The Players is always a great event and Pete Dye’s Stadium course is a fitting venue that doesn’t disappoint. Every year this course throws up drama and none more so than the 17th, plenty has been said about this hole, but there is a true replica at Eagles Eye golf club in Michigan that you can play if you can’t make it to Sawgrass.
The Players now offers the highest prize fund in golf at a staggering $9 million with the winner taking a $1.71 million cut of that. The tournament used to be a warm up to the Masters and played in March, but with the move to May as a lead up to the US Open, the course now plays very differently and is much dryer, harder and faster.
In 2006 the course implemented massive changes, they tore up the old course and then brought in 26,600 tons of sand, 2.6 million square feet of Bermuda grass, 116,600 feet of pipe for irrigation, 19 acres of sod for landscaping, 200 new trees made up of oaks, pines and palms, new natural waste areas, lower-level bunkers, greenside chipping areas and water hazards. From a spectators point of view it makes great viewing and the changes are seen as a positive move by both the players and the tour.
Two years ago Jim Furyk stated that while “The Players is not an official ‘major’, the US PGA Tour’s flagship event is easily its most glamorous showcase and is now in a position to offer turf conditions that better relate to the way the course was always intended to play’.
My tips to win:
I don’t think Rory McIlroy 9/1 will be too upset losing last week to Rickie Fowler 50/1, they are good friends, but Rory’s schedule is geared to the defence of his US Open and with the form he has been in this season I can see him picking this one up along the way.
Luke Donald 14/1 seems back to his best after his slow start to the season and with a win at the Transitions Championship, Luke will want to be putting a major on his CV pretty soon. His last three rounds at New Orleans of 65,66,67 saw the lad from Hemel Hempstead back to his deadly self.
I think Louis Oosthuizen 45/1 has some unfinished business this season after just coming up short in the Masters. He followed that up with a stunning victory at the Malaysian Open to heal the wound. I think Louis is targeting the US Open this year, but don’t be surprised if he bags this one as well.
My each-way tips:
I think these are great odds for the 2008 champion Sergio Garcia 50/1 who has also had a runner up spot here in 2007. He has only been outside the Top-25 once since 2006 and finished last year’s tournament with a superb 65.
It’s surprising what confidence does for your golf game and Ben Curtis 75/1 comes into this week full of it after his win at the Valero Texas Open. He had a great finish last week at the Wells Fargo Championship taking fifth place. Ben has played six events this year, missed the cut in two and made at least the top-25 in all the others.
Outside bet this week is Bud Cauley 110/1, Bud grew up in Jacksonville and has played this course on numerous ocassions, he was also a nine-year-old spectator when Tiger won back here in 2001, sitting on the bank at the 17th. I have tipped Bud a couple of times this season, he has made the Top-25 five times, with two of those being Top-10 finishes.
For updated betting odds during the tournament go to planetgolfreview.com