One of the strongest fields of the year will compete in Florida this week at the Players Championship. TPC Sawgrass, the 7,189-yard par 72, provides an all-round test with the champion likely to need all facets of his game to be firing to lift the trophy in Jacksonville.
Rory McIlroy won the tournament 12 months ago and the world number one is the clear favourite this week. McIlroy is in exceptionally consistent form but he has never defended a title and the 7/1 shot can be left out at short odds.
Bryson DeChambeau – Each Way
Bryson DeChambeau looks to be close to landing another victory and the American appeals for success at the Stadium Course.
DeChambeau appears to be hitting top gear with three successive top-five finishes. His hot form started with fifth place at the Genesis Invitational before finishing runner-up at the Mexico Championship. Another impressive performance at the Arnold Palmer Invitational resulted in fourth place on Sunday.
DeChambeau, who was 20th at Sawgrass 12 months ago, has bulked up this year and his extra power off the tee has added an extra dimension to his game. The 26-year-old’s ball striking has been outstanding in recent weeks, ranking third for strokes gained tee to green, and he is second in the all-round rankings this season.
DeChambeau is a five-time PGA Tour champion and is shaping up strongly ahead of the start of the major season with next month’s Masters looming. With momentum on his side, DeChambeau is backed to win the most prestigious title of his career at 20/1.
Xander Schauffele – Each Way
Xander Schauffele has developed into a man for the big occasion and the world number 12 is fancied to challenge for the Players Championship.
Schauffele took an immediate liking to Sawgrass with a superb performance on his debut two years ago. The Californian shot three rounds in the 60s, for a 14-under-par total, on his way to second place and should be relishing his third appearance at the tournament.
It is one of a string of near-misses for Schauffele with four runner-up finishes over the last year. Second place at the Masters was followed by the same outcome at the Tour Championship. Schauffele was also runner-up at the HSBC Champions before losing a play-off in January at the Tournament of Champions.
The four-time PGA Tour champion struck the ball with authority, finishing 14th at the Mexico Championship and his last four events have all yielded top-25s. Schauffele, who is ninth for strokes gained tee to green, can deliver a long-game masterclass and contend for the trophy at 25/1.
Webb Simpson – Each Way
Webb Simpson has already won the Players Championship and the 2018 champion looks capable of repeating his triumph this week.
Simpson has been relentlessly consistent since the end of last year and his performances were rewarded with a win at the Phoenix Open last month. The American has finished in the top ten in all bar one of his tournaments this season.
Simpson was in a class of his own at Sawgrass two years ago, shooting 18-under-par for the win. Although he is not long off the tee, Simpson has an extremely reliable long game and his ability around the greens has helped him climb up to seventh in the world rankings. He currently leads the way for bogey avoidance this season and is also first for birdie average.
Simpson is in the form of his life and the 2012 US Open champion looks a strong each-way contender at 28/1.
Daniel Berger – Each Way
Daniel Berger has endured a difficult couple of years but the Florida golfer looks close to his best as he bids for glory in his home state.
Berger has improved his results in every tournament in 2020 and a third PGA Tour win does not look far away. A tie for ninth at the Phoenix Open was an encouraging effort, with Berger adding fifth spot at Pebble Beach before fourth place at the nearby Honda Classic.
Berger’s two victories both came at the St Jude Classic and the 26-year-old is focused on climbing back up the world rankings after returning to full fitness following injury. The confident American is exceptionally comfortable competing in Florida, having lost a play-off at the Honda Classic in 2015 and finishing ninth here at Sawgrass a year later.
Berger, who is fifth for par-five scoring average this season, stands out at as a tempting 66/1 shot in Jacksonville.
Russell Henley – Each Way
There have been plenty of shock winners at the Players Championship down the years and Russell Henley looks worth backing at three-figure odds.
The American is a proven winner, with three PGA Tour titles including his victory in Florida at the Honda Classic in 2014. Henley is at his best in this part of the country and this looks a realistic opportunity to challenge on the leaderboard at Sawgrass.
Henley’s best result at the Players Championship was 17th in 2014 and encouragingly the 30-year-old has been striping the ball in recent weeks. He contended early on at the Genesis Invitational, a tournament he has typically struggled in, claiming a tie for 17th. Henley built on this strong showing with eighth place at this month’s Honda Classic – topping the stats for strokes gained on approach and second for tee to green.
Henley’s confidence in his long game bodes well for this week’s challenge and he should not be discounted at appealing odds of 125/1.