There is a distinctly British look at the top of the outright market for this week’s Players Championship.
Betfred are offering enhanced place terms on the Players Championship
Rory McIlroy leads the way at 14/1 and will go into the contest as the world number one after usurping Luke Donald (18/1) at the top of the rankings after the Wells Fargo Championship.
The Northern Irishman has been in fantastic form this year with four top-ten finishes, which included a victory in the Honda Classic, although he disappointed in the year’s first Major. Having dominated for so long last year at the Masters before famously capitulating on the way home in his final round, it was perhaps surprising he faltered so badly this time around, particularly having the US Open under his belt, with rounds of 77 and 76 over the weekend scuppering any chances he had of exorcising his demons at the course.
He did take a little time off following that disappointment and returned in good style, although ultimately losing at Quail Hollow to Rickie Fowler in a play-off. That has surely set him up for a strong tilt this week as he more than secured the finish that was required to see him return to the top of the standings.
His stats going into the tournament look good as he led the field at Quail Hollow in distance off the tee as well as birdies, is ranked first in the all-around, 17th in scrambling and 20th in greens hit. Although whether that is enough to persuade punters to back someone who has missed both cuts in the two times he has played the course, decided to sidestep the event last year and once said: “I don’t like the course” remains to be seen.
Donald has perhaps not enjoyed the stellar year he had in 2011, so far at least, but will have the added incentive this week of trying to regain the world number one position. He did win the Transitions Championship in March and has three top-ten finishes to his name this year and it will surely not be too long before he finds the consistency levels he attained last season to be amongst the leaders again.
He tied for third last time out in New Orleans and is currently ranked first in scrambling, fourth in strokes gained putting and 13th in accuracy off the tee so should be able to tackle the iconic track. And, unlike the favourite, he does have previous at the course having tied for fourth last year, having also finished as co runner-up in 2005.
Lee Westwood (18/1) of course has been the nearly man in the Majors on so many occasions and, although this is only the ‘fifth Major’, a victory for the former world number one would not necessarily come out of turn. The 39-year-old is perhaps running out of time to finally break his duck but does have three top-ten finishes at this tournament, which includes a tied fourth in 2010.
What perhaps is more eye-catching is his tremendous finish at Quail Hollow last week when his weekend finish of 68 and 66 saw him surge up the leaderboard to finish in a tie for fifth place. Westwood also finished in a tie for third at the Masters and he currently leads the way in greens in regulation but there is the problem for the Worksop ace – will he ever find the kind of form with the short stick that will win him a big one.
Phil Mickelson – the last American to win the tournament – would seem a safer pick than Tiger Woods of the two that are currently priced at 25/1, given the fact that the latter missed the cut last week, while ‘Lefty’ has enjoyed a win at the AT& T as well three other top-five finishes.
Hunter Mahan has been in the form of his life this season and is the only multiple winner on the PGA Tour so far, while he enjoyed his best finish at this track last year when tied for sixth. He has to be considered at 35/1 alongside Steve Stricker, who has been a consistent performer for some time now and has enjoyed three top tens this year as well as victory at Kapalua.
Rickie Fowler may well interest some at 45/1 having landed his first PGA Tour title last week, although defending champion KJ Choi (66/1) has his work cut out as no-one has successfully retained the title.