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THE PLAYERS Championship tips: Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland lead European challenge at Sawgrass

The USPGA Tour steps up a notch this week when THE PLAYERS Championship brings the world’s top golfers to TPC Sawgrass for what is commonly known as “the fifth Major”.

THE PLAYERS Championship key stats:

  • When: March 14-17 2024
  • Where: TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida 
  • How long: 7,275 yards - par 72
  • What to expect: Course experience useful, accuracy key, water on every hole
  • Who won last year: Scottie Scheffler (-17)

This is the strongest field of 2024 to date, and the defending champion is Scottie Scheffler who was also the comfortable winner of last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, so has unsurprisingly been installed as the 5/1 favourite. 

This is the 50th edition of the Players and no-one has ever won it back-to-back, but Scheffler is well clear of everyone at present from tee to green, and worryingly for his rivals, the weakest aspect of his game, his putting, started to click last week, thanks to a new flatstick

The out-of-sorts Rory McIlroy is next best at around 12/1, and although he has been driving the ball beautifully, the Northern Irishman has been shipping strokes all over the place at times. 

Rory won this tournament in 2019 so he obviously has good course form, and this might be just the time for him to bounce back with an unusually tasty each-way price against his name.

Suggested bet: Rory McIlroy (12/1) each-way in the The PLAYERS Championship

 

Justin Thomas has not won for a while, but is clearly on the way back from last year’s wilderness season. JT had a good chance last week but could not deliver, but he won this tournament in 2021 and is well fancied to feature again here, although that elusive win might again be beyond him.

Hideki Matsuyama won on Tour a couple of weeks back and will be suited by a course where accuracy and iron play comes to the fore. The 2021 Master champion has placed here twice in recent years, so has all the credentials to feature again this weekend.

Victor Hovland has been out of sorts in 2024 so far, and has been working with his new coach to iron out a few kinks in his game. 

The popular Norwegian has a liking for Sawgrass, however, having also placed in this tournament twice in recent years, and we can see him rediscovering his mojo here.

Suggested bet: Viktor Hovland (18/1) each-way in the The PLAYERS Championship

 

Course debutants do not have a good record here and therefore rising star Ludvig Aberg can be easily opposed. Shane Lowry has been third and fourth in the past two weeks and is in his best form for some years, but the Irishman has not lifted a trophy in over 100 attempts and still has some work to do to get over the line.

The accuracy and patience required here should suit Brian Harman, who is ranked among the world’s top ten golfers at present, which makes his current price tag appear generous enough for each-way consideration. 

Our final pick is Min Woo Lee, who is another who has an uncanny knack for showing up in the big tournaments, and this could be the perfect stage for him to land his first PGA Tour win.

The Australian has started well at all five of his Tour events this year, but only at the Cognizant Classic two weeks ago was he able to carry that early form through the weekend, eventually tying for second behind Austin Eckroat.

If he can cut out the errors that he is prone to making under pressure, then he has the game to go one better than he did at Palm beach and win here.

Suggested bet: Min Woo Lee (35/1) each-way in the The PLAYERS Championship

 

Suggested bet summary:

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