Last week we came very close with 3 players, but it ended up being an alternate to the tournament who achieved his first PGA Tour victory. We had Stanley, Westwood and Moore all there on the final day but could not hold on at the end.
We now move onto The Players Championship. This week is easily one of my favorites on Tour, and when you watch for the next 4 days you will understand why. Large galleries at TPC Sawgrass cheer on the golfers, and getting to watching professionals struggle on a 137-yard hole is a bonus. This week we will be looking for not only another outright winner but also a profitable head to head match up week.
Let’s take a closer look at this gorgeous course that will challenge the players this week.
The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is about as nice of a layout as someone could ask for. Pete Dye was the original architect in 1979 and then redesigned the course in 2006. The course measures 7212 yards, and is a Par 72 that forces players to be accurate on almost every shot. With a total of 93 bunkers and 24 water hazards, players must be wary of trouble all around them.
The most difficult hole last year (and for the past 27 years on average) has been the dreaded 18th hole. A Par 4 that will play around 450 yards this week is one of the most impressive finishing holes in the world. Water lines the entire left side of the hole forcing players to aim at the right side of the fairway. A wayward tee shot right though will be in long rough that has plenty of mounds, causing major discomfort. The green forces players to position their golf balls in the proper place in order to have a make able putt. The 18th very well could decide the tournament this week.
The other hole everyone will enjoy is the 137-yard Par 3 with the island green. A hole that has been replicated on plenty of golf courses around the world but still gives me chills when I watch these professionals struggle on it. With moderate winds expected for the weekend rounds, expect club selection to be crucial on the 17th. Spectators are now positioned directly behind the hole, creating a more vocal stadium feel. Enjoy the 17th hole, as the broadcast will be showing it all week.
Here let me break down how I came to my selections in both head to head and outright winners. Winning at The Players Championship is all about accuracy. The course has a very narrow layout and well placed bunkers. The shape of the hole sometimes gives the players a poor sightline off the tee, forcing an errant shot. Players who find the bunkers are fortunate on some holes, as trouble lurks on every hole on the course.
Here are the three criteria needed to play well on TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course)
1. Greens in Regulation
Hitting Greens in Regulation is essential to winning this tournament. Only 2 players in the last 10 years has finished outside the Top13 in GIR for the week and won the tournament (Phil Mickelson and KJ Choi).
When we look at the PGA Tour statistics for GIR, it has a mixture of long bombers and short accurate players. Henrik Stenson leads the way but he is followed by some very solid golfers (Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Bill Haas, Brandt Snedeker, and Nick Watney.
2. Driving Accuracy
3 of the past 10 champions have finished 1st in Driving Accuracy for the week and only two worse than 22nd (Mickelson and Scott). It is imperative to put the ball in the fairway for many reasons, but most of all to avoid hazards. This course has certain holes players can attack off the tee, but others they have to dig down deep and make sure their ball ends up in the short grass.
This year Ken Duke leads the Tour in Driving Accuracy with Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk, David Toms, and Graeme McDowell all in the Top 12.
3. Par 4 Performances
Seems like an odd statistic that is extremely crucial in the tournament, but it is. Players on Tour are used to ripping apart Par 5’s and winning tournaments. TPC Sawgrass however puts a premium on Par 4 Performance. If you can maintain a score between 2 and 5 under on Par 4’s for the week, you have a very good shot of winning the tournament.
Jimmy Walker leads the Tour in Par 4 Performance and is closely followed by Bill Haas, Brandt Snedeker, Billy Horschel, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell.
We are now ready to get into the selections for the Players Championship.
Steve’s Six Pack System Players Championship Picks
The picks are available to members only. I will give out one free pick, but the rest are sent to members only. You can sign up here: www.GolfBanker.com.
Brandt Snedeker 53 to 1 – Possibly the best putter on Tour is going to have a great week on the perfect greens at TPC Sawgrass. Brandt has enjoyed an amazing start to his 2013 season, He already has a victory (AT&T Pebble Beach), two 2nds (Farmers Insurance and Waste Management), and two other Top 6 finishes (Hyundai Tournament of Champions and The Masters). He easily could have four wins already this season, possibly more if he didn’t have to miss tournaments due to a rib injury. Snedeker sits 10th on Tour in Driving Accuracy and also sits 10th on Tour for Greens in Regulation. He is 3rd on Tour for Scrambling, 3rd for Par 4 Performance, 2nd for Birdie Average, and 2nd for Scoring Average. I am shocked that Brandt is 53 to 1 this week and really feel the sportsbooks made a big mistake on this one. They have weighted Brandt too much on his past at this course (not good at all). Look for Snedeker to be in contention on Sunday yet again and roll in plenty of big putts.