The PGA Tour's Florida Swing continues and Dave Tindall has three each-way selections for the prestigious Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass with 10 places paid on the Betfair Sportsbook...
"Seven of the last nine winners had recorded a top 12 in one of their two previous two Florida events."
Main Bet: Billy Horschel each-way @ 71.070/1
It's been well documented that current form has been an important factor when trying to predict the winner of The Players Championship.
But we can actually be more specific than that.
This is the third leg of a four-week Florida Swing and that gives us two weeks of results in the Sunshine State to peruse.
It's important because Florida form is very relevant. Three of the last four Sawgrass winners and six of the last nine had recorded a top-eight finish in their previous Florida start. Two of those, Jason Day and Tiger Woods, were coming in off a Florida win.
We can widen it a little and say seven of the last nine winners had recorded a top 12 in one of their two previous two Florida events.
There's plenty of logic to this given the familiar traits - water, bermuda grass, wind - of Florida golf courses so it's something to take a close look at.
Looking for players who finished in the top dozen at either the WGC-Workday Championship or Arnold Palmer Invitational narrows the field down significantly.
And as this is an each-way preview and there are a whopping 10 places on offer, I'm inclined to go at the bigger-priced qualifiers from this whittled-down list.
One that jumps out is Billy Horschel at 70/1.
While he missed the cut at Bay Hill, that wasn't a massive surprise given that he has no top 10 there and hadn't made the top 35 at Arnie's event since 2017.
Before that he was a superb runner-up in the WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession, spending all four days in the top three (perhaps that sustained period in heat of battle also played a part in his cooling off at Bay Hill?).
Horschel said there: "I love coming to Florida. I'm born and raised on this grass, so I feel comfortable on it. I think in years past I've put a lot of pressure on myself to play well in Florida just because I feel like the courses set up well for me, it's my home state, I want to do well.
"So this year I'm just sort of trying to be a little bit easier on myself and not try and force and try and make it happen.
"My overall game is in a better spot than it's ever been. My short game's a lot better, something I can rely on now. My putting, I've been able to be a top-25 putter in strokes gained the last three or four or five years on the PGA Tour.
"The ball striking is the only thing that's sort of been missing and I feel like we're in that realm of getting where it's going to be more consistent week in, week out. So I feel like my game's in a better spot than 2014 (the year of his FedEx Cup win)."
It's well documented that Sawgrass is very local to him but he admitted a few years ago that he doesn't play it too often as conditions are very different to tournament week.
His record shows promise though even if he hasn't quite put it all together. In the last six visits, he has a T13th, three other finishes of T28 or better and a T37. Hopefully that's the groundwork for a breakout week.
Another plus for Horschel is his record on another Pete Dye course. The roll-call of winners at Sedgefield, the home of the Wyndham Championship, includes Webb Simpson, Si Woo Kim, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Davis Love III and KJ Choi. All have won at Sawgrass.
Horschel has a fantastic record at Sedgefield, finishing runner-up in 2020 and 6-11-60-5 in the previous four. He was also in the top five at Dye's Harbour Town in 2018.
There are plenty of relevant ingredients for Sawgrass success so hopefully this is the year Horschel cooks up something special. Snap up some of that 70/1!
Next Best: Jason Kokrak each-way @ 71.070/1
"Once we start driving the ball a little bit better like I did when I won at the end of last year, we'll definitely be in the mix."
That was Jason Kokrak speaking after an opening 68 at Bay Hill last week.
Well, he finished 5th for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee there while the big-hitting American was 4th in that category at the previous week's WGC-Workday Championship.
Those two strong driving performances helped him land a pair of top 10s although other parts of his game have looked in good shape too. Kokrak was ninth for SG: Putting at The Concession and 7th for SG: Around The Green at Bay Hill.
The win he referred to in the above paragraph was his two-shot victory in the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in California - his first PGA Tour success.
Prior to that you had to go back to 2011 and the Web.com to find his previous win. Two things about that though. That victory also came in Florida and it followed on quickly from his breakthrough first success. Hopefully he can repeat the feat and make it two wins in a season in 2020/21 having landed October's CJ Cup.
There's an obvious negative: course form. Kokrak had four missed cuts and a WD in his first five visits.
However, he did twice open with 69 and his best two performances have in the last two editions when shooting Friday laps of 68 and 69 before not progressing on the weekend.
But although last year's event was called off due to COVID, the first round was completed and Kokrak was nicely placed after a five-birdie 3-under 69. The signs are promising.
Last year's winner, Rory McIlroy, missed his first three cuts in this event before cracking the code and Kokrak has shown in recent visits that he could also make the jump and challenge.
On current form and with that all-important good recent Florida performance (T8 at Bay Hill) in the bag, I'm willing to chance him.
A strong overall game is needed and Kokrak's 26th place on the All-Around ranking shows he has that and 70/1 is worth a play.
Final Bet: Chris Kirk each-way @ 101.0100/1
Chris Kirk may not initially leap off the page as the best of those at three-figure prices.
But it's quite easy to build a nice case for him.
His last two starts in Florida immediately take the eye. He was T8 at Bay Hill last week where he ranked 10th for Strokes Gained: Tee To Green and looked particularly tidy with his short game.
And prior to that he took victory in the Korn Ferry Tour's King & Bear Classic.
He also owns a sneaky-strong record at TPC Sawgrass. Kirk has made seven of his last eight cuts and three of the latest six were top 13s. It will only take a slight improvement to jump into the top 10 and get us some each-way reward.
Before his fine display at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Kirk was T16 at both Pebble Beach and The American Express while he was runner-up at the Sony Open on his first start of 2021.
Kirk has had some battles: he lost his PGA Tour card and had to deal with a drink problem. However, he's fought hard to win back the former and kick the latter.
He said at the Sony: "I can wake up every day and I'm happy that I am who I am, and I have nothing to hide. You know, I just feel like I'm doing the best I can and enjoying life. It's as simple as that.
"I was about to sign up for some Monday qualifiers and definitely had already looked at the Korn Ferry schedule. Going from that to now being where I'll most likely get into Bay Hill and going to be able to play The Players and just a completely kind of back to the schedule that I've enjoyed the last 10 years is pretty nice. I certainly won't be taking it for granted, that's for sure."
That fresh perspective is showing in his results and a top 10 - and perhaps more - is achievable. Take the 100/1.
Dave's 2020/2021 P/L
2019/2020 P/L: +£13.83
2018/2019 P/L: -£338.25
2017/2018 P/L: +£362.84
2016/2017 P/L: +£1179.89