Frankly, the two most interesting things to happen in golf this past weekend didn't involve Brian Harman winning the Wells Fargo Championship with a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole to deny world No. 1 Dustin Johnson the chance at his fourth straight victory.
No, one of the two stories that got more of my attention was John Daly winning the Champions Tour's Insperity Invitational. The 51-year-old Daly had not won on tour since the PGA Tour's 2004 Buick Invitational. The two-time major champion became the 12th member of the senior tour to record a win on all three PGA Tour circuits (also Web.com Tour). And at the Wells Fargo, Grayson Murray fired his caddie after just nine holes of the final round at Eagle Point Golf Club. The two apparently got into some sort of altercation following Murray's bogey on the eighth hole, and he played his final nine holes in 3-over while using one of his friends from the gallery as a caddie. Murray was just two shots off the lead through 36 holes, but he closed with rounds of 76-76 to finish in a tie for 63rd at 4 over. Murray is in this week's field, but with which caddie I have no idea.
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As for Harman, he shot a final-round 68 to finish at 10 under, one shot ahead of DJ and Pat Perez. It was his second Tour win along with the 2014 John Deere Classic. Johnson was trying to join Tiger Woods as the only players to win four consecutive PGA Tour events since Ben Hogan in 1953. It was DJ's first tournament since hurting his back and pulling out of the Masters. Johnson made the cut on the number, and then went 67-67 on the weekend, including a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole. Patrick Reed was the 54-hole leader but shot a final-round 75 to finish 12th.
I told you that I wasn't overly confident handicapping the Wells Fargo because it was being held this year only at Eagle Point, which had never hosted a Tour event previously. I went with North Carolina native William McGirt at +4000 to win, but he missed the cut after rounds of 75-74. I did get Johnson at -225 for a Top 10 as well as a few head-to-head props, but not my best tournament. Let's move on.
This week it's the "fifth major" with the Players Championship at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, home of the famous island par-3 17 th hole, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., the official home of the PGA Tour headquarters. The tournament's $10.5 million purse is the largest of any non-major, and the winner gets a five-year PGA Tour exemption. The course has undergone some renovations and did suffer some damage when Hurricane Matthew blew through the area last October (renovations were planned regardless). I'm eager to see the par-4 12th hole as it was reduced from 360 to 302 yards. That's obviously drivable for some guys, although there's water and bunkers surrounding the green. The iconic 17th hole hasn't been altered. The Stadium Course is a par 72 measuring 7,189 yards.
A total of 55 of the world's Top 60 are set to play. The defending champion is Aussie Jason Day. He tied the course record with an opening 63 last year and became just the fifth wire-to-wire champion. He finished at 15-under 273, four ahead of Kevin Chappell. If there's a tie after regulation, the playoff is three-hole aggregate. It was changed to that format in 2014. No player has repeated here.
Golf Odds: Players Championship Favorites
Newly-married Rory McIlroy is +1100. McIlroy has four straight Top-12 finishes at TPC Sawgrass, topped by a sixth in 2014. He also has seven straight Top 10s in stroke-play events since September.
The favorites are rounded out by Jordan Spieth (+1200), Sergio Garcia (+1600) and Jon Rahm (+1800). Sergio won this tournament in 2008 and is the all-time money winner at the Players. Garcia hasn't played on Tour since his Masters victory. The past two Masters winners missed the cut here. Spieth was fourth in his debut in this event three years ago and has missed the cut the past two years. Rahm continued his great season with a fourth last week. It's his first time at this event.
Golf Odds: Players Championship Picks
Hate to bet against Johnson, but sometimes guys just don't like the way a course is laid out, and that appears to be the case with him here. Sergio is a guy I might pick if he hadn't won the Masters; only Tiger in 2001 has won the Masters and Players the same year.
For a Top 10, I like McIlroy (even), Hideki Matsuyama (+160), Matt Kuchar (+300) and Martin Kaymer (+500). Go Day at +110 as top Australasian, McIlroy (+200) as top GB & Ireland player and Matsuyama (+330) as top rest of the world.
Head-to-head, I love Kuchar (-115) over Phil Mickelson (-115), who really doesn't like this track and has four straight missed cuts at TPC Sawgrass (he did win in 2007). Also go Adam Scott (-110) over a struggling Henrik Stenson (-120), Justin Thomas (even) over Rickie Fowler (-130), Matsuyama (-125) over Justin Rose (-105), and McIlroy (-105) over Johnson (-135).
As of now, no grouping props at Bovada, which I'd probably take one involving McIlroy and Kuchar if available. Kuchar is great value at +5000 as he won here in 2012 and was third last year. I might also throw a few bucks on Kaymer (+5500), who has a win (2014) and two Top 5s here.
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