The Punter

The Punter's De-Brief: Sensational Scheffler scoots up at Sawgrass and is now Masters favourite

Golfer Scottie Scheffler
Scottie Scheffler with the Players Championship trophy

Scottie Scheffler has cruised to victory at the Players Championship to return top the head of the US Masters market and the top of the world rankings...

As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, 54-hole leaders have a very shoddy record at Sawgrass but that didn't stop Scottie Scheffler, who had led by two with a round to go.

Trading at around 1.4740/85 before teeing off on Sunday, the pre-event 12/1 chance drifted to almost even money after playing his first three holes in one-over-par, but he soon recovered.

Min Woo Lee, who was matched at a low of 3.02/1, had birdied the opening hole so the pair were tied on the fourth tee but that was as good as it got for the 24-year-old Aussie who made a triple-bogey seven at the fourth after finding the water with his third shot.

Lee eventually finished tied for sixth, nine strokes adrift of Scheffler.

Hatton and Matsuyama were on the charge

Pre-event 110.0109/1 chance, Hideki Matsuyama, was matched at a low of 10.09/1 when he put in a charge on the back nine but just when it looked like he might post a reasonable target, he double bogeyed the 14th and that was the end of his challenge. The Japanese finished fifth, beaten by eight!

Tyrrell Hatton, who like Matsuyama, had been matched in running for plenty at 1000.0999/1, birdied the last five holes to equal the back-nine record of 29 and to reach 12-under-par.

Scheffler though had settled down after the slightly shaky start and despite sitting second, the total posted didn't quite look low enough and the Englishman was trading at 34.033/1 as he signed his card.

After a run of four straight pars following the bogey at three, Scheffler pulled away from the field with a streak of five birdies in-a-row that was sparked by this chip in two at the par three eighth.

Scheffler hits high of 25.024/1 but cruises to title

Scheffler hit a high of 25.024/1 after he played his first nine holes in level-par on Thursday morning but he picked up the pace on the front-nine (his second nine) to post a four-under-par 68.

That saw him sitting tied for fifth and just four strokes adrift of the first round leader,

Chad Ramey. And he was trading at around 2/1 at halfway when he sat second, just two adrift of Adam Svensson.

After the birdie barrage between eight and 12, Scheffler played the last five holes in one-over par, but he still beat Hatton by five strokes and the rest by at least seven, so it was an extremely impressive victory.

The win takes the 26-year-old back to the top of the world rankings and to the head of the US Masters market...

Scheffler favourite to defend at Augusta

Sunday's success puts Scheffler in illustrious company given Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are the only others to hold the Players Championship and the US Masters titles at the same time and he's now favourite to make a bit more history when he tees it up in Georgia next month.

Although multiple winners are reasonably common at Augusta, Nicklaus (1965 and '66), Tiger (2001 and 2002) and Nick Faldo in 1989 and 1990, are the only three men to make a successful defence so the stats are against him again.

Another winner with only ordinary course form

This was Scheffler's third visit to Sawgrass and nothing in his first two outings suggested he was about to pulverise the field.

Scheffler missed the cut on debut two years ago and he finished only 55th 12 months ago so the last seven Sawgrass winners have missed at least one cut before they won here.

Early start on Thursday a huge advantage once again

There was a differential of 2.18 strokes between the two sides of the draw with the morning starters on day one once again enjoying the pristine early conditions.

Scheffler is the seventh winner in-a-row to begin the tournament on Thursday morning and Tiger woods in 2013 and Martin Kaymer a year later, are the only winners in the last 17 years to be drawn PM-AM!

Waiting for the draw before placing your bets makes sense at Sawgrass.

Campillo claims the spoils in Kenya

Over on the DP World Tour, my pre-event pick, Jorge Campillo, won the Kenya Open with the minimum of fuss, having been matched at a high of 150.0149/1 after a slow start.

Campillo wins in Kenya.jpg

The Spaniard sat tied for 31st and five off the lead after round one and tied 21st and five back at halfway before he made a big move on Saturday, firing the lowest round of the day (an eight-under-par 63) to lead by a stroke with a round to go.

Pre-event 26.025/1 chance, Robert MacIntyre, hit a low of 3.02/1 early in round four but he never looked like winning after a bogey at the third and Japan's Masahiro Kawamura, who went off at around 75.074/1, also hit a low of 3.02/1 when he drew alongside Campillo after his third birdie in-a-row at the fifth.

Campillo responded with three birdies on the trot from the sixth and he never looked like losing after that.

Campillo was a 44.043/1 chance on Monday and Tuesday but he drifted all the way out to 60.059/1 for some reason and he was generally a 50.049/1 chance at the off.

The DP World Tour moves on to South Africa this week for the inaugural SDC Championship, which I've previewed here, and the PGA Tour takes in the final leg of the Florida Swing with the Valspar Championship, where Sam Burns is attempting to win the tournament for a third time in-a-row. I've previewed that one here.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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