*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change
I think the first thing to say here is that if your player didn’t play well at Sawgrass last week, don’t worry about that for one second. That was one of the most bizarre tournaments we’ve had in a long while. The Players has never been a good form guide for the following tournaments, anyway.
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I’m taking Matt Fitzpatrick. He missed the cut at TPC Sawgrass – he played alright but he just didn’t put very well which is not like him. Before the Players his previous three starts were all top 10 finishes and he’s got a really good record in Florida. Most of his best form comes on tree-lined courses where you’ve got to work the ball both ways, something he’s really good at, and this course is certainly one of those. He did miss the cut here four years ago but he’s a much better player now and in much better form, so I’d be surprised if he can’t bounce back from last week.
The other one I like is Gary Woodland. It’s kind of a similar tale here. If you ignore the Players Championship he is one of the form players on the PGA Tour. He finished fifth in the Honda and fifth at Bay Hill, where he double-bogeyed the penultimate hole of the tournament. If he hadn’t done that he could have won for the first time since the US Open three years ago. He’s a former winner at the Valspar Championship and Sawgrass is not his bag at all – it never has been. He’s played there 10 times and missed seven cuts so he’s never a factor in that tournament. This is a course where he can get his driver out which is certainly his strength and he had two top five finishes before Sawgrass, so I’d be hopeful he can go well.
To be honest with you I think we will get a few left-field players in the top eight this weekend. Danny Lee is one of the players I like – he’s been seventh here in the past and all of his best form on the PGA Tour has come on old-fashioned tree-lined courses just like this one. He withdrew last week but don’t let that put you off – the only reason he withdrew is because he had two more holes to play of his second round on Sunday morning and he knew he was going to miss the cut, so he just didn’t want to get out of bed early. I can see him bouncing back at a huge price.
This has always been a good course if you hit the ball a long way and you move the ball from left to right. Wyndham Clark is a very similar player to Sam Burns who’s the defending champions. He’s got a bit of improvement to make to get to that level but he does like this golf course and at a huge price I’m willing to back him to bounce back as well.
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Shubhankar Sharma is one of the best iron players in the field. The golf course looks really wide off the tee and it will be soft again – there’s been quite a lot of rain in the Johannesburg area. I really think that those who can keep setting up chances with their approaches will come to the fore, and Sharma is one of the best three or four players in that department in this field. It was just one bad round which cost him last time in Kenya and he’s already been runner up in Abu Dhabi, so he’s playing really well. His very first professional win came just a few miles down the road from this golf course.
Santiago Tarrio has found form over the last couple of weeks. We had a Spanish winner on Sunday which may just inspire him a little bit. He’s all about the long game – very accurate off the tee and very good with his approaches too. If he can warm up that putter I’m hopeful that he can really step up. He’s got some really good form in South Africa, too.
It’s always worth giving respect to the locals in these South African events, they know the courses better than anyone else. Zander Lombard holds the course record here. The only reason to be put off him is his form over the last couple of weeks. He played fine until the back nine on Sunday last week and the week before that he was on a very tight golf course. He is a bit a wild driver so I’m not concerned about that – it’s a much wider course here. He very nearly won the Joburg Open before Christmas and if he does win on the DP World Tour, it’ll be no surprise if it comes on home soil.
He’s a bit less explosive but very accurate and very good with his approaches. He’s a very capable putter as well, it’s just not been singing for him lately. If it does warm up he’s got a good chance here, I think. He’s been threatening to win one of these events for three or four years now and with Bernd Wiesberger having flown off to America, it’s a good chance for a player like for De Jager to establish himself. De Jager with some course form to his name can go well each way.
This weekend’s golf tips:
* Read more of Ben Coley’s top tips at SportingLife.com
* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.
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