Originally known as the Tournament Players Championship, this will be the 39th staging of The Players Championship. The event used to be staged in March but was moved to May in 2007. It's universally known as the games 'fifth major' and a top-class field always lines up at Sawgrass.
TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Par 72 -7,215 yards
Stroke Index in 2011 - 72.00
Tournament venue since 1982, the Stadium Course at Sawgrass is yet another Bermuda-grass Pete Dye design that requires an accurate game. Eight of the last 12 winners ranked in the top ten for Greens In Regulation and Sergio Garcia is the only winner in the last seven years to rank outside the top-ten for Scrambling.
The odd big-hitter has obliged but the wily old vet that knows how to plot his way around is just as likely to contend. Fred Funk won here in 2005 and the likes of Paul Goydos, Kenny Perry and David Toms have all come close to winning recently.
Live on Sky at 6.00pm all four days
Last Five Winners
2011 - K.J Choi -13(playoff)
2010 - Tim Clark -16
2009 - Henrik Stenson -12
2008 -Sergio Garcia -5 (playoff)
2007 - Phil Mickelson -11
The first three in the world rankings occupy the first three places in the betting, with the world's top-ranked player, Rory McIlroy, heading the list. Young Rors has only played here twice and he missed the cut on both occasions. He caused a bit of a stir when he didn't turn up twelve months ago and he'll be trying hard to make up for that but he makes no appeal whatsoever at just 11.5.
Lee Westwood also swerved the event last year and he and Luke Donald both trade at 15.5. Both will feel that this is an event they should have bagged by now - Luke led with a round to go in 2005, as did Westwood in 2010. I can see both contending again and I'd rather either of them over Rory at the prices but this is a strong field and neither wins often enough for my liking.
Players Championship Pointers
Expect a new event winner - in the last 19 years there have been 19 different winners.
Swerve K.J Choi - nobody has ever defended the title.
Now I know why Bubba's not turned up - of the last eight winners, only Phil Mickelson is a major winner.
Third round leaders are worth opposing - the last five have all failed to convert.
Course experience key - Henrik Stenson was playing Sawgrass for just the fourth time when he won but the average number of tournament starts of the last seven winners is 9.57.
Don't be afraid to back an outsider - the list of past winners contains plenty of shock winners. I can't imagine too many picked out the likes of Craig Perks or Fred Funk and although I have fond memories of backing Stephen Ames in 2006, he went off at 170.0.
I wasn't go to play Phil Mickelson after last week's disappointing effort but I simply can't leave him out of calculations at 25.0, now he's been allocated what could be the favourable draw of afternoon-morning. I have only had a modest wager on Lefty but he's too big to leave out from the get-go.
Louis Oosthuizen was the first player I backed this week and I'm in total agreement with Mike Norman, I just couldn't understand the price either. With just one missed cut appearance at Sawgrass he hardly fits the profile of recent winners but is there anyone in the field that can boast better recent form? He led the Shell Houston Open with a round to go before finishing third. A week later, he lost in a playoff at the Masters to Bubba and the week after that he won in Malaysia. He could be a bit rusty after a few weeks off but I thought he was considerably over-priced at 48.0.
Ben Crane has an impressive bank of course form and he looked over-priced at 80.0, and I'm following Paul Krishnamurty in on Sean O'Hair.
I could have backed a whole host of players quite easily and recent winners Carl Pettersson and Ben Curtis as well as Zach Johnson, all very nearly made the portfolio but my only other picks from the start are Aaron Baddeley and Brian Gay.
Whether I've done the right thing or not I don't know but I've finally bit the bullet and joined Twitter and Bads is my first Twitter-guided wager. With a couple of top-ten finishes in the last three years, he was on the radar anyway, so when he tweeted on Monday that he was excited about seeing his coach, claiming he always get some good work done with him and that his game feels closer than his scores suggest, I thought he was worth risking.
Brian Gay managed to finish in the top-12 for the first time last year on his 12th appearance. He finished 4th in Texas on his penultimate start and at 380.0 there isn't too much downside.
This looks like one of the most open events of the year so far, so stakes are modest from the start and I'll look to get more involved in-running.
Players Championship Selections:
Phil Mickelson @ 25.0
Ben Crane @ 80.0
Sean O'Hair @ 120.0
Aaron Baddeley @ 140.0
Brian Gay @ 380.0
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