The Players Championship: Rafa can shine at Sawgrass

Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello
Rafa Cabrera Bello can make a big challenge at Sawgrass

After profits in both Florida events so far, Dave Tindall has three each-way picks for The Players Championship where the Sportsbook is paying 10 places...

"In his last seven rounds at Chapultepec and Bay Hill, the Spaniard is a combined 20-under so RCB's current form really is excellent."

Back Rafa Cabrera Bello each-way @ 45/1

Main Bet: Back Rafa Cabrera Bello each-way @ 45/1

The offer of 10 (vidiprinter confirmation... ten) each-way places definitely affects my strategy this week.

There's a trade-off between those terms and price but, in Rafa Cabrera Bello at 45/1, we get a player not too far off his top odds.

The Spaniard has yet to win on the PGA Tour and perhaps it's a big ask to make this his first victory but he's very capable of running into a place - especially if there's 10 of them.

RCB has really found a groove on the PGA Tour this year, racking up four straight top 25s.

The first three didn't provide financial reward for each-way backers as he took T22 at Pebble Beach, T25 at Riviera and T19 in the WGC-Mexico Championship after recovering from an opening 76.

But last time he really came on strong to take tied third in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

In his last seven rounds at Chapultepec and Bay Hill, the Spaniard is a combined 20-under so his current form really is excellent.

And his course form isn't bad either.

Cabrera Bello missed the cut on debut despite shooting under-par but claimed a share of fourth place in 2017. He returned last year to add tied 17th, playing the final 36 holes in 67-69.

A couple of years ago, he said: "It's a golf course I'm sure you need to play good all around the bag. It doesn't necessarily suit any type of golfer. I think long players, short players, there's advantages for both types of players on the course.

"You have to be accurate off the tee, you want to really be hitting into the firm greens off the fairway, and of course, you are going to miss some greens as well, it's hard to make up-and-downs, but just course management as well is very important. It's just a very complete course and it's a great challenge to play it."

Patience is definitely one of Rafa's skills and we saw that in Spain when he opened with a 76 and again last week at Bay Hill as he bounced back from a Friday 75.

Looking at his numbers he's in the top 25% on the All-Around stats this season and ranks 6th in Strokes Gained: Putting.

We've had some curious winners at Sawgrass, those who had a reputation for exactly the opposite - getting close but not closing out well.

Cabrera Bello probably fits that description too so perhaps it's his turn to play the counter-intuitive role best this week and actually lift the trophy.

If not, those 10 each-way places are a nice comfort blanket.

Next Best: Back Lucas Glover each-way @ 50/1

Frustratingly, Lucas Glover's opening 60 has been cut to 50s but I'd kick myself if leaving him out as he's still a fair price based on what he offers this week.

Starting with current form, the 2009 US Open winner has reeled off a hat-trick of top 10s, the latest two in Florida via tied fourth at the Honda Classic and T10 at Bay Hill.

Prior to that he was T7 at Pebble.

Stretching further back, his good form actually starts with a second place at the Tour Championship, an event that was also played in Florida.

That was in September and he's only had one finish worse than tied 17th in nine subsequent starts.

Glover has rather mixed form at Sawgrass but that's not unusual. For evidence check Rickie Fowler - a win, a second, six missed cuts and T60.

Without the same ultra-highs, Glover's is very similar - a third, a sixth and a bunch of missed cuts.

But that third place in 2010 and T6 two years ago are more than enough to satisfy any course form concerns and in his current nick there's no reason why he shouldn't play well again.

After Pebble, he had two blank weeks before returning at the Honda Classic so it's not as if he's over-golfed and in need of a break. He got that by skipping Riviera and the WGC-Mexico.

Last year, when reflecting on his course for, Glover said: "Used to be just too aggressive, and it didn't work.

"It's more of let's just get it in the fairway, even if you have to lay way back. Sometimes you've got to hit it in the middle of the green, and I've done a good job of that the times I've played well here. It took me a few years to learn that you didn't have to overpower it."

This looks all set to be one of his good years so take Glover (pictured below) - who ranks 27th for All-Around - at 50s.

Lucas Glover bunker 1280.jpg

Final Bet: Back Keith Mitchell each-way @ 90/1

Plenty of Europeans take the eye, including last week's winner Francesco Molinari and my 35/1 headline tip at Bay Hill, Tommy Fleetwood, who took third.

They're 22s and 28s respectively.

Paul Casey is another to note although his price of 35s is rather a victim of the extra each-way places, as is the 33s about Patrick Cantlay.

Ian Poulter at 50s has a nice mix of course and current form, as does 30/1 Sergio Garcia.

Nearer the front end of the market, I'd rank Justin Thomas above Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson while I definitely like the chances of Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka and see both as potential winners so prefer them on the exchange, where they can be backed at [28.0] and [27.0] respectively, as their prices are more cramped on the Sportsbook.

But I want a bigger price to really try and cash in on the 10 places and surely the one is Keith Mitchell.

In two starts on the Florida Swing, Mitchell has produced a sensational finish to win the Honda Classic and then reacted to his first PGA Tour win by adding tied sixth in last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational.

A third round 75 at Bay Hill suggested it was all catching up with him but Mitchell closed with a 66 to climb into the top six.

So why can't he keep it going for one more week in his current mood?

This is a deeper field, sure, and he didn't play all four rounds last year.

However, he did get to play 54 holes before missing the Saturday cut and he'd started his week with a first-round 67.

Mitchell admitted he probably played too aggressively last year but he'll know more this time.

A big key for him at the moment is his putting and the improvements in that department have spread to the rest of Mitchell's game.

Speaking after his closing 66 at Bay Hill, Mitchell said: "When you're putting as well as I'm putting right now, I definitely am relaxed.

"Just because if I didn't hit a good shot I was okay with it, because I figured I had a good chance to make it.

"And putting has been my weak link for a while now and knowing that I had the confidence to make those putts inside 10 feet was huge, because it just kind of frees the rest of your game up."

Statistically, it was his best putting performance since the 2017 Valspar Championship where he finished tied 11th so he's clearly a different proposition on Bermuda greens.

A backdoor top 10 will do just fine this week - who knows, he could do better than that - so, come on Keith, four more good rounds please.

I'm on board at 90/1.

Dave's 2018/19 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £510
Returned: £417
P/L: -£97

P/L: +£362.84

P/L: +£1179.89

Dave Tindall,

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