Fowler: Why Xander Schauffele Is Worth a Bet at The PLAYERS Championship
Steven Ryan/Getty Images. Pictured: Xander Schauffele
Whether you consider THE PLAYERS the ‘fifth major’ or not, one thing remains consistent — it’ll be the toughest betting week of the season.
We’ve seen favorites triumph like Rory McIlroy cashing a +1500 ($10 bet wins $150) ticket last year and Tiger Woods at +900 in 2013. We’ve also seen Sawgrass lend itself to longshots winning like Martin Kaymer at +9100 six years ago and Si Woo Kim winning at +50000 in 2017.
TPC Sawgrass is not necessarily difficult on paper but has proven it can be difficult (in certain spots) to score on. The prestige, the job security of a 3-year exemption and the confidence, which come from winning here adds a ton of pressure throughout the week, not just on the weekend.
The diabolical design from Pete Dye caters to massive lead changes with the golfers’ success hanging in the balance on every shot. In 2010, David Toms hit his approach in the water on the Par-5 16th, which resulted in a playoff where he lost to K.J Choi. We’ve also seen Rickie Fowler play the final six holes in six under en route to beating both Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia in a playoff back in 2015.
Setting up your betting card this week should be multifaceted to mitigate the variance. Choosing different styles of golfers like pure ball-strikers who can hit it a mile and guys who have touch around the greens and are able to gain strokes through their short game. Find one who can do both and we could have the golfer hoisted the trophy this Sunday.
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Xander Schauffele +2500 ($10 would win $250)
It feels like we’ve been let down by Xander this year, but in our ‘instant gratification’ mindset, we’re soon to forget what the X-man has done so far. Dating back to the 2019 TOUR Championship. Xander’s recorded two top-10s, two runner-ups, a top-15 and a couple of top-25s.
The ball-striking has been solid over his last half dozen tournaments and his putter caught fire last week at Bay Hill gaining close to six strokes. He’s also not making mistakes ranking fifth in bogey avoidance over his last 24 rounds.
Ian Poulter +9000; Top-5 after Round 1 +2000
If you want to sweat out Poulter for more than just a day and are worried about his afternoon tee draw, taking his outright number at +11000 is not a bad move. He’s scoring on Par 5s, is putting great and is finally hitting it better gaining strokes through approach in his last two tournaments.
Poulter has also been in the gaining with the irons in seven of his last eight first rounds and over the last 16 first rounds, he’s got three top-5s and a first coming into Sawgrass, a course he clearly enjoys. Poulter hasn’t missed a cut here since 2013.
Gary Woodland +400
Woodland missed a few key putts at the Honda Classic on Saturday, but still finished with a top-10 after finishing inside the top-15 the previous week.
He doesn’t have a great record here missing the cut in three of his last five starts, but the Tournament’s move to March instead of May means more wind and more potential distance needed for all shots; Woodland ranks inside the top-25 in approach proximity from 200-plus yards away.
Joel Dahmen +344
Three straight tournaments of gaining strokes through ball-striking should be good enough for a top-20 finish from Dahmen, who also loves to play on difficult courses ranking 19th in SG: T2G over his last half-dozen tournaments with this designation.
Cameron Champ +27500; Top 10 +2000
Both Rory McIlroy and Si Woo Kim ranked second in SG: OTT on Sawgrass after their wins; Cameron Champ comes into THE PLAYERS ranking, you guessed it, second in SG: OTT over his last six tournaments.
Missing the cut is not the form we want, but looking past the missed weekends and diving into the numbers, Champ has gained strokes T2G in five of his last six tournaments. His putting has been mediocre, but getting him on these greens is much more to his liking ranking 12th in SG: Putting over his last 50 rounds on fast Bermuda greens.