such a threat to win each week based on his dominant physical game but he has his hands full with all the trouble that Sawgrass brings as he is outside the top-175 in fairways hit. Stenson is giving up a bunch in the distance category but is among the more proficient in hitting fairways on Tour and enters the week also in the top-5 in greens hit. These two have very similar scoring averages but Dustin needs to score the par-5s to keep up while every hole at Sawgrass is a birdie opportunity for Stenson. Style differences make fight and this one is more between Johnson and Sawgrass than the two golfers. Look for Stenson to put his better putting average to use as well and get a head to head win.
Bubba Watson v. Phil Mickelson (pick to win: Watson)
As a former champ, it is really tempting to take Mickelson as past success here is a reliable predictor but it just seems that Lefty is too far off his A-game to beat a player of Watsons caliber. These southpaws have a lot of similarities in their overall games but it is Bubba that owns advantages in ballstriking, putting, scoring and even scrambling. Watson is a turned-up version of a younger Mickelson and a tougher track is likely to push this match in Bubbas favor. There will be just a few more opportunities for Watson I feel and just a few too many bogies for Mickelson to win here.
Good luck and good golf!