The Players Championship: Dave Tindall rates the top 10 for current, course, majors and long-term form

US Masters winner Patrick Reed
Patrick Reed can stay hot in Florida
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Dave Tindall arms you with the stats that matter for a punt on the Top 5 and Top 10 Finish markets ahead of The Players Championship...

"Add in the WGC-Dell Match Play and the Zurich Classic and Patrick Reed has reeled off six straight top 10s. Two have come since his golden week at Augusta National so there's been no reaction or let-up."

Back Patrick Reed for Top 10 @ [5.2]

Day arrives in great form but driving a concern

Jason Day

After a short-game and putting masterclass - 2nd for SG: Around The Green and 8.245 Strokes Gained Putting - allowed him to take victory at Quail Hollow last week, Day now returns to a course where he lifted the trophy two years ago. But can he get away with such inaccuracy off the tee? Describing his Wells Fargo win, Day said: "This was probably the toughest with how I was driving it out there, you know, hooking the ball in the water on 14 and not knowing what was going on." He's not the only top player to have a boom or bust record at Sawgrass but the manner of last week's victory only adds to the confusion as to whether we should support or shun him here.

Last four events: 1-34-20-36
Course form: 60-1-MC-19-MC-6-MC
Florida form: 22-60-23-1-1-23-MC-17-31-19
Last 50 starts - Win: 10%, Top 5: 28%, Top 10: 38%

Patience the key for Jordan

Jordan Spieth

"I love this place. I love the golf course," said Spieth in Tuesday's press conference. "But if you're not on.... there's a lot of small areas, small areas to hit your tee shots, small areas to hit your second shots, and you've really got to think through the place and let it come to you. This is not a place to go out and try and force birdies, and I think that's kind of where I've gone the last few years that's got me in trouble. Kind of approach it from a more patient viewpoint this year." Spieth admits that nearly winning on debut in 2014 almost made him think success would come easy to him at Sawgrass just as it does at Augusta National. He's finished third in his last two regular strokeplay starts so the form is there for another big week in this event.

Last four events: MC-3-3-17
Course form: MC-MC-MC-4
Florida form: MC-MC-MC-18-17-MC-1-17-4-20-34
Last 50 starts - Win: 10%, Top 5: 28%, Top 10: 46%

World No.1 status a big incentive for JT

Justin Thomas

"You have to be in total control of your ball," said Thomas on Tuesday. "You have to be working it one way off the tee, working it another way into the green, have your distances down to where you're putting from the right spots. You can't short-side yourself. You have to be good around the greens and around the par-5s in two. It really is a total package golf course, and I've always said I love this design." Thomas sits No.1 on the All-Around Ranking this year which bodes well and the theory that he should thrive on this course has certainly played out given that he's already carded 65 twice from just 12 rounds. His third place in 2016 suggests this is an event he can add to his CV soon and a big week could take him to World No.1 for the first time so he has bags of incentive.

Last four events: 21-MC-17-4
Course form: MC-3-24
Florida form: 1-MC-MC-MC-3-18-35-3-24-49
Last 50 starts - Win: 14%, Top 5: 28%, Top 10: 42%

Rory not comfortable with his game

Rory McIlroy

"I'm just not that comfortable with anything right now," McIlroy said after round three of the Wells Fargo last week. "I'm trying really hard to hit it in the fairway and then trying really hard to get my irons on line. It's all just a little bit of a struggle." He came a respectable T16 there to follow up his T5 at the US Masters but Sawgrass will expose any weaknesses much more than Quail Hollow or Augusta National. Rory missed his first three cuts in this event but then got the hang of it with three top 10s. It's still a difficult relationship though. He finds the those quirky Pete Dye sight lines awkward and said last year: "This is a golf course where I've had to rein in my game over the years. I had to come to terms with hitting the ball in the same positions as everyone else off the tee."

Last four events: 16-5-36-1
Course form: 35-12-8-6-8-MC-MC-MC
Florida form: 1-MC-59-35-4-12-27-3-MC-8
Last 50 starts - Win: 10%, Top 5: 40%, Top 10: 50%

Sawgrass represents a big challenge for DJ

Dustin Johnson

DJ had his best Players Championship last year but it was still only T12. It just isn't a place that allows him to play his best golf. "This golf course is tough. You've got to have all facets of your game working if you want to contend around here. You've got to be doing everything well because you've got to hit all kinds of different shots, every club in your bag, and you've got to really control your golf ball. I haven't had a lot of success around here, so it's definitely a challenge for me." Some say that if he can win a US Open, he can win here but this course just doesn't allow him to cash in on his monster driving. Apart from Doral, DJ has an indifferent record at several of the Florida venues so he surely looks a lay candidate this week.

Last four events: 16-10-59-7
Course form: 12-28-69-59-WD-57-34-MC-MC
Florida form: 12-28-14-69-1-MC-59-4-WD
Last 50 starts - Win: 16%, Top 5: 40%, Top 10: 56%

Mixed Sawgrass record for previous winner Rickie

Rickie Fowler

"It is a very hard golf tournament to win," said 2015 champ Fowler last year. "It's arguably the best field in golf and one of the best golf courses we play as far as a test. It tests all parts of your game. You got to hit a variety of golf shots around here. You can't fake it. It basically will pick you apart. If you're not on top of it, you can watch someone shoot 31 in the same group as someone shoots 41, 42. It's a pretty fine line." Third in the All-Around at Wells Fargo last week and fourth in AA at the US Masters, Fowler's game certainly looks robust enough for another challenge although his Sawgrass record is the ultimate example of feast or famine as he has a win and a second along with five flops.

