Focus on solid tee-to-green performers
Bradley big each-way contender
It's celebration time this week for the PGA Tour which has reached a milestone with the 50th staging of their flagship event, The Players Championship.
However, the golfer who holds aloft the trophy on Sunday evening will only become the 49th winner of this prestigious event because the 2020 tournament was abandoned after just 18 holes - due to the Covid pandemic.
First staged in 1974, 'The Fifth Major' moved to its current, purpose-built home, eight years later and that's where the event has remained.
One unusual fact about this competition is that, as yet, no reigning champion has ever successfully defended their title.
The best finish by a defending champion is fifth, while the closest margin behind the winner is four shots.
There is no chance of last year's champion teeing-up on Thursday, because Australian Cameron Smith has since flown the PGA Tour nest to join the Saudi-backed LIV Tour, and is banned from competing at Sawgrass.
Laid out just one mile from the Atlantic Ocean, the Stadium Course is one of golf's most iconic venues.
When the former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman purchased the land on which the course is built, he instructed Pete Dye to design a layout that would not suit any one particular type of golfer.
Its putting surfaces are slightly smaller than the Tour average, along with narrower than normal fairways.
In 2016, the course underwent a revamp with the aim of increasing the number of times water came into play during a round.
This figure currently sits at 16 out of 18 holes, although the water hazards on the Stadium Course vary in size considerably.
Yet a bigger change was made in 2019, when the tournament switched dates for a second time.
Between 1982 and 2006, the championship was contested during March, before moving to May for 12 straight years.
But another re-vamp of the Tour calendar four years ago meant the tournament reverted, once again, to March - and one week earlier than before.
To accommodate this new date, and take into account changing weather conditions, organisers decided to overseed greens, tees, fairways and rough.
Switching back to March meant conditions favoured the bigger hitters, and Rory McIlroy truly obliged.
Suddenly there was less run on the fairways, and the ball didn't travel as far through the colder air. However, on the plus side, the softer putting surfaces became much more receptive to approach shots.
Many fairways subtly change direction - and some more than once - which means accuracy from tee-to-green remains paramount.
Latest betting for this week's Players Championship
Lowest 15 At TPC Sawgrass (2016-22)
Average .... (Rounds)
70.43: Justin Thomas (23)
70.50: Corey Conners (12)
70.50: Jason Day (22)
70.59: Adam Scott (22)
70.61: Tommy Fleetwood (18)
70.63: Webb Simpson (16)
70.75: Keegan Bradley (24)
70.80: Joel Dahmen (10)
70.90: Si Woo Kim (21)
71.00: Hideki Matsuyama (16)
71.13: Tom Hoge (15)
71.15: Shane Lowry (20)
71.22: Ryan Moore (18)
71.22: Justin Rose (18)
71.25: Alexander Noren (16)
Min. No. of Rounds = 10
Only those entered this week are included in table
Betfair Sawgrass Odds
Four To Watch
Keegan Bradley: Maybe not the first name you'd think of as a potential Sawgrass champion but, at No 20, holds his highest World Ranking position in almost nine years. Last October, he won his first PGA Tour title in over four years and he arrives at Sawgrass on the back of a top-10 finish at Bay Hill. Tied-fifth in the Players Championship 12 months' ago and an each-way finish is certainly on the cards this week.
Jason Day: Similar to Bradley, is another former major winner who is heading in the right direction up the World Ranking. Started the year at No 112, and is currently 43 thanks to four straight top-10s, including Bay Hill on Sunday. He's a former Sawgrass champion.
Matthew Fitzpatrick: The world No 12 finished five strokes off the pace at last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational. Has a best Sawgrass finish of tied-ninth two years ago.
Scottie Scheffler: Has pocketed 100 World Ranking points this year, while only Jon Rahm and Max Homa have scooped up more. A winner in Scottsdale last month, he tops the Greens in Regulation standings on this season's PGA Tour.
Latest betting for this year's Masters Tournament
MC* - Missed Additional 54-Hole Cut
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves
Note: Players Championship not completed in 2020 due to Covid pandemic.