The Players Championship: Put chips on Berger at Sawgrass

American Daniel Berger
American Daniel Berger is in great form

After just missing out on the each-way cash with 80/1 Harris English (T9) last week, Dave Tindall has three each-way selections for the action at Sawgrass...

"He's racked up a trio of top 10s on his last three starts and the latest was a top four in the Honda Classic at his most recent Florida event."

Main Bet: Daniel Berger each-way @ 50/1

There's a lot to take into account when trying to hone in a Players Championship winner and it's easy to think it's somewhat impossible given that Si-Woo Kim took the title in 2017.

However, some logic does run through it and, in recent times, this has become a younger man's event with the ages of the last six winners reading 29, 32, 21, 28, 26, 29.

What I also noticed with recent Sawgrass winners is that plenty had already put in a good performance earlier that season on the Florida Swing. To be precise, seven of the previous nine champions had posted a top 12 or better so had put down a marker in the Sunshine State.

With a punter-friendly 10 each-way places on offer this week, I don't want to go too short in the betting and that's why Daniel Berger is a big enough price at 50/1 to tempt me in.

Berger is 26 and arrives at Sawgrass showing some superb form.

He's racked up a trio of top 10s on his last three starts and the latest was a top four in the Honda Classic at his most recent Florida event.

Not enduring a second straight week of strong winds at Bay Hill was probably no bad thing and he should be fresh again here to continue his excellent run.

His course form isn't amazing but it includes a tied ninth in 2016 and making the last four cuts at Sawgrass is no mean achievement when looking at the inconsistent records of even the very, very best players.

Berger has ranked in the top 10 on Strokes Gained: Approach and in the top 12 on SG: Tee To Green in both of his last two starts (Pebble and Honda) so his ball-striking is where it needs to be for Sawgrass.

The greens are fast and similar in type to those in Phoenix and, noticeably, he was ranked 2nd for SG: Putting at TPC Scottsdale.

The secret to his recent success he puts down to being clear of injury. Speaking at the Honda, Berger revealed: "Just being in a rhythm, being able to practice when I want to, being able to set my schedule and play what tournaments I want to play, where I didn't feel like I could so much last year just because of being hurt.

"It just allows you to get into a rhythm."

All in all, the planets look aligned for another strong week and I'll take Berger at 50s.

Next Best: Byeong Hun An each-way @ 66/1

Byeong Hun An 1280.jpg

We've had plenty of overseas winners at Sawgrass over the last 20 years and there are plenty of roads leading to Byeong Hun An this week.

For starters, we've witnessed two Korean winners in the last nine years courtesy of K.J. Choi in 2011 and Si-Woo Kim in 2017. And, of course, Sungjae Im scored another Korean win in Florida when capturing the Honda Classic two weeks ago.

And now another plus. Steve Rawlings in his in-depth preview points out the strong link between form here and that at Sedgefield Country Club.

That course hosts the Wyndham Championship and six players have won at both including Kim and Choi.

An went very close to a Sedgefield win himself back in August when shooting 62-65-66-67 to finish third and hopefully he can also now help correlate the form over at Sawgrass.

He hasn't produced anything significant yet but something is building. An shot a Friday 68 when missing the cut on debut in 2016, shot four under-par rounds for T30 in 2018 and improved again to T26 last year after opening with a 66.

The 2019 edition saw the tournament move back to its March slot and, with the Bermuda grass overseeded, the course subsequently was less fiery and played a little longer.

That could just help An further as he ranks 25th in Driving Distance.

An also has some recent Florida form after his top four at the Honda Classic and just two starts earlier he was also in the top 10 at TPC Phoenix.

The 28-year-old looks the perfect age and, talking of ideal numbers, his SG: Tee To Green stats look ideal as he's finished in the top 10 for that category in each of his last four events.

The former US Amateur champion was a winner at Wentworth previously and the next step is a PGA Tour victory. It's a tough one to win first up but Tim Clark did it in 2010 and An has enough on the CV to suggest he could follow suit.

Given the each-way terms, two top 10s in his last four Florida starts helps highlight that the 66/1 is worth playing.

I'll focus on the top end of the market in my Top 5/10 preview but if playing one of the favourites in the outrights I'd take Bryson DeChambeau at 20s.

Final Bet: Russell Henley each-way @ 125/1

Russell Henley has definitely found something in his game again and he gave this column some each-way returns when tied for eighth at the Honda Classic.

Prior to that he ended a run of four missed cuts with tied 17th at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera and, like Berger, he skipped the brutal conditions at Bay Hill.

At 30 years old, he's around the same age of most of the recent winners and, of course, the strong display at the Honda means he has the required Florida form.

Shining a light on that T8 at PGA National last time reveals some stats that look absolutely ideal: Henley ranked 1st for SG: Approach (10.609) and 2nd for SG: Tee To Green (9.386).

He was ranked 11th and 7th in those two categories at Riviera so his ball-striking has found a sweet spot.

As for course form, it's mixed but he shot rounds of 65 and 66 when T17 in 2014 (third at halfway), added another top 25 in 2015 and was also in the top 25 with 18 to play in 2017.

One little bonus for Henley backers is that he won a Challenge Tour event on the other Pete Dye track - The Valley Course - here at Ponte Vedre in 2012. It all helps.

He's a three-time winner on the PGA Tour (2013, 2014 and 2017) and that includes the Honda Classic so that adds to the good memories in Florida.

The 'extras' are nice but it's the ball-striking figures that stand out most and, in the hope that he produces them again, the 125/1 (10 places) looks enticing.

Staked: £634
Returned: £486.26
P/L: -£147.74

2018/2019 P/L: -£338.25
2017/2018 P/L: +£362.84
2016/2017 P/L: +£1179.89

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