Here we are again on familiar territory. The Sixes event in Europe was groundbreaking and may well establish itself as a regular fixture but if it ever forms the backbone of the Tour…nah. On the subject of BS the calls have come again for the Players to be the 5th major. Why? Yes 48 of the top 50 are here but so what? The WGC events regularly attract this calibre of field. Why golf needs a 5th major is beyond me. All it would do is bring in Major inflation and do they then retrospectively label pervious winners as Major winners? No. It can’t be a major when every player on the planet would swap 5 of them for one real Major.
That said it is a wonderful event and that’s in part to the same course each year with its signature hole. Cleary though it’s not the same as they tweak constantly. The most significant change this year is the now driveable par 4 12th at 302 (from 358) and the introduction of a pond on the left. The 6th and 7th now have water in place of spectator mounds (this is the Stadium course right?).
Regardless of the changes the course will be familiar to all but a few –Rahm being one of them. Will it stop him? You have to love him but he’ll blow a few and his prices have contracted very quickly to make him unattractive. Dustbin on paper looks no chance around here his best being a 28th last year. The Dustbin we see now appears to be a different animal. Rory is rock solid around here after a steep learning curve with missed cuts on his first three attempts. A s often stated looks like he’s hacking around because he’s not winning – that’s how good he is – and we are sorely tempted at 11/1 but some major equipment additions which he loves make me think he’s best watched this week. Jordan has missed consecutive cuts here but the pattern is quite common even amongst the leading players and he’s a freak on the greens and he’s Jordan but I’m inclined to death ride him given his somewhat wild tee balls. Day. Fowler, Garcia – none of them would surprise. A case could be made for so many players but I think Milky’s incredulity after winning here in 07 summed up the nature of the course. You can’t slash it at TPC Sawgrass you have to plot your way around and in 07 Milky was playing slash and burn golf.
Brooks Koepka 1pt win @ $41 with
Tommy Fleetwood 1pt win @ $150 on
Sergio Garcia 1 pt win @ $21 with
Brooks Koepka is a stable favourite and just failed to bring home the bacon last start. He’d lost his game off the tee until something clicked at Augusta of all places. On the back on that we got on him again at the Valero where he was number one in greens in regulation, an absolute key stat at Sawgrass. He continued to play well with a 4th in New Orleans. Pure class with form on a Dye designed layout via his 5th in the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Two modest efforts here won’t put me off as he’s simply a better package now.
Tommy Fleetwood would look to have a fight on his hands making his debut here. The missed cut at the Masters was no surprise and can be forgiven given the intimidation factor and the hoopla. That aside Fleetwood has put in some great performances and shown he’s more than capable of winning in the US. What stands out is his driving where he consistently out performs most and yet is hardly short like many of the most accurate drivers coming in at 297.3 Fleetwood has temporary PGA Tour membership and you don’t get offered this unless you’ve shown real potential. If just being a good driver doesn’t cut it consider his other KPI’s. Strokes gained tee to green 0.737. Around the green 0.741 – a key stat given the difficulty getting up and down at Sawgrass. Stokes gained Tee to green 2.310! Granted these stats are based on 8 rounds, which produced a 2nd and a 10th, but they underpin some impressive European form. He could surprise on his event debut.
Sergio Garcia just wins out ahead of Rory. He’s can’t have spent the last five weeks partying so we’ll assume he’s been prepping hard for this. Garcia is made for Sawgrass with his shot shaping game and his record stands second to none. A win, two seconds, a third and a sixth from his last ten starts bear witness to a man who thrives under the challenges Sawgrass presents. The small greens demand you hit them and Garcia has been hitting them 73.15% in 2017. He ranks 22nd in fairways hit to boot. The win at Augusta was his second on tour reflecting a great season and may have just taken the monkey of his back. A relaxed Garcia on this track could be a great combination.