Who Will Claim Golf’s “Fifth Major” At The Players Championship This Week?

If you have signed up with a new casino, such as Coral Vegas (maybe using the fabulous Coral Vegas £10 Free No Deposit Bonus deal) then you will be aware that you can use your mobile to play all sorts of casino games and slots.

However, your Coral account also allows you access to the full range of Coral betting services including the famous Coral Sports betting site. Coral made their names first as a sports betting shop on the high street before establishing themselves online and if you enjoy your sports as much as your slots, then you will not be short of things to bet on.

That is best illustrated on weeks when there is a big sporting event on and this week we have not only had the recent World Snooker Final, but coming up at the weekend is the final weekend of Premier League action, but prior to that is the focus of this week’s article, where we are going to look at who stands a chance of winning what professional golfers call “the fifth major”; The Players Championship which takes place at Sawgrass in Jacksonville Florida.

What makes The Players Championship so special?

Although it doesn’t have the lengthy history of any of the four Majors in golf, The Players Championship was designed to be a tournament organised by professional players, for professional players. From a relatively inauspicious start in the 1970s, the tournament grew massively in popularity throughout the 80s and 90s where it attained the unofficial status of the “fifth major”.

The reasons for that are many and varied. Firstly, after being contested mainly by American only players (the first non-American to win was Sandy Lyle in 1985), the field became more international over time. The switch to Sawgrass in 1982 also saw the tournament gain further popularity (especially with the iconic 17th Island Green quickly becoming arguably the most recognisable hole in golf).

With international players, especially the top ranked stars, playing, the event field soon resembled that you would find at a Major tournament. Add to that the fact that The Players Championship boasts the largest prize pool of any tournament outside of a Major ($11,000,000, $1.89m of which will go to the winner), and you have all the reasons you need to see why players often refer to this as a major in all but name.

Who are the previous winners of the event?

Only one player has won The Players Championship three times and that is the Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus, who won in 1974, 1976 and 1978 well before the event moved to its new home in Sawgrass. Since then a total of five players have won the event twice Hal Sutton (1983, 2000) Fred Couples (1984, 1996), Steve Elkington (1991, 1997), Davis Love III (1992, 2003) and Tiger Woods (2001, 2013).

What marks the Players Championship out more though is the fact that over the years there have been a number of surprise winners of the event. Some of the lesser known players to have won the event are Craig Perks (2002), Fred Funk (2005), Stephen Ames (2006), Tim Clark (2010) and last year’s winner Korean Kim Si-woo (2017).

What is striking perhaps more so than the list of players to have won the event, is the list of those who have, as yet, not lifted a Players Championship winner’s trophy. Many multiple Major winners and legends of the game such as Tom Watson, Severiano Ballesteros, Jose-Maria Olazabal, Nick Faldo and Bernard Langer have never won the trophy. Of the modern golfers, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Spieth, Bubba Watson and Justin Thomas are amongst those seeking their maiden victory in the event in 2018.

Of the current top 12 ranked golfers in the world only two inside that elite group have won this event, Jason Day in 2016 and Rickie Fowler in 2015.

Who stands the best chance of success this year at Sawgrass?

There are two players that go into this event as the favourites to win with Coral Sport. They are Australian Jason Day, who won the Wells Fargo Championship last week on the US Tour and who was a winner here back in 2016 and the Irish ace Rory McIlroy who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational recently at Bay Hill and has looked back to his best form at times of late.  Both of these players are rated as 14/1 chances with Coral.

However as with any golf tournament, the best value tends to come from Each-Way bets and Coral are offering a generous pay out on all finishers up to 7th place in the event, which will offer you an each way pay out of 1/5 of the stated odds should you back a player to win and they finish inside that top seven.

After Day and McIlroy, next up in the betting is a trio of top American Major title winners in Dustin Johnson, the current World Number 1, current British Open champion Justin Spieth and the current USPGA Champion Justin Thomas. All three of these golfers are in great shape and are ranked inside the top four in the world and each is a 16/1 shot with Coral.

The 2015 winner Rickie Fowler comes next at 20/1 with the in form European quartet of Paul Casey, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, as well as current Masters Champion Patrick Reed, all rated as 25/1 shots for the event.

If you value experience then the 33/1 chances may well appeal to you with Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods all rated at those odds to land the win.

There’s several interesting options at 50/1 with Coral including two-time Masters Champion Bubba Watson, plus the in form European duo of Ian Poulter and Tommy Fleetwood who may well be Ryder Cup team mates later this year.

Looking at this selection, if I was going to back someone for a straight win at The Players Championship (and I’d advise against that bet) then I’d probably go for Dustin Johnson. His length and accuracy off the tee are a real bonus for him on a tight course where erring offline can be particularly detrimental to your score.

However, I think a better each way bet could well be the 33/1 you can get on Tiger Woods. The legend showed he is back with a solid performance at the Masters and I think at each way, he represents good value at a tournament that he has won twice previously in his illustrious career.