Draws and Fades: THE PLAYERS Championship
8 Min Read
Written by Rob Bolton @RobBoltonGolf
The best all-time shots on every hole at THE PLAYERS
Well, that was something, wasn’t it?
Because the odds for the “To Win” (outright) bet at PGA TOUR Pick ‘Em Live weren’t updating during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, you could have been sitting on Tyrrell Hatton at +20000 when he was the clubhouse leader. I was, but I’ve been monitoring the live odds for most of the rounds since the game launched at The Genesis Invitational, anyway.
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Alas, Scottie Scheffler emerged with the title at +500, but the prizewinners were invested at multiples of that, so their patience was rewarded, as it should be to finish inside the top five.
With thousands participating, no league play and with only five spots paying out, the quicker you adhere to the go-big-or-go-home approach, the sooner you’ll connect with the cash.
In last week’s Draws and Fades, I explained how I finished third at The Honda Classic. In short, latched onto Sepp Straka at +10000 in his second round and let it ride.
Since wins in 3-balls and make-the-cut props in R1 are unlikely to make a difference between finishing in the money or even positioning inside the top five, target R1 leaders as the boost to get going. Even though coins are valued at just one-quarter the payout, we’re all in the same boat and it’ll be tougher for many gamers who don’t score well on this prop to catch up later.
R2 3-balls also are pretty much negligible unless you’re engaging in a private head-to-head (or just trying to beat Mike Glasscott and me as Influencers). However, when 2-balls are offered in R3 and/or R4, always bet on the tie for the maximum value. Again, because the top five most likely will have been sitting on the eventual champion at odds longer than your last check late in a final round (and even when the odds board doesn’t update), landing even one tie for approximately 550-800 coins on the weekend is just about as good as going perfect in picking individual winners. Maximize the possibilities.
Top 10 and Top 20 finishes are in the same tier as the R1 leader but take time especially when the windows open between R3 and R4 to adjust wisely, if necessary.
Remember, gang, as I’ve always written and said, our objective isn’t to judge what’s presented; rather, once we’ve agreed to play, our only objective is figuring out how to prevail because we’ve accepted the construct of the format. Pick ‘Em Live not only encourages to swing for the fence, it requires it. Be bold!
Meanwhile, THE PLAYERS Championship doesn’t mark the midpoint of the 2021-22 PGA TOUR season, but it does conclude Segment 2 of PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf.
After navigating nine events in Segment 1, we’ve reached the end of the 10 contributing to Segment 2.
Segment 3 will include 11 events from next week’s Valspar Championship through the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday. That means that the Masters and the PGA Championship are a part of it.
Segment 4 consists of 12 tournaments beginning with the return of the RBC Canadian Open and extending through the conclusion of the FedExCup Playoffs at the TOUR Championship. It’s always the most challenging phase but not because it includes the U.S. Open and The Open Championship. Instead, it will require backward planning so as to best position yourself offensively and defensively for the final two stops.
Also, registration for the Dell Technologies Bracket Challenge now is open at FantasyBracket.PGATOUR.com. It uses the same credentials for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, so it’s likely that you’re already logged in even though the page might prompt you to do so.
Despite that digital connection, the Bracket Challenge is a stand-alone game for the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play on March 23-27. More on it when we get there but spread the word in the meantime.
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARDDustin Johnson (+150 for a Top 20) … A year ago, he headed into THE PLAYERS as the world’s top-ranked player. Since, he’s connected for six top 10s worldwide and has fallen to No. 9 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but the biggest news was that he didn’t qualify for the Sentry Tournament of Champions because he didn’t pick off a win on the PGA TOUR in 2021. Projects to pay off the faithful among his full-season investors who are getting just their fourth start from the 37-year-old but also weekly gamers, given his consistently helpful record at TPC Sawgrass. Ignoring a mid-tournament WD in 2013, he’s perfect in his last 10 trips with a T12-T17-T5 burst from 2017-2019.
Brooks Koepka (+170 for a Top 20) … Big tournament with a big field and big purse. I don’t think it’s stretching into supposition that what motivates him are the things we can’t see or feel necessarily. His perspective is to be the apex predator. We love that when a set of variables like this week’s is presented. That he has a couple of top 20s among four paydays in five starts should give even gun-shy gamers enough reason not to hesitate.
Billy Horschel (+150 for a Top 10) … Sure, Sunday was exhausting but it also was his latest in an extended series of strong performances. This is what it looks like to be in one’s prime, which he is at 35 years of age. He’s 6-for-8 at THE PLAYERS but with only one top-25 finish (T13, 2015). However, considering everything going for him right now, toss a unit or two into his direction for a top 10.
Si Woo Kim (+275 for a Top 20) … It’s odd to consider him to be reliable – at least he is until his next back injury – but he arrives having connected nine paydays since October. Of course, he’s also a former champion at TPC Sawgrass (2017), but he’s perfect in five trips, including a T9 last year. It’s as if we need to proactively add the thought of how differently we’d feel about him if he didn’t have, gulp, 11 mid-tournament withdrawals in his career, and he’s only 26 years of age.
