Home World Sporting Events Golf The unofficial-fifth Major – Players to watch in The Players Championship
The unofficial-fifth Major – Players to watch in The Players Championship

The unofficial-fifth Major – Players to watch in The Players Championship


It is the ‘unofficial’ fifth Major in golf and according to Jordan Spieth – and he should know – it is harder to win than any of the big four!

The American is routinely prodigious at the Majors but since his 2014 debut at TPC Sawgrass he has failed to break 70 in three visits to the Stadium Course and missed the cut every time.

This week Spieth suggested the Florida course is ‘one of the toughest tests in golf, with potentially the best field in golf’ when reasoning as to why this tournament is tougher than the rest.

Given Spieth’s previous and his evident feeling that this is going to be a slog, I’m happy to skip past him at 16/1 in the outright betting.

Rory McIlroy was once labelled as a player that wasn’t suited to that Stadium Course too but he’s taken time to learn and could soon conquer this track.

He’s got an enviable record at Sawgrass since 2013 with three top-10s and a scoring average of 70.55. At 14/1 and with plenty of positives this season, McIlroy is favoured amongst the market leaders to make a run at this coveted crown.

We’ll also see former Players’ champions high in the betting, with Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler at 28/1 and 20/1 respectively.

On recent form the Swede is well worth a punt coming to this layout on which he has thrived. The 2009 winner is third in the tournament’s all-time earnings and comes here having posted top-10’s in each of his last three individual events.

There is no reason that Stenson won’t make another solid bid at Sawgrass.

Fowler, meanwhile, finds himself in the marquee grouping on days one and two, alongside gunslingers Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

The latter is a two-time winner here and bids to emulate Jack Nicklaus as the second player to win three times.

Woods putted too poorly to contend at the Wells Fargo last time out but he hints in the lead-up that caddie Joey LaCava convinced him during his 2013 win at that this course was perfect for his game.

If the short stick complies, we have seen more than enough from Tiger this season to suggest he’ll outrun odds of 35/1 to win here again.

Mickelson and Fowler, both former winners, have surprisingly patchy overall track records at Sawgrass, so Woods could be worth punting in their three-ball pairings Thursday and Friday.

At 57/1 Webb Simpson could be also be worth a small wager. The American has long been a sound ball striker but his putting is now becoming more reliable. He’s twice finished inside the top-20 at Sawgrass – including last year – and if his putting gains continue, he could be a contender.

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Enda McElhinney Our racing expert, Enda studies cards in both England and Ireland on a daily basis and knows all the details you need to know when trying to select a winner. He is also a regular football writer and has strong knowledge of the Scottish game, with golf another specialised sport on his CV.