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Scottie Scheffler sits ready to pounce at THE PLAYERS Championship

6 Min Read

Draws And Fades

    Written by Ben Everill @BEverillGolfbet

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The super group of Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy failed to fire in the opening round but a late flurry of birdies has Scheffler poised to chase another huge win at THE PLAYERS.

    While Chad Ramey leads the way in the incomplete opening round following an impressive 8-under 64, two-time major winner Collin Morikawa (+350) is the new betting favorite at BetMGM after a sublime 65 at TPC Sawgrass.

    Right behind him, according to oddsmakers, is Scheffler, who notched three birdies in his final four holes to shoot a sneaky good 68 to move to +550. Taylor Pendrith and Ben Griffin are in the house with 67s with Justin Suh also at 5 under through 15 holes.

    As we head toward Friday’s second round which players look set to continue good form or rebound from a rough start? And which players are punching above their weight class?



    Scottie Scheffler (-4, T6, +550 to win at BetMGM)

    Scheffler’s opening nine holes (the back side of TPC Sawgrass) were far from exciting as he notched nine straight pars as part of the Big 3. But the Texan kicked things into gear at the turn and closed with five birdies and one bogey for his 68 to sit in a tie for sixth.

    He’s ranked fourth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (+4.896), seventh in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (+1.679) and ninth in Strokes Gained: Approach (+2.437) – a deadly good recipe around this track. The only downside was on the greens but at 78th in Strokes Gained: Putting (-0.132) he isn’t poor enough to undo his good work.

    “This is one of those places when you're hitting the ball really well and getting the ball in position, there's a lot of birdies to be had,” Scheffler confirmed. “I think the scores are kind of going to ebb and flow, and we'll see what happens. But definitely happy with how I played today.”

    Jason Day (-2, T19, +1800 to win at BetMGM)

    The 2016 PLAYERS champion put together a 2-under 70 despite hitting two balls in the water on his round that led to three dropped shots. Perhaps more impressive was his ability to stay focused while his two playing partners were on their way to being second last and last on the leaderboard.

    Despite the plethora of bad visuals to contend with and a lack of overall energy in the group Day ranked sixth in SG: Approach (+2.575) and 22nd in SG: Putting (+1.539). To make his move up the boards he will need to fix his efforts in SG: Off-the-Tee (-2.543), where he ranked a dismal 136th. But the Australian went right to the range and felt confident he’d found a fix for Friday.

    “It was sneaky hard out there today but it was just a few minor mistakes to fix up. Hopefully we hit a few more fairways tomorrow and capitalize from there,” he told Golfbet.


    Chad Ramey (-8, 1st, +3300 to win with BetMGM)

    It was an incredible opening round for Ramey, one that should be applauded by a player who was as high as +100000 to win this tournament. His bogey-free effort was built on incredible work on the greens as he leads the field in SG: Putting at a whopping +5.799. Ramey was also 48th off the tee, 55th on approach and 14th around the green.

    But how much faith can we have knowing his season ranks coming into the championship were 159th off the tee, 178th on approach, 165th around the green and 90th in putting? Not a lot.

    TOP 10


    Jon Rahm (-1, T32, +140 for Top 10 with DraftKings)

    It was a day to forget for the world No.1 as he couldn’t buy a putt. Rahm historically has had some issues on Florida greens and ranking 129th in SG: Putting at -2.147 does not help that storyline.

    Despite the fact he burned me a week ago at Bay Hill, I will advocate for Rahm rebounding once more. At 14th in SG: Approach I am prepared to say he will eventually get a few to drop. Maybe not enough to win this championship, but enough to get him back in the conversation and toward the top 10.

    Taylor Pendrith (-5, T3, +300 for Top 10 with DraftKings)

    The Canadian was a rockstar off the tee hitting 14 of 14 fairways. This was the type of play that had him picked for the International Presidents Cup team last year. First in SG: Off the Tee (+2.841), second Tee to Green (+5.967) and importantly, he wasn’t terrible on the greens in ranking 84th (-0.203).

    I like the number here given his head start to stick around the periphery of contention.

    “It's much easier to play from the short grass around here… I managed my game very well, didn't really leave myself in too many awkward spots around the greens. It was a great start,” Pendrith said.

    “My driving has been very frustrating the last few months. It's generally my strength, and it had become a weakness for me. I've really been working on it, trying to get back to the way I was swinging it the last four years, driving it great. Today hit a couple good ones early and just kind of got in a groove.”


    Min Woo Lee (-4, T6, +360 Top 10 with DraftKings)

    Lee was firing on all cylinders early and had it six deep before getting slowed by a calf cramp. The Australian bogeyed the 17th and 18th holes to come back to the pack.

    “It was a weird one because I had never experienced that before. I just swung my driver, and at the end of it I kind of overextended my calf and wasn't the best of timing,” Lee said.

    But the cramp wasn’t the only concern. As good as he was putting (second) and off the tee (fourth), Lee ranked 118th in SG: Approach (-1.544) which is a metric you cannot continue at TPC Sawgrass.


    Tyrrell Hatton -110 over Tony Finau -110 with PointsBet

    This Round 2 match up appeals. Hatton opened with a 72 while Finau opened with a 73 and I am looking for a similar result on Friday. The Englishman was T13 at TPC Sawgrass last year and is coming off contention at Bay Hill last week. Finau was my pre-tournament fade and I’m sticking with it. He has the stats that should work on this course but his best result here is a T22 from six previous starts with four missed cuts.

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    Senior Writer, Golfbet Follow Ben Everill on Twitter.