2023 THE PLAYERS Championship Picks: Expert Eyeing Patrick Cantlay, Sungjae Im, Seamus Power
Pictured: Patrick Cantlay. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
It is THE PLAYERS week! While my keyboard is permanently stuck in ‘Caps Lock’ mode, the excitement for the biggest non-major of the season has added extra fun for one of the more volatile courses on tour.
I say that last comment with the understanding that if you look at some of the data-intensive sites, you will see TPC Sawgrass fully entrenched as a top-10 course in what it produces in expectation. However, the leaderboards and statistical outputs tell a different story.
Overall, this is an event that gives us a better betting board than we have had in recent contests, so I am excited about the exposure we can get down.
If you haven’t already, you can find me on Twitter @TeeOffSports. There, I will provide a link to my pre-tournament model, a powerful and interactive data spreadsheet that allows user inputs to create custom golf rankings. That sheet is released every Monday, so be sure to check it out and construct your own numbers from my database of information.
PLAYERS Championship Picks and Strategy
Keep An Eye On Patrick Cantlay
I am never massively concerned with the weather from an entire tournament perspective. To me, it becomes something more manageable and noteworthy from a daily standpoint (in-tournament head-to-head wagers, etc.), but we have seen some variance in the forecast at TPC Sawgrass worth discussing.
My model believes a late Thursday/early Friday combination might be worth about a half-shot since gusts are expected to hit the venue later on Friday. It hasn’t been uncommon for this tournament to become ravaged further than that projection in the past, but I say all of that to mention that Patrick Cantlay has drawn the opposite wave of what my model believes is ideal. That is great to know in a vacuum, but the answer we are looking for is how to play this from an optimal game theory sense.
Unfortunately, there probably isn’t any value with where Cantlay’s number currently sits. There was a different discussion to be had at 25/1, not 16/1. I will likely find myself in a position where I build a very minimal card upfront and try to see if I can get money down on the American at some point during the week.
There is a chance we get priced out early if Cantlay starts hot in the ideal morning conditions, which is why I am taking him 35/1 to be the first-round leader, but the opening is most likely to occur on Friday night once the field has gotten set up for the weekend. Let’s see how Cantlay survives Friday’s gusts, and if it comes down to a Saturday decision that needs to be made at a much lower price, I am all for that game if the value makes sense.
Sungjae Im (-115) over Cameron Young
I seemed to be on my own island when recording ‘Links & Locks’ with Roberto Arguello and Nick Bretwisch this week.
Some of this wager had to do with my intrigue with Sungjae Im, but there also seems to be a lack of intrigue on Cameron Young when playing this course from a statistical perspective. It is not that I don’t believe the American can’t figure out this course, but until something changes, some combinations worry me.
Young ranked 45th in my model from a two-year regression, and the 2023-only numbers placed him 48th. It is not like we are in a spot where his profile can’t figure it out, but Bermuda has never been his go-to surface as he ranks 104th on that texture and 105th when faced with a Pete Dye track. I will take my shot against that profile while grabbing one of my favorite golfers on the board.
Seamus Power T40 (+150) — 57th or Better at Bet365
There is a ton of “fun” value to be found on this board when we look at some of these 100/1 golfers who have win equity, but might be better suited as placement wagers. The list goes on and on with the likes of Matt Kuchar, K.H. Lee, Tom Hoge and Taylor Montgomery, but let’s highlight Seamus Power since his floor grades as the steadiest of any of the top-40 bets I made.
Power’s course history is clean for a volatile event and while the weighted tee-to-green returns won’t be as spotless, a top-10 short game in this field and correct end of the draw makes for an intriguing golfer who might have hidden top-10 equity if you want to push a bet even further. I am not sure we need to be that aggressive, but the upside does play a little into the safety.
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