On Thursday 10th May a field of 144 players inclusive of the worlds top 60 will grace the fairways of TPC Sawgrass for the 45th Players Championship. For many who watch golf around the world, the players’ championship is considered royalty. So much so it has been coined as “ The Fifth Major ”.
Last year Kim Si-Woo finished his round 3 strokes clear of Louis Oosthuizen to win the players in emphatic style. In doing so he became the youngest ever to grace the winners’ enclosure. The task of defending the championship, however, is bordering on herculean, with all players fighting to get their hands on the gargantuan purse of $11million and the prestigious ‘Fifth Major’ trophy that goes with it.
Sawgrass is known for its small challenging greens and narrow fairways designed cleverly so that no two consecutive holes play in the same direction. The 17th hole at TPC is considered one of the most recognised holes in world golf “The Island Green”. Tea to green almost entirely engulfed by water leaving the players without room for error.
An accurate game and consistent ball striking is required to navigate this difficult set-up, lending itself nicely to inform players such as Patrick Reed (33/1) coming in off the back of a green jacket winning performance at Augusta and a top ten finish at Bay Hill the week prior. Jason Day (14/1)enters the event off the back of a win at Quail Hallow earlier this month and it’s not a surprise to see him heading up the market alongside top European Rory Mcilroy (14/1)
After some time away from the game 2-time winner Tiger Woods (40/1) returns to Sawgrass to attempt to go where only one man has gone before. Just one man stands alone as the only time winner of the event, the great Jack Nicholas.
The Writers Picks:
Justin Thomas – To win (14/1)
Thomas is in fine form, a win this week would see him surpass his peers as the world number #1. A combination of distance from the tea and finesse around the green sees him well suited to the challenge.
Kyle Stanley – Each way (100/1)
Stanley is an outside pick. The last 6 months of form is a concern, he is, however, a fan of the course. Stanley, a superb striker of the ball mounted a decent challenge in 2017, it would be no surprised if he managed a top 5 finish.