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Alternate Shot: Can anyone catch Scottie Scheffler at TPC Sawgrass?

6 Min Read

Draws And Fades

    Written by Golfbet Staff @Golfbet

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – When play resumed Saturday morning at THE PLAYERS Championship, Scottie Scheffler topped the odds board but not the leaderboard. By sunset, he had firm control of both categories.

    Scheffler shot a sizzling 7-under 65 in the third round and will take a two-shot lead into the final round at TPC Sawgrass as he looks to win for the second time this season. Our Golfbet writers Will Gray and Ben Everill were both out walking the Stadium Course Saturday, and below share their thoughts on what transpired – and what we can expect to see in the final round.

    WG: Well Ben, that was certainly some performance from the reigning PGA TOUR Player of the Year. Scheffler’s 65 could have been a couple shots lower, and for much of the afternoon it felt like he held a multiple-shot lead – even during the brief window when Min Woo Lee pulled ahead. Now Scheffler’s two clear of Lee, four clear of Cam Davis and at least five clear of everyone else. He’s a clear betting favorite, down to -250 with BetMGM Sportsbook. So let’s start with a simple question: how many guys can still win this thing?

    BE: The smart money says one, and that pains me no end with his nearest chasers being Aussies. Look, we could say those within say six shots are a hope, and the nine players within that mark of the lead will certainly feel like they can contend, but Scheffler with a head start… come on… this thing might already be over. While 13 months ago, he had ZERO PGA TOUR wins, he now has five including a Masters title. Only Lee is close enough to win without help from Scheffler and he’s only 24 in his first PLAYERS. I want to believe but it’s hard… Can you make me believe, Will? Tell me a reason why it won’t be Scottie?

    WG: Well, the odds board supports your cut-off point. Nine players are listed inside +10000, from Scheffler to Lee (+500) down to new course record holder Tom Hoge (+8000). I’m going to draw the line at four, and it’s going to be a scattered group: Scheffler, Lee, Tommy Fleetwood (+2500) and Sungjae Im (+5000). The latter two have the experience and mettle to handle the pressure cauldron that awaits, and they’re coming off rounds of 65 and 64, respectively. It’s going to take a monster round to catch the leader, but both could have another low one in them. No disrespect to your countryman, but I have a hard time seeing Davis (+2000) – who had missed his last five cuts entering the week and had missed the cut in two prior PLAYERS appearances – etching his name on the trophy. But let’s talk about the other Aussie: Lee more than held his own down the back nine until an ill-timed bogey on No. 18. Playing with Scheffler in Sunday’s final pairing, could he put a shock into this tournament tomorrow?

    BE: Well even though I faded Lee for a Top 10 (after the opening round) I am now a believer in my young countryman. And here’s why. He’s got a little bit of a mongrel attitude in him. A chip on his shoulder. He’s watched his sister, Minjee, win eight times on the LPGA Tour, including two majors, and he wants his own limelight. And honestly, all the pressure is on Scheffler. He’s expected to win now. Walking with Lee Saturday I was getting flashbacks to when Jason Day was at his peak. The turning point in my belief came at the 10th hole where he flared his tee shot, chunk-shanked from the rough into a flower bed, chipped from that to the back of the green, but buried a curling 15-footer for a gutsy par. If he can deal with Scheffler’s sleepy, monotonous but stellar iron play on Sunday, he might just keep the Australian flag flying… after all, our little nation has six wins here already. What do you think he needs to shoot to win Will? What’s the winning number tomorrow?

    WG: We discussed this during our walk across the Stadium Course today, but the issue for the field is that Scheffler won’t beat himself. He has made exactly one bogey per round over the first three days, leading the field in avoiding squares on the scorecard. So it’s hard to envision a scenario where he follows Adam Svensson’s lead from today, for example, and makes three bogeys and a triple after starting the day up by two. The saving grace for the chase pack could be the volatility that lurks around every corner at TPC Sawgrass: double bogey is never that far away. But Scheffler’s Over/Under was 70.5 for the third round, and it feels like that will be an appropriate number come Sunday – which means Lee needs at least a 68 and the others behind him need to dig deep. I think you and I would both agree that, at this point, we’d be surprised if someone other than Scheffler holds the trophy tomorrow. But what about other in-play markets that have caught your eye?

    BE: I must admit the +230 for a top-5 finish at DraftKings for Sungjae Im was one I noticed. He’s T8 going into Sunday but has gained shots across all four Strokes Gained metrics and is usually as solid as they come. I can’t see him throwing away many shots. Jason Day, currently T14 is also +225 for a Top 10. As my pre-tournament outright pick, I’ll keep the love going his way. And Adam Hadwin, he’s a plus-money bet (+115) for a Top 20, starting at T14. Do you have others in mind? Plus, where exactly does the Over/Under Balls in Water on 17 prop stand with a day to go? If guys are firing at the front-right pin we could have a sweat going on!

    WG: The Under has come back to life on the water ball prop! BetMGM set the pre-tournament number at 54.5, but after only two splashes on Saturday we’re sitting at 45 heading into the final round. I still like the Over given the traditional Sunday pin, but it’s far from a done deal. In terms of other markets, I have my eye on Viktor Hovland top-10 finish at +210 at DraftKings. The Norwegian fell off the pace Saturday, but he’s just two shots off the top-10 number and sits third this week in SG: Approach. When it comes to the top of the board, I think we both agree that this feels like Scheffler’s to lose – but with the unpredictability of TPC Sawgrass, there’s still a chance for some final-round fluctuations to the in-play markets that could turn this thing into a gripping watch.

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