Find out why Ben-Cole supports Tiger Woods in his in-depth review of the championship for players in TPP Sagras.
3pts beat Justin Thomas in 16/1
2pts e.w. Tiger Woods at 25/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)
1pt e.w. Henrik Stanson at 60/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)
1pt e.w. Kevin Kisner at 125/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)
1pt e.w. Russell Knox at 150/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)
The revamped golf course means that it is a PLAYER champion that starts a four month period of relentlessly high level of sport and, whether you believe in a propaganda campaign or not, there is no denying that this is just about as good as it is outside of the four repeat: four) majors.
THE PLAYERS are iconic on their own, largely thanks to the fact that, like the masters, there is a permanent home. TPC Sawgrass, the best-known creation of Pete and Alice Boy, is certainly a recognizable world. Especially the 17th must rank among the most famous golf holes and plays a key role in the closure that builds for excitement.
With a deep form of the course, the key to unlocking the event is to determine whether the move from May to March will change something. I came to the conclusion that perhaps its potent influence is exaggerated; that what happened here in recent years remains a valid guide to forming.
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Yes, the weather is far colder than it would be two months in a row, and there are talks, including players, that this pair 72 will play longer and probably easier than may be the case in May. But Monday's reports suggested that the solidity of the green remains and that the overburdened rough would pose its own problems, namely different lies, which are often difficult to judge.
Besides, we are here. The event was moving in a different way, from a slightly later March slot until mid-May, before the 2007 edition. However, seeing through the champions by 2006 reveals a similar profile, that is, the movement back then did not seem to change much. Perhaps the same will be true here.
If so, look for direct attackers who have their pretext in the conversation. Stephen Eis was a winner in 2006 and since then we have had Tim Clark and Cui Joey, plus near misses for Paul Goodos, Kevin Kisner, Ben Curtis, Jim Furq, Zach Johnson, Kevin Na and David Thoms. They say this pair 72 plays as a pair 70 and is no doubt a technical test for execution, where simply pushing the ball as hard as it can, does not seem to do the trick, brings more players into the calculation.
Indeed, to extend that thought, much of the attraction of the event from the point of exaggeration is that the best best players in the world simply do not seem completely relaxed here. Dustin Johnson has 10 attempts without top-10, Rory Makilyo nine without top-five; scaling back from the target just does not come naturally.
Even Ricky Fowler, a winner in 2015 and a runner-up in 2012, has something to answer when it comes to the suitability of the match – he won for a remarkable burst of achievement, which we will never see, and in second place we will visit others his visits were all miserable. Brooks Koepka has even more to prove and while it is early days, I would not have this down as an ideal place for John Rahm, either.
All that help to strengthen the case for two great dreams – Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods.
Thomas showed an immediate affinity for the course when he fought for his debut, sitting fifth in 54 holes, still looking for the first PGA Tour victory. He faded on Sunday, but made a change about it a year later, the final round 65 setting a goal that briefly seemed to threaten Jason Den.
"I love this place," he said on his way to what was third. "I had a great chance to win last year and I just, something about this track and just the atmosphere, it's a really entertaining tournament and I look forward to playing it every year."
You might think that it is an inadequate answer to the question of an event where PGA Tour players are very proud, but many others at the top of the sport have refused to make such a brilliant score. McIlroy spoke in particular about how he was forced to adjust his style of play and while he thinks he would get there, he would have supported him much more when he could freely turn hard with the driver as much as possible.
Thomas may have only a little bit of subtlety of his game and of course became paved, beating with incredible strokes, not much less than one in 10 years, and by improving his score every day for 11 last year he looks at the choice of market leaders of this a specific golf course.
It was here 12 months ago that Thomas graduated at the top of the world rankings and currently there can be only one player who is considered more likely to win any tournament – Dustin Johnson. Since DJ obviously does not like Sawgrass, Thomas must be calling at prices.
Justin Thomas sees the man who will beat him in Sawgrass
As for Woods, it would sometimes be easy to argue that, like Johnson, he especially does not like Sawgrass; that his victory here in 2001 was a product of him like Tiger Woods, rather than a demonstration of love for appearance.
However, as it gets older, it's no longer one of the PGA Tour's true power centers, Woods's approach to achievement has become even more surgical and it's no coincidence that the victory retained the unforgettable returning season came to the East Lake, a school, a technical course where thought and execution are needed.
It's on these courses, where the driver is not so important that Woods is the most dangerous – because it's clear that his iron game remains the main weapon, probably setting the standard in sports even now.
When it reaches somewhere like the course used in Mexico for the World Cup in golf, which appears briefly and closely, but in fact encourages the use of the driver, Woods is on the back leg. He ranks 66th out of 72 players on his ace on the road to 10th, but still led the field with access to hitting; not hitting the driver, simply put it in a position where the 10th was approximately as good as it was supposed to get. Maybe he could finish fifth if he put it better.