Last four events: 21-2-43-14
Course form: 60-MC-1-MC-MC-2-MC-MC
Florida form: 14-MC-60-12-1-MC-8-6-1-29
Last 50 starts - Win: 2%, Top 5: 24%, Top 10: 36%

In-form Rahm aiming to stick to his strategy

Jon Rahm

Rahm had a very mixed Sawgrass debut last year. He opened with a 68 to be third after round one, added a 72 to still be in the top 10 at halfway but then failed to make it through to the final day after ballooning to an 80 on Saturday. Discussing that first look, he said: "I played great the first two days. I just have no idea what happened on Saturday, which I ended up shooting 80 something, kind of forgot what the 80 number was. But it's a placement course. You don't need to hit it long. Long length is completely eliminated on this course. So you just need to place it off the tee and then have a really good iron week. A lot of patience, stick to the strategy, and sometimes just to know that having a longer iron out of the fairway might be better than having a wedge out of the rough. It's as simple as that." With a win (home Spanish Open) and a fourth (US Masters) on his last two starts, Rahm deserves huge respect although there's a niggling feeling that he won't be able to display the patience that he knows is required.

Last four events: MC-1-4-52
Course form: MC
Florida form: MC
Last 50 starts - Win: 10%, Top 5: 36%, Top 10: 44%

Iceman looking forward to one of his favourite weeks

Henrik Stenson

At last, a top player with what amounts to a pretty consistent at TPC Sawgrass. Stenson has missed three cuts although four of his eight top 20s have come in the last six years and he has three top 10s to go with his victory in the 2009 edition. There's also a very consistent look to his recent form. The Swede finally cracked the top 10 for the first time at Augusta National, tied fifth in fact, and that followed T6 in Houston and T4 at Bay Hill. He's ranked 1st for Driving Accuracy and Greens In Regulation this season too. Of this event, he says: "It's one of my favourite weeks and one of the highlights on the calendar for sure. It's a great golf course we play. It's not the longest golf course, but you've got to position yourself well off the tee, stay out of that Bermuda rough and hit a lot of greens." Just as he's been doing all year.

Last four events: 19-5-6-4
Course form: 16-MC-17-34-5-15-MC-MC-MC-1
Florida form: 4-MC-16-MC-7-MC-3-11-28-17
Last 50 starts - Win: 6%, Top 5: 28%, Top 10: 48%

Rose yet to fully bloom at Sawgrass

Justin Rose

"This golf course has never been good to me, to be honest with you. It's been a bit of a personal challenge over the years to try and figure it out," he said in 2014 although he did post his best ever finish of T4 that year. He backed it up with T19 in 2016 and said that year: "It's a strategic golf course and my caddie Fulch and I have made the commitment this week to try and play it more strategically than we have in years past." That worked in rounds one (65) and four (66) but certainly not in the middle two (74-78). A closing 80 last year suggests that it's still Sawgrass 1 Rose 0. He's got plenty of good form under his belt this year but we could have said that so many times here before. The bottom line is that he's made just one top 10 in 14 starts in this event.

Last four events: 19-12-52-3
Course form: 65-19-MC-4-MC-51-45-MC-22-MC
Florida form: 3-5-65-13-19-9-17-MC-MC-55
Last 50 starts - Win: 8%, Top 5: 28%, Top 10: 42%

Masters champ has huge confidence in his short game

Patrick Reed

The newly-crowned Masters champion has a WGC win in Florida to his name and form in the Sunshine State this year of 7-2. He offered some interesting comments about TPC Sawgrass in Tuesday's press conference: "I think the biggest thing is it seems to be, for the most part, a drawer's golf course off the tee. A lot of the holes you're hitting kind of draws off the tee, and for me, that's my comfort zone. I love to be able to aim right and just send it. But at the same time, I need to swing within myself. Because I get to hit a lot of draws a lot of times I want to amp up and get an extra 20 out of it when you don't need it, you just need the ball in the fairway. I feel like my short game is really solid right now, around the greens here is absolutely perfect, so I feel like I can get up-and-down from anywhere." He's had a couple of decent knocks around here so a first top 10 would come as no surprise.

Last four events: 8-7-1-9
Course form: 22-MC-24-MC
Florida form: 7-2-MC-22-38-MC-7-52-MC-24
Last 50 starts - Win: 2%, Top 5: 8%, Top 10: 22%

Conclusion

It's very tempting to put my 'lay' on hat this week and Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy would be obvious candidates to oppose. DJ's record here is poor and McIlroy just isn't quite playing well enough.

However, both have to be laid at over 2/1 and that's a little off-putting.

Instead then, I'm going to back three players. If any hit the top 10, we make a profit.

Justin Thomas at [3.1] is my idea of the winner this week so this reduced ask seems well within his capabilities. Those two rounds of 65 at TPC Sawgrass really stand out and his third place two years ago adds further reassurance.

Henrik Stenson's game looks in perfect shape to have another good week here so [3.8] is very acceptable for the Swede, who won the 2009 Players Championship.

Add in the WGC-Dell Match Play and the Zurich Classic and Patrick Reed has reeled off six straight top 10s. Two have come since his golden week at Augusta National so there's been no reaction.

The American was T22 last year and T24 in 2016 and in his current form looks well worth a top 10 back at [5.2].


Dave's 2017 Top 5/10 P/L (based on £10 per selection)

Staked: £70
Returned: £0
P/L: -£70

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