Perry’s 2021 PLAYERS Championship Picks & Betting Guide: Fleetwood, Casey & Grillo Among Standout Prices at TPC Sawgrass
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Emiliano Grillo
We never really had a sweat going at the Arnold Palmer, but Bryson DeChambeau winning at +1200 eased that pain a bit a bit because that’s a bet I’d never really make.
We now head to THE PLAYERS Championship for a tournament that will feature one of the deepest fields imaginable as 48 of the top 50 players have made the trip to TPC Sawgrass.
TPC Sawgrass measures around 7,250 yards for a par 72. While longer hitters may have an advantage, it’s tough to overpower this course. Doglegs and water limit where players can drive the ball, so we’ll end up seeing a lot of players hitting iron shots from similar places in the fairway.
This course seems to have the ability to expose everyone’s weakness, so it really just comes down to whoever can hide their flaws the best while having the best part of their game firing on all cylinders. There’s not really a specific style of play that suits Sawgrass, but the approach game usually needs to be in top form if you want to contend.
It’s also a place where you want to back players who come in with some pretty decent form. This isn’t the type of track where players come in out of sorts and then get their game right.
Balance at the top is usually the name of the game at THE PLAYERS. This week is no exception with the books declining to declare a clear-cut favorite. Dustin Johnson opens at +1200 just slightly ahead of Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau at +1600.
After that, there’s a large contingent of players in the +2000s, but the two who catch my attention are Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay. Thomas probably shouldn’t be +2000 in any field on any course. Since 2017, he has 11 wins worldwide in 96 starts and it’s not like he’s in bad form. He was right next to Collin Morikawa at the WGC-Workday Championship in strokes gained approach, but was held back by his driver. I don’t expect the driver to be much of a weakness for JT most weeks, but even if he’s a little off here, the approach is the most important aspect anyway, and that part of the game is right where we’d want it.
With Cantlay, I was planning on backing him at the WGC before he pulled out. It didn’t seem to be injury related, so I have no problem looking back his way this week.
Thomas will be one to jump on earlier since he’ll be very popular this week. Cantlay is a little more up in the air. After the withdraw, he may slip under the radar a little bit and the odds might drift when the money comes in on more popular guys like Thomas.
I got an early start with my card last week with Tommy Fleetwood at +5500, he’s down to +4500 now, but that’s still worth a punt. He’s finished fifth and seventh, respectively, in his last two starts at Sawgrass and had a good showing at Bay Hill, though a rough Sunday saw the Merseysider drift down to 10th. Impressively, Fleetwood was still able to gain a couple of strokes on approach on Sunday even though he carded a 77. It was mostly the driver and putter that were a problem.
I’ll also take a look at Paul Casey at +5500. Casey’s game is in terrific shape as the Cheltenham native has posted five straight top-15 finishes worldwide this year. He doesn’t have a great track record here, but form tends to override course history for me at this event.
He’s coming off 10th-place finish at Bay Hill and his approach numbers were solid. Casey’s number has dipped at a few places, but he’s still 55/1 at bet365. I wouldn’t go too much lower than +5000 on him.
After a close call last week, I’ll look at Corey Conners this time at +9000. Conners led the Arnold Palmer field in approach last week and that’s probably the most consistent aspect of his game as he’s only lost strokes with his approach twice in the last year.
Putting will always be the concern with the Listowel, Canada native, but Bermuda is his best surface and that’s where the Florida resident is the most comfortable.
Conners may get some support after his strong showing at Bay Hill, so make sure to shop around for the best number on him. I would try to get at least +8000 on the ball-striking specialist.
If there’s a big tournament to take a few chances down the board, THE PLAYERS is probably it. Si Woo Kim cashed in as one of the biggest outrights in recent memory at as high as 750/1 a few years back. Basically anyone with a strong approach game can be live here.
I’ll keep it limited in this range but I do want to take a chance on Emiliano Grillo at +16000. Grillo has finished inside the top-25 in three of his last four starts and finished 11th here in 2017, so he’s shown that he can hang around if his game is right.
THE PLAYERS Card
I’ll look throughout the week at Thomas or Cantlay as a final addition. Adding either one of them would pretty much wrap up my plays for the week as it wouldn’t leave much room for live bets throughout the tournament. But for now, here’s what my card looks like:
- Tommy Fleetwood +4500 (.73 units)
- Paul Casey +5500 (.6 units)
- Corey Conners +9000 (.36 units)
- Emilano Grillo +16000 (.21 units)
Total Stake: 1.9 units
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