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Welcome everyone to the first edition of what should be a weekly PGA segment: the IBN PGA Overview. What you can expect from these articles are a loosely capped preview of the events and any little tips or hints I find along the way in my research. If you would like my exact picks you can always check out the IBN All Stars and join for $5 a month.
This week we travel to the famed TPC Sawgrass Course for The Players Championship. This is a Peter Dye course and if you want more info on what that could potentially mean feel free to check out our podcast The Backdoor Cover. My co-host Keith Flemming goes into a little detail early on about the nuisances that make this course so special and challenging. There does not appear to be any weather issues in play this week so we should anticipate some high scoring. For every course there is an angle that I like to target in order to shape my picks. This week, based on a very interesting quote from Rory Mcllroy in 2020, I will be targeting guys who we generally think of as great tee to green players and steady iron play. I generally cap the tournaments in tiers based on the odds so let’s get started.
Tier Alpha : 10:1 or less
Because we have a top notch field this is a perfect time to add Tier Alpha. Tier Alpha is generally a low odd play that you pick just to, at worst, hedge your tournament. The price range for that is usually 10:1 or less. This week I am going to stretch it one more point and say that Dustin Johnson is the Tier Alpha play at 11:1. DJ comes in with great course history and is a very strong iron player. We are getting a little treat at these odds because he is not quite on the run that he was on during the COVID season. 11:1 seems fair and if it becomes the high scoring event that I believe it will be, DJ is a very sound pick.
Tier 1: 11:1- 19:1 odds
All the names here are guys you expect to compete and win this weekend. From Mcllroy who last won the full tournament in 2019 to Dechambeau who currently leads in Fed-Ex cup points …these are considered the world’s top golfers right now. I’ve made it no secret on the podcast and I won’t beat around the bush here either: I love Colin Morikawa this week. Colin is 1st in strokes gained approach and 3rd in strokes gained tee to green. I think statistically he’s a bit underrated because I’ve talked for over a month about how he’s been tinkering with his putting technique and he won at the Concession coming in ranked 192nd in putting. I would like to believe he’s figured it out . When we are talking tee to green and irons that is the strongest part of Morikawa’s game. He’s currently 18:1 on Mybookie.ag.
Tier 2: 20:-45:1 odds
Generally, you will hear me say “this is the area where I think we get a winner. By and large these are generally the odds I find winners at when betting outright. This week there are many attractive plays here. Viktor Hovland is a young golfer everyone loves who has been knocking on the door of a breakthrough victory. He came in with Morikawa and I personally thought he would be the better of the golfers but Collin has separated himself by closing out tournaments. Jordan Speith at 28:1 has been looking like he is just a few more tourneys from returning to Master’s level winner. The tour is excited to see Speith return and like my co host stated, the only thing left is to remember how to win. With his knack for big putts and the new found accuracy off the tee, this may be his week. There are two value plays at this price range I think one could target. Patrick Reed is arguably a top 7 golfer on tour right now. I have him in the 20:1 range not 40:1. I get his course history may not be the strongest but he’s a guy who can and will score. He has the range off the tee to make birdies and eagles with less than driver plus he’s one of if not the best scrambler in the game right now. Patrick Reed comes in 2nd in strokes gained putting and top 10 in total strokes gained. So to summarize that, when Patrick Reed has competed he is 1.5 strokes better than the field average. That’s really, really good…in fact I will boldy say that is too damn good to be 40:1. The other sneaky value play might be Hideki Matsuyama. Prior to the cancellation of the 2020 Players, Hideki was leading the field. Sadly we will never know how it should have ended but there was a lot of positives to the two rounds that might make one consider adding him again for this year. Squeaking in at 45:1 I spoke about it on the podcast, Scottie Scheffler is a guy I really like this week. Now as my co-host stated he has never played here and first timers generally struggle. That is data that you can’t ignore however I am a big believer in going with your gut and my gut tells me this feast or famine course is great for Scottie. Scheffler is top 20 in total birdies and birdie average per round. TPC Sawgrass has higher birdie and eagles per round than the tour average so it bodes well for him. He also ranks 1st in total driving which might come in handy as there are 17 holes with water hazards.
Tier 3 45:1-79:1
Realistically there are not a lot of guys at these odds that we should anticipate winning however…that isn’t going to stop me from considering a few. My top of the list here is Joaquin Niemann. The Chilean is not only moving into the category of my favorite golfers, he is also playing the best golf of his life right now. #11 Strokes gained off the tee, #11 strokes gained tee to green and #9 strokes gained total. He ranks third in birdie average per round and #14 in total birdies. He’s literally a man possessed on the golf course right now. And did I mention he’s 10 for 10 on cuts made? You could argue that there are only a handful of guys playing better than Joaquin right now so I have no concern with giving him a strong look for all props and outright winner. One should and could also consider Adam Scott. I am on record as not being a big fan of Mr. Scott but he’s got the pedigree to win here and these are the longest odds you’ll see on him in a while.
My target longshot initially was Sergio Garcia who sits at 90:1. Sergio is a mentor to Joaquin Niemann and I feel like it would be the perfect scenario to have those two competing in the final grouping for the win. Sergio is a top 5 golfer in strokes gained off the tee, but his Achilles heel this year has been the short game. I recall Sergio’s win at the Masters a few years back under similar circumstances where everything was there except the short game. I am willing to take a shot at these long odds on him to place in the top 20.