Starts: 11th March 2021
Course: TPC Sawgrass, Florida
Length: 7,189 yards
2020 Champion: N/A
Overall Profit/Loss: +59.75pts
Pre-Event Bets: +60.75pts
1pt EW Hideki Matsuyama (1/5 1-10) - 35/1 @ Betfred
0.75pts EW Christiaan Bezuidenhout (1/5 1-8) - 70/1 @ Bet365
0.75pts EW Corey Conners (1/5 1-8) - 75/1 @ Bet365
0.5pts EW Richy Werenski (1/5 1-8) - 175/1 @ Skybet
1pt Jhonattan Vegas Top 20 finish - 8/1 @ William Hill
1pt Brendan Steele Top 20 finish - 9/1 @ Betfair
0.75pts EW Patrick Cantlay FRL (1/5 1-7) - 40/1 @ Betfred
0.75pts EW Matt Fitzpatrick FRL (1/5 1-8) - 60/1 @ Betfair
0.5pts EW Segio Garcia FRL (1/5 1-8) - 85/1 @ Betfair
0.5pts EW Alex Noren FRL (1/5 1-7) - 175/1 @ Betfred
In-Play Bets: -1pts
12 March 2021(-3pts)
1pt EW Jason Day (1/5 1-6) - 28/1 @ William Hill
1pt Ryan Palmer Top 5 Finish - 16/1 @ Betfair
13 March 2021 (-3pts)
1.5pts EW Chris Kirk (1/4 1-4) - 16/1 @ William Hill
14 March 2021 (+5pts)
1pt Justin Thomas WIN Only - 5/1 @ Bet365
The course played hardest on day one, with the organisers watering the greens to make them less firm following day one.
The 17th green was extremely hard and we saw a lot of balls in the water, particularly on day one. The green had been replaced the year before and was firmer than the rest of the greens.
Players who played early-late had the better of the draw, both from course setup and wind (the wind was less on Friday afternoon than Thursday afternoon). Justin Thomas's win means the last six winners have had an early tee time on Thursday.
Designer: Pete Dye
Used Since: 1982
Type of Course: Parkland
Fairways: Average width
Rough: Medium (2.5 inches)
Greens: Tifeagle Bermuda (13 Stimp)
Water Hazards: On every hole
Par 5's: 2nd, 9th, 11th and 16th
Premium on: All round game
Continue to exercise caution in relation to Covid-19 related withdrawals.
The event was played in May between 2007 and 2018. The course played slightly differently in May as the weather was slightly better and the ball flew further in the slightly warmer conditions.
It is forecast to be dry all week with temperatures in the mid-60s (F)
Max 11mph winds forecast
Max 10mph winds forecast
Max 10mph winds forecast
Max 11mph winds forecast
In 2019 the winning score was -19. In the ten years before that, scores ranged from -10 to -18.
The last five winners have ranked 6-41-73-1-13 prior to winning. You can get a winner who is outwith the favourites.
Consider events which use Pete Dye designed courses such as the RBC Heritage and Travellers Championship.
Each of the past eight champions had posted a top 25 here prior to winning. Four of those eight had posted a top 6 finish.
Each of the last nine champions had posted a top 22 finish on their last start before winning. Form counts for a lot!
Four of the last eight winners have been American.
Eleven of the past thirteen winners have had an early tee time on Thursday, this includes the last five winners.
In most categories we only have Strokes Gained stats for the last three tournaments. In general we are looking for players who are above average for length off the tee and who are ranking highly for their approach shots.
SG: Off The Tee
The last three winners have ranked 3-49-2.
The past five champions have ranked 6-139-32-3-22. A real mixed bag. Webb Simpson was extremely short off the tee in 2018 but made up for it with his accuracy.
The past five champions have ranked 78-2-27-84-71. Accuracy off the tee is only important for the shorter hitting players.
The last three winners have ranked 7-92-21. Again, Webb Simpson's stats skew the averages so we can say SG: Approach is preferred.
