2012 Players’ Championship preview
Often called the ‘fifth Major’, the world’s leading golfers head to the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass this weekend for the Players’ Championship. It’s the 39th year of a tournament which offers the highest prize fund of any competition.
Only two Europeans have won the tournament in the last quarter of a century although an American hasn’t won at Sawgrass since Phil Mickelson in 2007.
Experience key at Sawgrass
Experience is often a key factor at TPC Sawgrass. Since 2005, the average number of starts for a winner at the Players’ has been 9.57 and 2010 was the first time in 14 years that the scoring average for the tournament broke par.
Luke Donald was T4 at this tournament last year and was runner up at Sawgrass in 2005. It’s not been the best start to 2012 for the former world number one, but Donald makes his tenth start at the course this weekend and could go well at 16/1.
Lee Westwood is another man in good form and whose game suits this course. Third in the Masters, a win in Indonesia and tied for fifth at Quail Hollow last week, Westwood said: “I played well this week aside from some putts, and next week is a golf course I love playing. It suits my game.
“I’ve been in with a chance two or three times around there, so yeah, I’m looking forward to next week.” Westwood tied for fourth at his last appearance in this tournament in 2010 and can be backed at 14/1.
Rory McIlroy is the 9/1 favourite after losing the Quail Hollow play-off last weekend to 40/1 shot Rickie Fowler.
Sawgrass specialists Crane and Garcia are two to watch
If you want to back a player with a superb recent record on the tough Stadium Course then look no further than the American Ben Crane. Crane finished T6 in 2008, T5 in 2009 and T4 in 2010 and despite a disappointing T45 in 2011 he shot three of his four rounds under par. The 66/1 looks excellent each way value.
Sergio Garcia is first in all-time earnings at TPC Sawgrass with a win in 2008, a solo second in 2007, a T4 in 2002 and last year’s T12. The Spaniard was 12th at the Masters and could give you a good run at 40/1.
Former world number one Tiger Woods is 20/1 to win the Players’ this weekend, although Woods hasn’t the greatest record on this course. His only win in this competition was back in 2001 and so I’d be reluctant to back the erratic Woods at this particular event. Florida resident Ian Poulter has shown glimpses of goof dorm in 2012 and can be backed at 66/1 while last year’s winner KJ Choi is available at 80/1.
Australia’s Jason Day shot 9 under par last year and can be backed at 40/1 while Phil Mickelson was the last American to win the tournament and the 2007 winner can be backed at 16/1.