The year’s ‘fifth major’ is now the first big event of the season, having been moved from May to March. This is the first time the tournament has been played in March since 2007. The rough has been cut down, and with fairways being a little softer, the big hitters on tour come into calculations a little more this year.
The test should remain the same however, with good positional play off the tee, combined with strong iron play to small greens the key.
The last time we did one of these golf previews, we went through the card, so if we can get anywhere close to that, everyone should have a great week.
Tiger (AKA Big Cat, AKA Large Feline, AKA MacDaddy Santa) pulled out last week at Bay Hill with a slight neck strain. This looks to have been more of a precautionary measure to save himself for this week. Big Cat has started his 2019 well enough. His 10th place finish last time out at the Mexico Championship was encouraging. He led the field in Strokes Gained Approach, but had a poor week on the greens.
He said post-tournament that he couldn’t wait to get off Poa Annua and back to his beloved Bermuda.
His form at Sawgrass is also encouraging. He was a winner there in 2001 (played in March) and added a second in 2013. He returned to the event for the first time since 2015 last year, finishing 11th. He was the main challenger to runaway winner Webb Simpson for much of the final round. A few mistakes down the stretch when chasing tarnished his overall performance.
The shortening of the rough will only help him, and his stellar iron play is always there. A solid week on the greens should see him go very close.
Casey is in fantastic form at the minute. He finished second at Pebble Beach and third at the Mexico Championship in his last start. The 25th place at the Genesis Open was also an eye-catching display, where led the field in Strokes Gained Approach that week, and he has a solid record at the Players.
He is a big danger to the front end of the market and looks a great each-way play at 33/1.
Big Gaz has started his 2019 PGA Tour season well. He finished second in Hawaii, ninth at Torrey Pines and seventh in Phoenix. He enters calculations this week with the fairways being softer and his iron-play looking very strong.
He was second in the field in Strokes Gained Approach last time out at The Honda Classic too, which is encouraging. His best Sawgrass effort was an 11th place finish in 2014, when conditions were similar to what they should be this week. We have him at 50/1.
This young talent from the Web.Com Tour is finding his feet quickly on the Big Boy Tour. Im played beautifully last week on way to a third place finish at Bay Hill. He ranked fifth in Strokes Gained Approach and seventh in Strokes Gained Tee to Green. Whis will be his debut on the course, but he hasn’t been fazed by any of the new venues he’s teed up at this season so far, so I wouldn’t blow this out of proportion. 80/1 makes him an each-way option.
Kokrak has been playing the best golf from tee-to-green on tour the last two weeks. He was ninth at the Honda Classic and tenth at Bay Hill last week. He ranked second in Strokes Gained Approach first in the Strokes Gained Tee to Green, but lost four full shots on the greens alone (any poor putters like myself will feel his pain). All he needs is an average week on the greens to make himself a factor and could be worth taking a chance on at 80/1.
List was another player who played nicely at Bay Hill last week on way to a top ten finish. He also ranked an impressive 10th in Strokes Gained Approach & ninth in Strokes Gained Tee to Green. He’s another who just needs an average week on the greens to contend.