THERE'S going to be some great golf over the next fours weeks prior to the US Open at Erin Hills and it all starts this week at TPC Sawgrass for the Players Championship.
TPC Sawgrass, with its iconic 17th par-three island hole is a tough course to crack. When Pete Dye designed the track an island green wasn't in his plans.
He credits his wife with the idea after she had paid the course-to-be a visit, saw how much had been dug out and said:”Let’s just make it an island green.”
The Championship has been won and lost at this penultimate hole and Sergio Garcia sent two balls into the water in 2013 while tying the lead with Tiger Woods.
When you walk down the 16th hole you get your first look of the 17th. It’s like a Roman amphitheatre and as you take the long walk to the tee, between the lake and the crowd close on your left, the thought of that tee shot must cause your stomach to churn.
Although length of the tee could be advantageous I think GIR, and SG:Putting could be the important stats.
In only two trips here Justin Thomas has held his own with a T24 (2015) and T3 last year. He has also scored a couple of 65s so the course doesn’t hold any fears for him.
With three wins already this season he has certainly shown what he can do. He has missed a couple of cuts since February but looked back to his best with a T5 at the Zurich Classic at the end of last month.
Always liked the look of Thomas and looking at his stats looks a very good fit for Sawgrass. Stats: Driving Distance: (6) 306.5 yards; GIR: (16) 71.05%; SG:Putting: (2) 1.698
Rickie Fowler was one of my tips for the Masters but the way he fell apart on the final day was quite disturbing. Missed the cut at the Zurich but with a win at the Honda earlier in the year and four top 10s his form is there for all to see.
He missed the cut here last year but was defending champion and has also a T3 here in 2012. His form is back to where it was a few years back and also has stats that suit here.
Stats: DD: (T22) 301.2; GIR: T33) 69.44%; SG:Putting: (19) 1.731
I was really impressed by my pick Jon Rahm last week at Wells Fargo. His tee shots were a joy to behold and he led a couple times over the last round but couldn’t find a putt. It wasn’t that his putting was bad it was more of the ball not dropping.
He reminds me of Dustin Johnston … tee it up and let rip. He won the Farmers Insurance at the end of January and is going to win again soon. Hopefully this weekend.
Stats: DD: (17) 304.1; GIR: (22) 70.58%; SG:Putting: (T23) 1.737
1.5pts ew Justin Thomas (Betfred, 30-1)
1.5pts ew Rickie Fowler (Betfred, 22-1)
1.5pts ew Jon Rahm (Bet365, 22-1)