Abraham Ancer (+250 for a Top 20) … It would be inaccurate to say that a guy can find his game at TPC Sawgrass, but it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that TPC Sawgrass allows for the right skill sets to shine a little brighter than perhaps they have of late. This is his narrative. Hasn’t garnered a ton of attention in 2022 but he’s been making cuts, so there’s nothing discouraging about that. Meanwhile, his accuracy off the tee has positioned him to finish T12 (2019) and T22 (2021) in his prior appearances. His scoring average in those eight rounds is 70.
Paul Casey Brian Harman Tom Hoge Max Homa Chris Kirk Keith Mitchell Louis Oosthuizen Justin Rose Lee Westwood
Odds sourced on Tuesday, March 8 at 6 p.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
FADESJordan Spieth … Since debuting at TPC Sawgrass with a T4 in 2014, he’s missed four cuts and finished outside the top 40 in the other two tries. Mixed results are to be expected in this tournament, but there’s too much of the wrong thing on his track record. So, the shrewdest play is to line him up as a contrarian in fractional situations. If you built a short list of guys in whom you’d trust to pop because of their cachet, he’d be on it.
Marc Leishman … Since 2016, he’s 2-for-5 and without a top 60 at THE PLAYERS.
Patrick Reed … He was doing so well committing to playing with feel, but he arrives having missed three consecutive cuts for the first time in five years. He’s also gone nine straight starts without a top 30 in a full-field event.
Francesco Molinari … He’s logged four top 10s at TPC Sawgrass but not since 2017. However, even if you hang your visor on that alone, it was odd that he sat out last week’s stop at Bay Hill where his record is similar but better because he took the title there in 2019. He’s 4-for-4 in 2022 with a T6 at PGA WEST, but none of his weekends since yielded a top 40. The 39-year-old Italian presents as overvalued this week.
Bubba Watson … He’s cashed eight times at TPC Sawgrass but never for a top-35 finish.
Tony Finau Kevin Kisner Luke List Seamus Power Henrik Stenson Kevin Streelman Nick Watney Matthew Wolff
Webb Simpson … He was last in the mix at the WM Phoenix Open but withdrew on that Wednesday due to a then-undisclosed issue. This week, however, Rex Hoggard of GolfChannel.com reported that the 2018 PLAYERS champion has been managing a comeback from a herniated disc in his neck. Simpson dealt with a sore neck last year, but the level of its severity is more glaring now. He feels good but he’ll be rusty. With wind set to challenge and on a track that shows no mercy, any success this soon will be a bonus.
Bryson DeChambeau … Second consecutive early WD and third of 2022. Cited lingering discomfort to his left hand and left hip in advance of his early exit from last week’s API.
Harris English … Underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip on Feb. 14. He’s fully exempt through 2023-24, so there’s no incentive to schedule a return to competition, much less rush into it. Thoughtfully speculating, the 32-year-old might be out the rest of the season. He’s 211th in the FedExCup, so there’s nothing to protect if he wanted to consider pushing it.
Kevin Na … Stepped away for the birth of his third child on Monday.
Tiger Woods … Remains on the long mend after his auto crash a little over a year ago.
Phil Mickelson … He’s taken an indefinite leave from competition.
Steve Stricker … Announced on Feb. 22 that he wouldn’t be ready to fulfill his exemption for winning the 2021 Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship due to extended recovery from a serious illness last fall.
RECAP – ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL PRESENTED BY MASTERCARD
Power Ranking Golfer Result 1 Rory McIlroy T13 2 Jon Rahm T17 3 Hideki Matsuyama T20 4 Marc Leishman T68 5 Jason Kokrak T26 6 Tyrrell Hatton T2 7 Matt Fitzpatrick T9 8 Keith Mitchell T61 9 Viktor Hovland T2 10 Will Zalatoris T38 11 Sungjae Im T26 12 Scottie Scheffler Win 13 Max Homa T17 14 Paul Casey 72nd 15 Chris Kirk T5 Wild Card Adam Scott T26
Golfer (Prop) Result Lucas Glover (+333 = top 20) T74 Beau Hossler (+500 = top 20) T20 Sean O’Hair (+600 = top 20) MC Taylor Pendrith (+400 = top 20) T42 Matt Wallace (+600 = top 20) MC
Bet Result Jason Kokrak & Marc Leishman both top-30 finish (+310) T26/T68
Power Ranking Golfer Result 1 Matthias Schwab T7 2 Kurt Kitayama T28 3 John Huh MC 4 Brice Garnett T7 5 Mark Hubbard T38 6 Rafa Cabrera Bello T38 7 Brian Stuard T22 8 David Lipsky DNP 9 Victor Perez T55 10 Scott Brown T41
Golfer Result Rafael Campos T59 Chan Kim T16 Ted Potter, Jr. MC Chase Seiffert T41 Bo Van Pelt MC
March 8 … none March 9 … Vaughn Taylor (46) March 10 … none March 11 … none March 12 … none March 13 … Austin Cook (31) March 14 … Vince Whaley (27)