PGA Tour Golf Odds and Predictions: The Players Championship Props
by Alan Matthews - 5/8/2012
It’s the PGA Tour’s “fifth major” this week as the pros visit TPC Sawgrass outside of Jacksonville, Fla., for the big-money Players Championship. I will have my usual weekly preview projecting the winner (and top American finisher) for readers on Wednesday, but because this is such a big tournament there are a near majors-level amount of props to bet. So let’s take a look at a handful that I like.
The big news out of the Wells Fargo last week, other than Rickie Fowler’s first career Tour win, was that Tiger Woods missed the cut. There’s a prop on whether Woods misses or makes the cut this week, with ‘makes it’ at -450 and ‘misses’ at +300. Well, Tiger has played this event 14 times and hasn’t missed the cut yet, although he has withdrawn the past two years. Phil Mickelson also has the same odds as Tiger to miss and make the cut. Lefty has missed the cut just twice in 18 tries here and not since 2000 when he opened with a whopping 83.
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Rory McIlroy to miss the cut at +375 (-600 to make it) is somewhat interesting. McIlroy didn’t play here a season ago but missed the cut the previous two seasons. You get the same odds on Luke Donald and Lee Westwood as McIlroy. This will be Donald’s 10th Players Championship and he has missed three cuts, but not since 2006. Westwood also will be playing his 10th Players and also has missed three cuts, with the last in 2008.
Of all the players listed above to miss the cut, I would take only Westwood. Yes, I know he hasn’t come close to missing a cut yet this year in the States and had the best rounds of the weekend last week at the Wells Fargo. But Westwood isn’t intimately familiar with the course, having played just four times since 2003 and not last year.
I will recommend a surprise as the top European player this week. McIlroy (11/4), Donald (7/2) and Westwood (7/2) are the favorites, but I like Sergio Garcia at 12/1. This is one of Garcia’s favorite courses and his biggest U.S. win came at this tournament in 2008 – he was runner-up the year before that. Sergio was a solid T12 a year ago and played pretty well in his last PGA Tour tournament this season with a T12 at the Masters. You can double up on Sergio as the top continental European player, where he is the 11/4 favorite.
K.J. Choi is the defending champion, beating David Toms in a playoff to become the first Asian winner of this event. Choi is the favorite to be the highest-finishing Asian at 13/8. But I like Sang-Moon Bae at 7/2 on that prop. The South Korean almost got his first PGA Tour win back in March at the Transitions Championship outside Tampa, losing in a playoff. He played really well in the first two rounds last week with back-to-back 69s before struggling on the weekend. This will be his first Players Championship. Choi, meanwhile, hadn’t had much success at this tournament before last year. The other main Asian favorite, Y.E. Yang (7/2), has also struggled at TPC Sawgrass with two missed cuts in three tries.
Could there be a playoff for the second year in a row? ‘No’ is at -350 with ‘yes’ at +250. History definitely says no (and really there shouldn’t have been last year but Toms gagged). Since this tournament was officially renamed the Players Championship in 1988, there has been only one other playoff besides last year: when Sergio won in 2008.
Aussies have fared pretty well in this event, winning it four times (by comparison, an Aussie has never won the Masters). The last was Adam Scott in 2004, and he is the 12/5 favorite to be the top Australian this week. But Scott hasn’t been in contention here the past few years, so I recommend Jason Day at 9/4. He’s coming off a good week at Quail Hollow (T9) and shot par or better in every round in last year's Players, finishing in a tie for sixth place.
Despite the success worldwide of guys like Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Louis Oosthuizen and Trevor Immelman, a South African has won this tournament just once: Tim Clark in 2010. Oosthuizen is the 11/8 favorite to finish tops among his countrymen, but I like Els at 15/8. Throw out a missed cut the week following the Masters at Hilton Head and Els has played tremendously since March. He enters off a playoff loss two weeks ago in New Orleans. Els has missed the cut here the past two years, but he has his game back.
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