Players Championship: R1 preview and three-ball tips for Sawgrass

Ben Martin: Well worth backing at anything odds-against
Ben Martin: Well worth backing at anything odds-against

Ben Coley looks ahead to the first round of the PLAYERS Championship, where he's found a very strong fancy.

Recommended bets

6pts Ben Martin to win his three-ball at 11/8

For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record

Ben Martin to beat Robert Garrigus and Derek Fathauer

By far the best bet on day one of the PLAYERS Championship is Ben Martin to get the better of out-of-form pair Robert Garrigus and Derek Fathauer.

Martin is an unspectacular golfer in unspectacular form himself, but he's made eight cuts from 10 events this year, is a self-confessed Pete Dye fan and very nearly won this event when fourth on his debut three years ago.

A missed cut in 2016 might not be ideal but he bounced back with 30th place last year and his no-frills game is the sort which so often thrives at TPC Sawgrass, where power isn't much of a weapon at all.

Garrigus is one of the PGA Tour's biggest hitters, so any venue which takes away his advantage from the tee is unlikely to suit. There are some exceptions to that, but Sawgrass is not one of them: in eight visits, he's missed seven cuts and the exception saw him finish a lowly 73rd.

The 40-year-old opened with a round of 85 here on his debut and closed with a round of 80 on his last visit. A scoring average of 75.5 is almost four shots higher than Martin's and demonstrates that while one player has the game for the course, the other does not.

Garrigus also arrives in miserable form. He shot 80-78 in Texas when last teeing it up on his own, while at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans he and Harold Varner missed the cut after a second-round 78. While Martin has made eight cuts in 10 starts this year, Garrigus has missed six in 11.

Fathauer finished 17th here when Martin took fourth, but that really is the only positive. He's one of the most out-of-form players in the field, shooting 83-80 last week, 82-73 in Texas, 81-76 in the Heritage. Repeat: this PGA Tour golfer has shot 80 or more in four of his last six rounds, including all three openers.

There are two risks with this bet. One is that Martin plays so poorly that one of the other two outscores him by default. The other is that strange things happen in every sport, every day. That aside, he should be odds-on and then some.

Zach Johnson to beat William McGirt and Brian Gay

I've made the case for Johnson in my pre-tournament preview - although the price has now well and truly gone as he's been popular with various writers - and he can make the sort of solid start which should account for William McGirt and Brian Gay.

Without repeating what I've written elsewhere, Johnson boasts an excellent record at Sawgrass, where in 13 visits he's made the weekend 12 times, and on 10 of those occasions he's shot par or better on Thursday.

His current run of strong starts here stands at six, five of which were under-par along with one round of 72, and anything in that region should be good enough. For good measure, he's seventh on the PGA Tour in round one scoring.

McGirt has been in awful form all year and while there have been flashes from Gay, top-10 finishes in Phoenix and at Pebble Beach are fading memories now. He also owns a poor Sawgrass record with 12th place in 2011 his only top-30 in 14 visits.

Vaughn Taylor to beat Bryson DeChambeau and Kevin Chappell

If you are looking for an outsider worth a small bet, consider former Ryder Cup player Vaughn Taylor to beat Bryson DeChambeau and Kevin Chappell.

Both DeChambeau and Chappell have designs on this year's Ryder Cup team, which Taylor does not, and they're two of the very best ball-strikers on the circuit. If either has a hot day with the putter, the bet likely loses.

However, Chappell has been disappointing this spring and it's unclear whether another niggling injury has fully cleared up. The type of player who absolutely is prone to the odd shocker, one who has not been starting well all year, it's not out of the question that he plays himself out of it on day one as was the case with an opening 77 in 2015.

DeChambeau is in great form and deserves favouritism, but he did open with a round of 75 last week and of the three, it's Taylor who ranks highest in this year's first-round scoring statistics.

There are some big negatives for Taylor to overcome, chiefly his recent record at Sawgrass, but he was eighth here at his peak and is capable of a good day when we need it. He wouldn't by any means be a strong fancy, but 9/2 is generous if you can get it - he'd be more a 3/1 chance.

Posted at 2055 BST on 09/05/18

Related links

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read

Check out our latest racing Nap
1

Daily Nap: Tees the Lad

David Ord provides Wednesday's racing nap, next best and treble with the bet of the day running at Hexham.

Scotland have clinched a play-off spot for Euro 20202

Scotland reach Euro play-offs

Scotland have reached the European Championship play-offs with a 3-2 Nations League win over Israel at Hampden Park.

Check out our daily preview with tips for every race3

Wednesday's racing preview

David Clough makes Victory Bond his best bet at Kempton and he has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Luka Modric (left) and Kylian Mbappe: Both in the Ballon d'Or running after impressive World Cups4

Modric odds-on for Ballon d'Or

With the Ballon d'Or awards taking place in December, we take a look at the odds with Luka Modric the current favourite.

Soren Kjeldsen and Thorbjorn Olesen will defend their World Cup title this week
5

World Cup of Golf: Team-by-team guide

Ben Coley profiles each and every team in this week's World Cup of Golf, including favourites Australia and England's Ryder Cup duo.

Most Read

Check out our latest racing Nap
1

Daily Nap: Tees the Lad

David Ord provides Wednesday's racing nap, next best and treble with the bet of the day running at Hexham.

Scotland have clinched a play-off spot for Euro 20202

Scotland reach Euro play-offs

Scotland have reached the European Championship play-offs with a 3-2 Nations League win over Israel at Hampden Park.

Check out our daily preview with tips for every race3

Wednesday's racing preview

David Clough makes Victory Bond his best bet at Kempton and he has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Luka Modric (left) and Kylian Mbappe: Both in the Ballon d'Or running after impressive World Cups4

Modric odds-on for Ballon d'Or

With the Ballon d'Or awards taking place in December, we take a look at the odds with Luka Modric the current favourite.

Soren Kjeldsen and Thorbjorn Olesen will defend their World Cup title this week
5

World Cup of Golf: Team-by-team guide

Ben Coley profiles each and every team in this week's World Cup of Golf, including favourites Australia and England's Ryder Cup duo.

Racing Tips

Check out our latest racing Nap

Daily Nap: Tees the Lad

David Ord provides Wednesday's racing nap, next best and treble with the bet of the day running at Hexham.

Check out our daily preview with tips for every race

Wednesday's racing preview

David Clough makes Victory Bond his best bet at Kempton and he has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Royal Line (right) pulls clear to win the November Handicap

Sporting Life Tipping Record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in November 2018.

Next Race Off

08:30 Mysore
6
(9)
Flaming Spear
J: Mukesh Kumar
12
(3)
Roi Junior
J: J Paswan
10
(1)
Young Gallant
J: Shivnath Paswan

Football Tips

Royal Line (right) pulls clear to win the November Handicap

Sporting Life Tipping Record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in November 2018.

Get your bets on!

Our best bets

Check out all of our available betting tips and previews of the forthcoming sporting action.

We look ahead to the latest round of matches in the Nations League

Nations League tips: Go for goals

George Pitts looks ahead to tonight's UEFA Nations League action, with three selections from some important matches.