SG: Around The Green
The last three winners have ranked 39-5-4.
The last five winners have ranked 59-1-59-9-30.
The 5th, 8th, 18th and 14th were the four hardest holes on the course in 2019, all averaging >0.2 shots over par.
The par 4 12th hole played as he easiest hole with the four par 5s playing as the next easiest in 2019.
Water lurks on the three closing holes. The par five 16th offers birdie opportunities. The 17th and 18th are both treacherous and players are happy with pars on both holes.
Fast or Slow Start
A fast start is vital at Sawgrass. All of the past six champions have shot an opening round in the 60s and all but one of those six sat inside the top 7 after round one. It is also notable that two of the last six winners have been first round leaders.
14 March 2021, 09:15am
The name at the top of the leaderboard is the same but it is all change for the rest of the leaderboard as we enter the final round at TPC Sawgrass. Two birdies in his last three holes has given Lee Westwood a two shot advantage over Bryson DeChambeau and a three shot advantage over Justin Thomas and Doug Ghim.
For the second Sunday in a row, Westwood and DeChambeau will play together in the final group. Last week, Westwood had a one shot lead and was priced up at 5/1 to convert. A week later, with a two shot lead, he is 9/4. Bryson is a general 11/4 (he was 9/4 last week).
Westwood went bogey free for the second consecutive day and it was telling that he didn't panic when failing to make a birdie on the opening nine holes. Given his experience and the way he's plotting his way around (he ranks 1st Greens in Regulation), it's likely the others will have to work hard to overturn his lead.
Leaders have a solid record here in recent years, two of the last four leaders have converted. In each of those four years, the winner has been inside the top 4 going into the final round. With the quality of players at the top of the leaderboard, it's likely we'll see a repeat of that again this year.
Bryson DeChambeau praised Westwood on social media after his win last week but he'll surely feel confident he can replicate last week's outcome. Bryson has a 5⭐ Golf Betting Club Pressure Performance Rating and we expect him to put in a strong performance today. He won back to back in 2018, there's no reason to think he can't do so again.
The other "big name" in the fray is Justin Thomas after he shot a sparkling 64. If JT can drive it like he did yesterday he'll undoubtedly set up birdie opportunities and challenge the front two. However, a return to Friday's driving performance will almost definitely signal the end of his title bid.
A final mention for Doug Ghim. The young American has bags of potential but this opportunity may just come a bit too early. He's yet to win on the PGA Tour and was unable to win on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019. That said, we've seen some shock winners at the Players in years gone by!
The weather will be much the same as the first two days - sunny with a maximum wind of 10mph.
- 1pt Justin Thomas 5/1 @ Bet365 (WIN Only)
Leaders have a decent record at TPC Sawgrass in recent years but we're going to take a small chance on JT. As we mentioned in the blog, JT's challenge will rely on his driver complying but 5/1 is a price worth taking for small stakes. His last two wins have come from off the pace and being outside the final pairing might work to his advantage. In his post round interview he spoke of golf being "fun" again and given the season he's experienced so far we shouldn't underestimate how big an impact that could have on JT.
13 March 2021, 10:15am
Lee Westwood continued his impressive recent form and takes a one stroke lead into the weekend at TPC Sawgrass. A bogey free 66 was a fantastic effort but it wasn't enough to take favouritism at the bookies and Westwood can be backed at 6/1 this morning.
Westwood's putting was excellent yesterday, picking up over 4 strokes on the field. It's not just his putting that has propelled him to the top of the leaderboard though - he leads the field in Greens In Regulation. It was interesting in his post round interview that he spoke of attacking certain pins and playing away from others. He has a strategy that he's sticking to and there's every reason to think he can convert from this position.
Chasing Westwood is fellow Englishman, Matt Fitzpatrick. The bookies make Fitzpatrick marginal favourite at 5/1 and it's fair given Fitzpatrick pipped Westwood to the DP World Tour Championship in December. The pair will play together and it's likely to be beneficial for both given their familiarity. Unlike Westwood, Fitzpatrick has never won in America but he's a six time winner in Europe and more than capable of winning here if he continues to putt as he did on day two.
