2019 Players Championship Betting Preview

2019 Players Championship Betting Preview

Players Championship

The Tour returns to PGA National this week, for the 49threnewal of the Honda Classic, which is the first event of the Florida Swing. This course, which was designed by the legendary, Jack Nicklaus has been known to provide the players with a stern test over the last 12 years, as have the tough February/March conditions that can come into play, with the wind often a big factor here.

“The Bear Trap” as the 15th, 16th and 17th at this venue are so affectionately known can derail rounds, with all three holes ranking inside the top-10 in terms of toughness on the PGA Tour last season. Of the three the par-3 17th is the one that causes the most damage, with a long tee shot over a huge gulf of water often getting the better of even the best of players here. Rory McIlroy just last year made a triple-bogey six in round two, before making a quadruple-bogey seven on this notoriously difficult par-3 on the Sunday.

Defending champion, Justin Thomas returns this year and will hope he can take advantage of a rich vein of form, to successfully defend a PGA Tour title for the second time in his career. Back-to-back winner of the CIMB Classic in 2015-2016, which were his first two PGA Tour wins, Thomas will be looking to make it ten wins on Tour with victory this week. After opening with a round of 66 in Mexico last week, it looked for all the world that Thomas would post his third-straight top-3 finish and fourth in five starts in 2019, but instead had to settle for a T9 finish. Following his strong opening-round last week, Thomas struggled to rounds of 73 and 74 on Friday and Saturday but a final-round 62 ensured he kept the top-10 streak alive. Last year Thomas came into this week with course form of MC-3-MC here at PGA National, and now it reads MC-3-MC-1, it’s clearly been boom or bust for Thomas, who lives 5 minutes from the course. Expect that boom or bust form to change this week, as Thomas is on track to put in a third impressive finish in five starts here, and possibly a second win.

Another player with local ties, who also has a win to his name here is 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open winner, Rickie Fowler. He won this event in 2017, with a resounding 4-stroke victory over Morgan Hoffman and Gary Woodland, but his title defence in 2018 ended up in a missed cut. In nine starts here Fowler has a win, two more top-10’s and a further two top-25’s, after starting with two missed cuts here. Whilst he was average in Mexico last week (T36), Fowler has a win and two top-5’s to his name already this season, so a return to a course where he’s succeeded in the past, may well yield another positive result.

The superstar’s with local ties to this course does not stop at two, as World No.4, Brooks Koepka returns to play in this event for a fifth time, and will be hoping for more success this time around. In four starts here, Koepka has never finished better than the T26 he posted in 2016, when he posed no threat to the leaders. He’s a much improved player these days, but given his form in 2019 it seems unlikely he is going to make a significant improvement on his course form here. Whilst he started the new season with a win at the CJ Cup, since the turn of the calendar year, Koepka has finished 24th in a 33-man field in Hawaii, T57 in Saudi Arabia and T27 last week in Mexico. He did post a T9 finish in Abu Dhabi, but has failed to follow that up, and although he got better every round last week, it feels like his game is some way off winning. Of course as is the case with any player who possesses as much ability as Koepka does, his form can change in an instant, and his course form or lack of will not faze him either. A career-best finish at this event isn’t out of the question, even if a win looks unlikely at the moment.

Any concerns that Sergio Garcia was going to let the incident in Saudi Arabia get to him are now over, after the Spaniard finished in a tie for 6th in Mexico, and he can put the criticism further behind with a win this week. In eight starts at this course, Garcia has never missed the cut and has also finished inside the top-14 in three of his last five starts here. Whilst he has not won here, Garcia was 2nd behind Adam Scott in 2016, and given his current form he has every chance of emulating that success this week and win on American soil for the first time since his 2017 Masters victory.

Talking of Adam Scott, the Australian comes into this week with plenty of form behind him, and it appears he is about ready to put a tough couple of years behind him. Scott has not won since his victory over Garcia here three years ago, but was T7 last time out at Riviera, where he had every chance of winning, and was also 2nd at Torrey Pines, making it three top-10’s in six starts this season. He finished T13 here 12 months ago, when out of sorts, and that was his fourth straight top-14 finish here (13-14-1-12) since 2014. Given his liking for the course and his current resurgence, it would be no surprise to see Scott back in the winners’ circle for the first time since his two-win season in 2016.

Gary Woodland has never missed a cut at this course, and whilst most of his results have been fairly middling, he does have two standout performances. In 2011 he finished in a tie for 6th and added to that impressive performance when finishing in a tie for 2nd behind Fowler in 2017, albeit a good four strokes back. Woodland was typically solid last week in Mexico, finishing in a tie for 17th, but never really threatened, so he’ll be looking forward to edging closer here at PGA National. Twice a runner-up already this season, Woodland will be hoping for back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in his career, something his spectacular consistency deserves.

Dark Horses

Luke List lost out to Justin Thomas in a play-off last year, and that was his second top-10 in his last three starts at PGA National. Four starts here in total, List has made his last three cuts after missing the cut on debut, and he will be keen to keep up his form here this week. Two great rounds at Riviera (a 66 and a 68) helped him to a T15 finish last time out, and he’s also finished T4 twice earlier in the season at the Safeway Open and The RSM Classic, so he has that helpful combination of course and current form. He looks to have a great chance of breaking through for the first time on the PGA Tour.

Graeme McDowell has enjoyed a decent start to the new season, and for a man who will be desperate to make his way into the Open Championship field at Royal Portrush this year, in his homeland of Northern Ireland, a win here would be the difference maker. Since the start of the season, the Northern Irishman has missed just one cut and has top-18 finishes at both The RSM Classic and Pebble Beach Pro-Am to his name. The U.S. Open returns to Pebble Beach this year, where he won in brutal conditions in 2010 and he will be hoping for another good showing there some 9 years later. McDowell has played in this event every year since 2010, missing just two cuts, and posting five top-14 finishes. A 5th place finish in 2016 remains his best effort here, but three more top-9’s on top of that further highlight his suitability to this test, and if the wind gets up it will only play into his hands further. At three-figures he looks a bet here.

Recommended Bets:

Adam Scott To Win at 14/1 with SkyBet – BET HERE

Graeme McDowell Top European at 10/1 with SkyBet – BET HERE

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