After a two-year wait, Rory McIlroy will finally get the chance to defend his Sawgrass title. Here’s who we think might take it from him
Has it really been a year since the Players Championship was cancelled after one round as uncertainty over the then impending pandemic loomed? As the biggest names in the game return to Sawgrass, let’s have a look at who we think might win. I’ve also thrown in a few specials for fun…
The Players Championship: The details
Venue: TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course), Florida, USA
Date: March 11-14, 2021
Course stats: Par 72; 7,189 yards.
Course summary: The challenges come thick and fast on every hole, with water in-play on all but one – and that’s before you factor in the wind, the heavy bunkering, and the requirement to shape shots in both directions. The greens at Sawgrass are relatively small, and often very fast, increasing the importance of accurate approach play.
Purse: $15 million
Defending champion: Rory McIlroy (-16)
The Players Championship: TV coverage
Thursday: Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 11.30am
Friday: Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 11.30am
Saturday: Sky Sports Red Button from 12.45pm, Sky Sports Golf from 1.30pm, and Sky Sports Main Event from 7.30pm
Sunday: Sky Sports Red Button from 12.45pm, Sky Sports Golf from 1.30pm, and Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm
The Players Championship: Betting tips
Tyrrell Hatton – 2.5pts e/w win @ 35/1 with Bet365
Hatton has undoubtedly been one of the best players in the world over the last six months or so, winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the BMW PGA Championship along the way. In this time period, he ranks 15th for SG: Tee-to-Green, 7th for SG: Approach, and 26th for SG: Putting. I will almost certainly be considering Hatton for the major championships this year, so I can’t believe the value we can get on him this week. Hatton got off to a slow start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, shooting 77 and allowing the red mist to descend. What impressed me was his gritty display on Friday to shoot 67 and make the cut, putting together a run of four consecutive birdies on the back nine. This was followed by a spectacular 66 on Saturday and despite a slow finish in tricky conditions, there are certainly positives to take from Bay Hill. We backed Collin Morikawa off the back of a gutsy display to make the cut at the Genesis, so using a similar theory, I am hoping that Hatton can kick on and deliver our second winner of the year.
Daniel Berger – 2.5pts e/w win @ 40/1 with Bet365
For a player who won at Pebble Beach just a few weeks ago, Berger looks to be a huge price to take this. He has played at Sawgrass five times with one top 10 to date, but Berger has improved considerably in the last 12 months, including two wins as well as four top 10s in his last six starts. In the last 12 months he’s ranked 18th for SG: Tee-to-Green, 12th for SG: Approach, and 5th for SG: Putting.
Joaquin Niemann – 2pts e/w win @ 55/1 with Bet365
One of the most exciting young talents on the PGA Tour and, after a strong start to 2021, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Niemann challenging on the biggest occasion. The Chilean dazzled in Hawaii in January, finishing runner-up in back-to-back events and despite being a debutant at Sawgrass he should suit this test, ranking 8th for SG: Tee-to-Green, 14th for SG: Around-the-Green, and 28th for SG: Approach in 2021. Niemann has made every cut on the PGA Tour this season, with five top-20 finishes, with solid form on strategic, wind-affected courses like Harbour Town.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout – 1pt e/w win @ 70/1 with Bet365
Bezuidenhout has only played one competitive round at TPC Sawgrass, but it is that round in particular that fills me with optimism about this selection. Before last year’s Players was cancelled Bezuidenhout shot a bogey-free 65. More recently his form has been positive, with a 7th place finish at Bay Hill, where he ranked 9th for SG: Around-the-Green and 4th for SG: Putting, demonstrating his short game prowess that will be invaluable here.
Abraham Ancer – 1pt e/w win @ 75/1 with Bet365
Ancer impressed in 2019 with a solid Players debut where he finished 12th, and after a very strong first three rounds at the Masters in November I can see him stepping up to the challenge again. Since then he has five top 20s in seven events which has seen the Mexican’s Strokes Gained statistics improve from tee to green. Wind should not be a problem for Ancer to negotiate, with solid performances at the Mayakoba and the RBC Heritage in the last 12 months. At a big price, Ancer certainly represents each-way value, and if at his best he could surprise a few this week.
For more prices, visit Bet365.