Bryson DeChambeau is joint second favourite with the bookies at 6/1 and is managing his way around the course. It's particularly impressive that he's been able to adapt his game and he leads the field in SG: Approach so far this week. However, there were a few tee shots leaking to the right yesterday and that's enough to put us off at this stage.
Sergio Garcia missed one of the shortest putts we've ever seen yesterday when missing a par putt from 23inches on the 15th hole. Sergio has missed a few short ones in his time but it was still hugely impressive to see him hole three testing putts coming home. Impressive or not, it's hard to back him at 9/1 having witnessed that miss.
The weather will be much the same as the first two days - sunny with a maximum wind of 10mph around 4pm.
- 1.5pts Each Way Chris Kirk 16/1 @ William Hill (1/4 1-4)
Chris leads the field in SG: Tee To Green this week and we like him to continue that form over the weekend. He was in our thoughts pre-event but the price shortened sufficiently following his 8th place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He's been in exceptional form this season with four top 20s in five starts is an excellent return for a player who has battled back from off-course problems. Once as high as 19th in the world rankings, he can top his comeback with a win at The Players.
12 March 2021, 01:15am
Darkness prevented the first round from being completed but with only a few groups left on the course, nobody is able to challenge the leader. Sergio Garcia tops the leaderboard and those of you who subscribe to our pre-event service will be delighted that he does! We tipped Sergio at 85/1 to be first round leader and he duly obliged with an outstanding round of 65.
It proved to be a good day all round with several promising positions in the outright market. We also collected each way money on Matt Fitzpatrick at 60/1 in the first round leader market!
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Turning back to the tournament, leaders at Sawgrass have a good record and Sergio certainly has history in his favour. Two of the past four champions at Sawgrass have led or jointly led after the opening round and it isn't generally a course to play catch up on. Five of the last six champions were inside the top seven after round one.
The concern with Sergio would be his recent trend to start quickly and throw in a poor second round. He was 3rd after the opening round at both the Dubai Desert Classic and the WGC Workday Championship. On both occasions he had a poor second round, shooting over par each time. With that in mind, we're happy to leave him alone at 11/2 for the moment.
Of the players immediately behind Garcia, Brian Harman doesn't appeal at 20/1 with a career record of 2 wins from 279 starts. Matt Fitzpatrick and Shane Lowry have concerns over their putting. Lowry in particular is putting right hand below left this week in a change from his normal left below right. It may work in his favour and we saw the effect a new putting grip could have when Collin Morikawa won two weeks ago. However, we'll focus further down the leaderboard.
Bryson DeChambeau is second favourite with the bookies at 9/1 and commands respect after his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week. Bryson acknowledged in his post round interview that Sawgrass negates his length off the tee and forces him to leave the driver in the bag. He ranked 64th SG: Off The Tee yesterday and without the length advantage we are happy to pass him over too.
The weather forecast marginally favours the early starters. It will be sunny throughout with wind for the morning players not expected to exceed 6mph and the afternoon players expected to have a max of 9mph wind.
- 1pt Each Way Jason Day 28/1 @ William Hill (1/5 1-6)
We don't particularly like any of the players at -3 and as such we're willing to go down to the group of players at -2. Jason is a past champion here, winning by four shots in 2016. He's also recorded top 8 finishes each of the past two years. His form in recent weeks has been solid but his approach play has been holding him back. The stats for round one seem to suggest an improvement in that area (he was 10th SG: Approach for round one) and we're keen to get him onside.
- 1pt Ryan Palmer Top 5 Finish 14/1 @ Betfair
Ryan has crept up to number 26 in the world and is being slightly underestimated by the bookmakers. His form at Sawgrass isn't spectacular but a 5th place finish in 2013 shows he can compete if he's on his game. Two top five finishes from five starts this year indicate he's a man who is playing some of the best golf of his career and he's worth a small investment.