Now we're going to Sawgrass, where Woods could even get hit strokes as he did last year and where he won the second time in 2013 thanks to the autocratic green display, there's only one real concern: the neck.
Woods chose not to play at Bay Hill last week, of course, where he won eight times before, due to an issue he said he was torturing for several weeks. While on the internet rumor web site appeared briefly, his alibi was backed by McIlroy who said Woods was treated in Mexico City.
Monday's news was quite positive, but seeing the Woods blast drivers on the range put any concern at ease. He does not need to work hard this weekend if there is a problem, and the same goes for Thomas, who had a muscular on his wrist in Honda, but said he simply would not play, regardless of the tournament, if that remained a problem.
Given that both may benefit from entering this busy magic, Thomas and Woods look like two outstanding candidates if we are witnessing a real top-class winner here.
Tiger Woods could increase the victory of last year's TOUR
Sergio Garcia led the field with strokes four times, and never finished worse than the third. The way he hit the ball this year suggests that he is a repeat candidate and he was tempting enough for the price as one of those who absolutely enjoy this test.
Tommy Fleetwood should take a big heart out of Francesco Molinari's Sunday fireworks, but for a second I can not get involved with the idea that he has the same chance as Tiger, and the Italian is a better bet for tracking. However, it feels like the ship sailed – he was about 60/1 shot running last week.
Instead, I hope to turn around Henrik Stenson performed at Bay Hill, came precisely at the right time as he offered to win his second World Championship.
The Swede opened a circle of 77 on a course where he enjoyed a lot of success in the past, and appeared how to leave the funk in which he started 2019. Then, he shot 66 to climb more than 60 places, 69 to climb another 25, and the final round 71 for a welcome top-20 finish.
Crucially, the performance was powered by a strong approach – he ranked third on the pitch – and that's what makes Stenson a threat. Like Woods, he does not have a tendency to pave the fields from the target, how much we can admire the mighty three tree that runs through the middle of the vessel, but here in Sawgrass he can do it.
The Swede won four of them a decade ago, again thanks to a faithful display of ball strikes, and was also third, fifth and tenth, this is a clear golf course that suits his style. Something about the mark 50/1 looks good worth taking.
Henrik Stenson: Back in shape at the right time
Jordan Spit claimed here on debut and must be counted as a remarkable 66/1 in places that are now returning to Bermuda, but his strike remains a serious concern and will end with two players with three figures.
First, Russell Knox led the field in Honda's approach and a similar performance here will surely give him a strong chance anyway.
The Scotsman returns to his best and has long made Florida his home, he is very familiar with Sawgrass – in fact he says he played "all the time" when he was at college, even if his schedule no longer allowed that luxury.
During his performances on the PLAYER, we have seen evidence that the course corresponds to Knox, who won the highlands of the River TPC – another color creation that was used on the track. He was 34th in the debut followed by the 17th and 19th, and the latter was to be much better because he was in the mix before making nine on the 17th during the third round.
Knox responded really well to that failure with the final round of 70 years and while subsequent visits were not completely encouraging, on both occasions he arrived under a serious cloud.
This is not the case this time and by winning the World Championship Championship in addition to the Irish Open, a high-class event that is part of the Rolex series on the European Tour, he obviously has enough to beat the best in the world when presented with appropriate course.
On the 29th time in the brain got access to the season and after being excellent in that department last time out, Knox looks worth it to catch with three-digit prices.
Russell Knox has a solid record on a course that he knows well
Finally, while the extraordinary surprise of Jason Kokrak's ball is hard to ignore, I cling to him Kevin Kisner.
The American entered Arnold Palmer's final with only two players ahead of him, but the three-year-old furious in the first hole set the tone for a disappointing week.
It was a trap that he held back all week, in fact, and if he told me he would rank on the 12th of the field and 16th in the approach, I would be convinced he would almost win the event. It was expected that, back to Bermuda, he would rank highly on the Greens, who would even put seasons to start the year.
Of course, the golf makes ridicule of such lines of logic, but there is a very strong chance that Kisner is improving on the green and makes him a potential candidate for an event he so soon won in 2015.
Kisner then lost the playoffs here and in Harbor Town with two colors, and he also came close to winning the TPC Louisiana when he was Scott Brown's partner in Zurich Classic in New Orleans, again beaten overtime.
It's a serious color profile, but more specifically, Sawgrass suits the legal driving and aggressive ironing, and this kind of golf is not far from being a real world-class player.
Kisner has won twice on the PGA Tour, and on short, technical schedules with Bermuda and a constant wind threat, and I must give him another chance at a similar price last week.
Posted at 0800 GMT on March 12, 1919.