Previews and pre-event analysis from Golf Betting System's PGA Tour and European Tour coverage
To read Steve Bamford's The Players Championship Tips for 2014 click here. Follow Steve on twitter: @bamfordgolf
The Players Championship is the self proclaimed 5th Major Championship. A $10 million tournament purse makes it the joint richest tournament in world golf and the winner receives a 5 year exemption on the PGA Tour, plus 3 year exemptions for The Masters, US Open and Open Championship. There are no doubts that a Players Championship win is a career changer, but winning around the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is one of the most difficult feats in golf. Strong winds, tight fairways, tough rough and unbelievably fast Bermudagrass greens, make Pete Dye's design one of the toughest challenges on the PGA Tour. To read Steve Bamford's Players Championship Tips for 2014 click here
Tournament Facts & Scheduling
The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is one of those courses which is tough to conquer. Scheduled between The Masters and the US Open, TPC Sawgrass is the ultimate Florida golf course, with the Island 17th hole, being one of the most famous holes in golf. With a field of 145 players including the Official World Ranking Top 50, every winner on the PGA Tour since the last renewal and the Top 125 from the previous Tour season, this tournament is only challenged by the PGA Championship is terms of sheer quality. Yes a number of high profile non PGA Tour members miss out, but with PGA Tour membership becoming more 'available' the number of big names that don't compete at TPC Sawgrass is now negligible.
The Players Championship Course Details
Players Stadium Course, TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Designer: Pete Dye 1979 with a course redesign in 2006 Course Type: Florida Technical Par: 72 Length: 7,215 yards Water Hazards: 23 Bunkers: 93 Fairways: Celebration Bermudagrass Rough: 419 Bermudagrass 2.5" Greens: 4,500 sq.ft average featuring MiniVerde Bermudagrass Stimpmeter: 12.5ft Scoring Avg 2012: 72.47 Ranked 19 of 49 courses for difficulty on the 2012 PGA Tour 2013: 72.32 Ranked 19 of 43 courses in 2013 for difficulty.
Previous Champions 2013: Tiger Woods; 2012: Matt Kuchar; 2011: K.J. Choi; 2010: Tim Clark; 2009: Henrik Stenson; 2008: Sergio Garcia; 2007: Phil Mickelson. Winners Scores - Post 2009 2013: -13/275; 2012: -13/275; 2011: -13/275; 2010: -16/272; 2009: -12/278.
Winners Prices 2013: Woods - 9/1 2012: Kuchar - 55/1 2011: Choi - 45/1 2010: Clark - 100/1 2009: Stenson- 50/1
Pre-Tournament Key Summary
The Players Championship and TPC Sawgrass is always a very difficult tournament to call. Despite some excellent early season form, few had Tiger Woods in their sights in 2013 as the World Number 1 (at the time) had a relatively poor record in Ponte Vedra Beach. So the 9/1 on offer was actually exceptionally good value compared to the 3/1 his backers had picked up at Bay Hill when he won there in March.
In general winners of The Players tend to be non Major Championship winners, who enter the event off of some decent early season form. Matt Kuchar won at 55/1, despite finishing 3rd at Augusta the previous month. K.J. Choi had finished 8th at Augusta and 3rd at New Orleans before winning at a juicy 45/1, plus Tim Clark was a whopping 100/1 winner in 2011. What's clear is that under valued players most certainly win The Players.
My final point that surprised me was the level of difficulty at TPC Sawgrass. The course is known as a really technical beast, which stretches players with a mix of tight fairway landing areas, tough rough, water in-play and incredibly fast bermudagrass greens. Standard tournament weather conditions include blustery wind as a matter of course. So I was surprised to see the Stadium Course rank as only the 19th most difficult track on both the 2012 and 2013 Tours.
Below we track the results of Golf Betting System PGA Tour tipster Steve Bamford who has been producing weekly tips since 2009. You can also follow him on Twitter @bamfordgolf.